April 2021


“When they got started, it was with a local organization, Southwest High School Rodeo Association with a guy there named Mike Vickers,” Lance recalled. “The twins were as green as they come. They didn’t have a clue, so he pulled them under his wing. You could see the twins’ legs just shaking when they climbed on their first bulls. I’d be holding on to them, and I could hear their hearts racing through their vests.” “It felt weird,” Ethan said, “but I wasn’t really nervous.” Hayden agreed, saying, “The first time wasn’t bad, but when my second time came, this one had big ol’ horns on him. I was nervous because I knew what was coming, but then I rode him.” Protected by a helmet, vest, chaps, gloves, spurs, and a lot of Momma’s prayers, the Gainey boys still climb onto the back of the bull, not knowing what will happen once the gate opens, but determined to hang on. While Amanda and big sister, Makayla, are in the stands cheering, praying and videoing, Lance gives the pep talk. “Before they ride, I’ll grab them by the facemask and get our heads together and say, ‘Look at me. When you get in there, it’s a bear fight, son. Take it to this dude and own him! It’s just another momma’s calf.’ There have been a few times I’ve had to jump in the arena and help pull them out.” “They want to keep dad close,” Amanda added, “because dad’s going to make sure that they’re ok. We love

Makayla, Amanda, Ethan, Hayden and Lance Gainey photo by Brian Jones

It seems the rodeo is a passion that runs in the family. Lance remembers growing up with his grandpa, and says, “whatever he caught, whether it was a Holstein heifer or a cow or a bull, it didn’t matter how big it was, you just rode it. I never thought I’d make it past 20 years old,” he said, “let alone have kids and them be World Champion bull riders.” Even from the beginning, the love of bull riding was woven into Amanda and Lance’s relationship. “When we dated, that was our thing,” Amanda shared. “We would go to rodeos and watch bull riding. Every other event at the rodeo is just not my favorite, but bull riding has always captured me.” Lance says, “I’m just a little adrenaline junkie.” When Ethan and Hayden started watching bull riding videos on YouTube several years ago, like their parents, they were instantly hooked. “We watched professionals like Chase Outlaw and Jess Lockwood,” Hayden said. “They’re real cowboys.” So, when the boys first expressed interest in bull riding, Amanda said, “They love adrenaline and action. They wanted to ride a bull, and I was all about it! Lance warned me that his grandpa always said, ‘when they ride, it will get in their blood.’”

the bull fighters that are out there on the dirt protecting our guys and getting them off the bull. Animals can be unpredictable, and that’s part of the hype of what they love. But they always know dad will jump in and tackle that bull if he has to.” The boys have had a few scary moments in the arena. “There was this one bull, Yellow,” Ethan shared. “He chipped my back teeth with his horn. That’s the only time I ever forgot my mouthpiece.” “And once at this big final,” Hayden added, “my vest got ripped off, and I got stepped on by a bull. I had this big bruise on my back.” No matter how tense things have gotten, though, Amanda remains resolved. “A lot of people ask, ‘How do you do this, mom?’ ‘How do you let your babies crawl on that breathing animal and watch them buck them off?’” she said, “But we pray before every ride, and I’m just passionate about what all my children are passionate about. They love it, and we support it. I tell parents that you can get injured in baseball. You can get injured in football. Everything that boys are going to do is physical contact, and there’s a chance for injury. But we don’t want to put them in a bubble. We want them to excel, and in doing that, you have to take chances and chase that passion.”


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