FEDERALSBURG Eight seconds may not seem like a long time unless you're riding a wildly bucking bull.

Rick Pinheiro Jr., 19, has been riding bulls for two years. Instead of attending a bull riding school, Pinheiro has learned by riding.

"It's an adrenaline rush, I just love doing it," said Pinheiro, a Federalsburg resident. "The best bull you want is one who is going to buck, but the bull's going to do what he's going to do."

Ever since he was young, he's wanted to ride bulls.

"I had never really even touched a bull before," said Pinheiro, the son of Trish and Rick Pinheiro Sr. of Federalsburg. "My parents always took me to rodeos and I always wanted to be a bull rider."

Although he'd never been around bulls, only horses, Rick Jr. decided to join the International Bull Riders Association when he was 17.

To join the IBR, he needed to apply for a one-year membership, also known as becoming a card holder. In addition to a $100 fee, he needed parental consent since he was under 18.

"At first, we both were nervous about it," said Rick Sr. "He kind of learned from the school of hard knocks. For him to get on a 2,000-pound animal that's bucking crazy … it was scary."

It was only a few months before Rick Jr. would turn 18, so they figured it was inevitable.

"He basically told us, 'You don't have to sign it because within a few months I'm going to be 18 and I'm going to ride,'" Rick Sr. said. "We figured it's his dream and that we should support him."

Within five months, he rode seven times.

"Once you do it, it gets into your blood," said Rick Jr., a 2006 graduate of North Dorchester High School in Hurlock. "There's a lot more to rodeo-ing than meets the eye."

After working construction during the week with Spedden Marine Construction in Cambridge, Rick Jr. travels all over Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey on the weekends, competing in rodeos and practicing. Locations include Ocean City, Wyoming, Del., Westminster and Frederick.

"I wish more local people were in it, because no one here does it," Rick Jr. said. "There needs to be more bull riding going on around here."

Although it's a lot of traveling, he's not alone.

"His mom's a big supporter, his girlfriend is a big supporter, his whole family's behind him," Rick Sr. said. "Both my wife and I are very proud of him for what he's accomplished so far in very little time."

In addition to support, Rick Sr. also helps his son prepare for each event.

"I pull his rope for him when he's getting ready to buck out of the chute," Rick Sr. said. "I also help him get his gear ready."

Bull riders have to hold on to the bull for eight seconds with one hand tied to the bull.

"In eight seconds there's so many movements that your body has to have this memory of what it's going to do before you even think about it," Rick Sr. said. "When you can get that under control, you're going to become a better rider. If you think about it, it's too late."

With one hand tied to the bull, the rider's free hand must not touch himself or the bull. The rider is judged not only on how well he performs but also how well the bull performs.

"When the bull makes a move, you have to make a counter move," Rick Jr. said. "It's a constant battle for position."

For protective gear, Rick Jr. wears a vest and a mouth guard.

"I have mixed feelings when I go," Trish said. "I'm excited in one part of me but I'm always worried about him getting hurt."

He's had his share of bumps and bruises, including severely breaking his arm, nicking a tendon in his knee and almost breaking his neck.

"If the good Lord wants to take me out of here, he's going to do it," Rick Jr. said. "I'd rather be doing something I want to do instead of something I don't."

Although bull riding is a dangerous sport for the rider, some people worry about the bull.

"Bull's hide is 10 times thicker than human skin," Rick Jr. said. "You don't really find much sympathy after you've been stomped or thrown off."

Although his parents and girlfriend are often at his events, Rick Jr. also has the other bull riders he competes with, whom he describes as a close knit group, who cheer each other on.

"We're not in competition with each other," Rick Jr. said, "we're in competition with the bull."

The riders also come together before each event for "Cowboy Prayer," where they pray for a safe day of competition not just for themselves but for each other.

"When you do a sport that can take your life in an instant, you kind of find prayer," Rick Jr. said.

Rick Jr. plans on riding bulls for as long as he can, possibly joining some other associations, including the Professional Bull Riding Association (PBR), the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association (SEBRA).

"I'm going to keep going until I retire," Rick Jr. said. "Even if I strike it big, I'll still ride. It's something you can't get out of your system. People retire but they still come back for another round."

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