LIVINGSTON — Scott Sullivan spent Father’s Day with a few friends and their families, his son and a couple dozen angry bulls.
Sullivan works full time, but every Tuesday evening, he teaches children of all ages the art of bull riding.
But Tuesday is practice day — which is a workday at the Flying S Bucking Bulls outdoor arena at the Sullivan home in Livingston.
On Sunday the young bull riders — ages 13 to 18 — were at the ranch to have some fun.
“Some families like to barbecue on Father’s Day, but we’re rodeo people; this is what we like to do,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan’s 15-year-old son, Kyle, earned a spot riding bulls at the National High School Rodeo Association Championship in Gallup, N.M., and the family will be traveling to the competition next week.
“He’s been riding since he was 4,” Sullivan said of his son, while he and other parents standing outside the arena watched the teenagers do their best on the backs of the bucking bulls.
“You start off with calves, then move up to steers,” he explained.
Only the older, more experienced riders move up to bulls.
Kyle, like many of the riders at Sunday’s event, was carrying on a family tradition.
Brandi Tucker comes from a rodeo family, so she knew what she was getting into when her son, Dylan, 15, started riding about 17 months ago.
“But I already have a buckle,” Dylan Tucker said, showing off the prize he earned earlier this year at the Amite County Youth Rodeo in Liberty, Miss.
Tucker’s dad, David, said he rode bulls until he was injured.
“It’s not really a matter of if you’ll get hurt, it’s a matter of when,” David Tucker said.
The elder Tucker kept his eyes on the arena the entire time, partly because he understands why his son likes bull riding so much.
“It’s the adrenaline rush,” David Tucker said.
Tucker’s mom is certified in emergency medical services, so she knows all too well how dangerous the sport can be.
“I keep my EMS bag with me when I come watch,” she said.
This sport is as much about family as it is about riding bulls, she said.
“We’ve gotten to know a lot of people since he started,” she said.
The same families float around the same rodeo circles almost every weekend from January to October, she said.
“I know exactly where my son is every weekend because I’m with him,” she said.
Sixteen-year-old Kody Driver’s father couldn’t be at the event, the teen said, because his dad had a heart attack Friday night — when Kody was at the state rodeo finals in Gonzales.
“He just got out of the hospital today. He got home just as Kody was leaving to come here,” said Brittney Driver, Kody’s sister, who drove from Monroe to see her brother perform Sunday.
“He’s riding for his dad today,” she said.
But Kody’s run didn’t go well. He stayed on for a couple of seconds before he was thrown from the bull.
Brittney Driver called their father as she watched Kody walk across the arena.
“I can tell by the way he’s walking he’s not happy,” she said as she handed the phone over to the teen to let him talk.
“It’s been a bad weekend,” Kody said.
But he’ll get another crack at the bull on Tuesday when they’ll all gather again at the ranch for practice.
“You have to love it,” Sullivan said. “We can’t get enough.”