David Winings, Roachdale, learned to ride bulls from his dad, Gene, and his brother, and has been riding competitively since 1980. Now, with assistance from Gene and other bull riders, Winings is teaching Indiana youths the art of competitive bull riding.
Winings started teaching with his family back in '80s when their farm was the only place bull riders could go to practice in Indiana. They started with boys competing in high school rodeos, and it just kept growing.
"There are not many places you can go to learn different techniques," said Winings.
Right now, Winings is instructing boys ranging in ages from 5 to 17, where they all start out by learning the basics. As they progress in steps, Winings teaches them tricks to help them advance in their competition. "I have learned different tricks that gives you an advantage over your competition and the bull you are riding," he said. "I show everybody the techniques."
Winings told the BannerGraphic he starts the boys out on the bucking barrel. When they have a boy with a specific problem, they take him to the barrel and they help him through it. "The hardest thing to get through to them is that your mind plays tricks on you," he said.
Winings encourages the boys to overcome the pain in their mind and change it around to where it helps them. But the boys have to get used to taking a hit when they come off a bull.
While some boys can take a hit more than others, it is all a part of the weeding out process. Winings said that you can tell which boy truly wants to be a bull rider and which does not just by putting them on a live bull for the first time.
Winings holds lessons on the family ranch in Roachdale every Tuesday night. They cannot hold them on the weekends due to competitions. "If a guy has trouble over the weekend, it's still fresh in his mind on Tuesday to go over the problems," he said.
Winings is assisted by Gene and several of the riders they have taught come back to help the younger riders. He said that everybody helps each other, especially if he missed something.
Last year, Winings had four of his boys take champions in all four divisions in the state rodeo competition.
Those champions were Matt Gardner, Danville; Jack Fry, Crawfordsville; and Cody and Casey Coll, Pittsboro. This year, Winings has one boy going to the high school nationals in Springfield, Ill, Chris Waters, Sullivan, who was in the top four after the state finals.
Putnam County residents should keep their eyes out for Winings, his father and his boys at the Winchester Rodeo at 7 p.m. today.