Cody Heffernan 00:00
Sometimes I wake up, and I think, Jeez, I ride bulls, that’s one of the maddest things you can do. Why would somebody want to tie their hand to a thousand kilo animal?

Hanging on for 8 seconds is an accomplishment for professional bull riders. Cody Heffernan, Australia’s number one bull rider, is an up and comer on the tour. We caught up with him to discuss how he got into the sport, and how he mentally prepares for strapping his hand to a one thousand kilo animal.

CONVICTS

How’s it going, mate? Can you tell us what you’re doing here in New York?

CODY

We’re in New York City for the 2nd stop on the Built Ford Tough Series, the top tour in the world, and I’m excited to be here.

CONVICTS

Have you been to New York before?

CODY

Never been to New York. It’s a bit different—you definitely wouldn’t catch me driving in New York City; it’s crazy.

CONVICTS

What does Madison Square Garden mean to you?

CODY

It’s a historic venue. I’m excited to ride here. There’s been a lot of big events here—Muhammad Ali fought here.

CONVICTS

How did you get into rodeo?

CODY

My brother rode when he was younger, and I followed suit. Then he gave it up, and I kept going with it, and now I’m one of the top 35 bull riders in the world.

Every single bull rider has a story. There’s always bumps, bruises, close calls, and near misses…You ride bulls, you have to expect that to happen.
CONVICTS

Do you remember the first time you rode a bull?

CODY

The first time I rode was when I was about 4 or 5, on a little calf. My brother chucked me on and I fell off and started crying, but I enjoyed it, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

CONVICTS

What’s life like as a bull rider?

CODY

Right now I’m on the cusp, so I’m not sure where I’m going to be next weekend. I could be in Oklahoma City, or I could be at a smaller event in Tacoma, Washington. So I just book flights and motels a week in advance. It’s a crazy lifestyle, but you get used to it.

CONVICTS

Tell us a little about bull riding—what do you like about it?

CODY

It’s a crazy sport. Sometimes I wake up, and I think, Jeez, I ride bulls, that’s one of the maddest things you can do. Why would somebody want to tie their hand to a thousand kilo animal? But I love it. It’s a huge adrenalin rush.

CONVICTS

Walk us through your mindset when you’re tying your hand in.

CODY

You can’t be scared, you gotta hop up and get on and give it all you got. But you don’t want to be too pumped up. You have to not psych yourself out, keep calm, keep breathing.

CONVICTS

What’s your preparation like?

CODY

I like to get ready 45 minutes before: put a bit of rosin on your rope, put your spurs on, and tell yourself how much you want to win.

CONVICTS

And what about right before you step out into the arena?

CODY

You chap up, grab your bull rope, come out for the rider introductions, and from there it’s all go. Your bull runs in, you slap yourself on the face a few times, and then let it all hang out.

CONVICTS

The entire ride is never much more than 8 seconds long. What are those 8 seconds like?

CODY

Once you put your hand in the rope it’s all reaction. You don’t have time to think. The bull comes out and goes left, you don’t have time to think, “Oh I gotta make a move to the left.” It’s all reaction. You have to be on the go, aggressive. I go into it like a boxing event: I want to win, and to win is to make that 8 seconds, so I’m gonna do whatever it takes.

Once you put your hand in the rope it’s all reaction. You don’t have time to think.
CONVICTS

Have you had some good falls over the years?

CODY

Every single bull rider has a story. There’s always bumps, bruises, close calls, and near misses. Everyone’s got broken bones and sore spots, but that’s part of it. You ride bulls, you have to expect that to happen.

CONVICTS

What’s it like when you clear those 8 seconds?

CODY

Hearing that bell at 8 seconds signifies that I won the battle and I get a score. It’s definitely a bonus. You’ve got an internal clock. Last weekend in Chicago I was probably at 8.01 seconds—I felt like that whistle was about to go and I got thrown off. I know I could have hung to the bull for that extra half second, but my internal clock said it was time to get off, so I got off and luckily it was after the 8 seconds.

CONVICTS

Do all the Aussies on tour get along? Is there anything about Aussie riders that separates them from the rest?

CODY

Yeah, all of us Aussie boys are mates. We don’t mind hanging down to the side just to get a score, that’s for sure.

CONVICTS

What about New York—did you wear your hat around the city?

CODY

Yeah, I did. Got a few looks but everyone’s been friendly. I did the tourist thing, took a lot of photos—there’s some characters here in New York City.

CONVICTS

Thanks mate, good luck.