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Lawrence County native embraces the rodeo life

ROME TOWNSHIP – In bullriding, everything boils down to eight seconds.

Thursday, July 12, 2001

ROME TOWNSHIP – In bullriding, everything boils down to eight seconds. Lawrence County resident Kirk Mannon has been fighting that eight seconds for the last four years and, all puns aside, it’s been a bumpy ride.

Mannon said his start in the not-so-run-of-the-mill event stems from two factors – friends and childhood wishes.

"I’ve watched bullriding ever since I was a kid," Mannon said last night, shortly after his ride at the Lawrence County Fair’s rodeo, "Some of my friends started riding and before I knew it I had my own gear and was riding."

Mannon first learned the ropes in Cannonsburg, Ky. at Bar W, a local proving ground for aspiring and rookie riders.

Learning to ride bulls, Mannon explained, is primarily a "hands-on" experience.

"People can tell you different things," Mannon said, but he added, the only way to learn is to get on the bull – which ultimately leads to a quick lesson on dismounting and an even faster lesson in physics.

"It took about 10 or 12 bulls before I rode the full eight seconds," he joked.

Mannon did trade some inside secrets on how to ride a bull.

"About 90 percent of it is mental," – not insanity. He said overcoming fear and learning to focus is paramount in bull riding. The rest, he explained, is being in good physical condition and gaining experience.

Mannon also had one more challenge to face in his early days of bullriding – a force that could be greater than any bull.

"At first," the rodeo-man said, "my parents didn’t want me to ride…they were afraid I would get hurt."

But, time has changed his parents, Bob and Peggy Mannon’s, perspective.

"Now, they’ve seen what I have done," he said, adding his parents now fully support his habit.

Mannon explained that in his four years he has never been hurt seriously enough to go to the hospital – a statement followed by a quick "thankfully, I haven’t."

Mannon’s rodeo experience has taken him to a host of rodeos across the eastern United States and he’s not yet ready to kick the habit. Since he graduated from school – completing the licensed practical nursing program at the Collins Career Center – Mannon has been able to dedicate more time to riding, competing anywhere from two to three times a week.

At last night’s rodeo, Mannon was a little upset about his ride – a few seconds on the bull and the animal won – but, he took the loss with stride.

"It’s hard when you get bucked off in front of your home crowd," Mannon said.

He explained that few people watch bull riding on television enough to know every ride is a little different.

"Sometimes you just get bucked off," Mannon said, already looking to forward to the next ride.