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End of an Era

By

End of an Era

Chris Shivers makes a winning ride at Madison Square Gardens.

Photo © Mary Rudloff
As the dust settles in the arena at the Professional Bull Riders World Finals, winners are crowed and champions are made. Cowboys go home dusty and covered in manure, while the bulls make their way to the pen for a well-deserved snooze. While some of the competitors head off for a night of revelry and celebration, one makes his way through the crowd, into the arms of his family. Chris Shivers is unique among bull riders, and made his final appearance at the 2012 PBR World Championship.

The Early Years

Chris Shivers was born on December 30, 1978, in the small town of Natchez, Mississippi. A died-in-the-wool bull rider, Shivers climbed aboard his first bucking bull at the tender age of 13. He was more than a little green, and took countless hard hits before he got the hang of the 8-second ride. By the next summer, Shivers says he was "making a pretty decent living," traveling around to local rodeos. The Shivers family made rodeo a family affair, and instead of traveling between rodeos with a gaggle of other teenagers, Chris made the journey with his parents. He won his first big prize, a new truck, before he was even legal to drive, and was outriding top-ranked regional cowboys by the age of 16. When asked about his early rodeo days, Shivers remarked, "I was young, but I went to all the bigger bull ridings and I was paying my own way."

Making it Big

Chris moved into the ranks of professional bull riders as soon as he hit 18, and hasn't looked back since. Every single rodeo he's entered since that fateful day has been sanctioned by the Professional Bull Riders, and he doesn't regret it for a second. He said, "I'm one of the guys that have been faithful to the PBR the entire time that I've been here. For how many ever years I've been riding, that's all I've ever done." Soon into his first professional year, Shivers took a massive blow to the head during an ugly dismount, but the accident didn't break his spirit; the plucky competitor kept on fighting. He took even the toughest bulls head on, dominating the competition nearly every time he stepped into the arena. Renowned bull rider Cody Lambert remarked of the young man's spirit, "Chris Shivers never had to learn how to take defeat. He showed up and he could win." Shivers took on the bull riding world one 8-second ride at a time, and won his first Professional Bull Riders Touring Pro Division Championship in 1997, taking the title again in 2000, along with his first PBR World Championship title. 2003 ushered in Shivers' second World Championship, making him only the second cowboy in PBR history to earn this prestigious achievement. Shivers has nearly 100 90-point or better rides, nearly doubling that of his nearest competitor.

Moving On

Shivers' domination spanned for well over a decade. He took home to money at events across the country, building a massive fan base. When he wasn't riding his heart out in the arena, he was giving his all to his wife, Kylie, and young sons Blayne and Brand. Whispers began circulating about Shivers' retirement when his friends and touring partners Justin McBride and Mike White, in 2008 and 20120, respectively. Chris' attention began to drift while on the road, wandering to his family at home, his ranch, and all the things he could be doing instead of riding bulls. The Shivers family has built an impressive cattle ranch, where they host riding school and teach up-and-coming riders the finer points of the sport. As much as he is looking forward to retirement, Shivers didn't go out quietly. He won the second and third round of the 2012 PBR World Championship, energizing the crowd and showing the world that he is one of the most impressive bull riders in history.

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