To say Scotty Drennan had a lousy couple of years would be an understatement. Once a rising star of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the 33-year-old bareback rider with the World's Toughest Bulls & Broncs Tour has paid a painful price for trying to tame broncos for more than two decades. His neck had to be fused to relieve spinal damage, and both his knees were scoped to repair deteriorating cartilage. "I couldn't go on any longer," he says. "My neck kept getting sore. I got bad paralysis in my left arm. I could barely move. I could barely walk."
Not to mention compete. Before he was laid up, the Arkansas native was ranked 19th in his division, winning more than $54,000 in prize money during the 2003-2004 season. When he took off the last half of 2004 and most of 2005 to recuperate, his ranking tumbled to 46th. And his take-home pay amounted to a meager $17,200.
Then the rodeo called last August to invite him to join a nationwide tour. This weekend, Drennan and more than 100 competitors gallop into Cleveland for two days of bareback-, saddle bronc-, and bull-riding. In the bareback class, Drennan's set to redeem himself with a high-kicking, eight-second ride. "I like them to jump real high and hang in the air," he says. "There are horses that act like they're asleep, and there are others that are wild-acting. I prefer buckers, young or old."
While he plans to venture into the oil business when he retires, Drennan vows to ride out his rodeo days until his pain-wracked body tells him to stop. "I haven't won the world title yet," he says. "But at least I can say I gave it a whirl."
Sat., Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 26, 2 p.m.