Gary Richard may be 41, but that doesn't mean he's over the hill.
The pint-sized bull rider from Houston, Texas, earned a berth in the Championship Round of the Pendleton PBR Classic on Monday night with an 84-point ride on Willy Wonka, then notched an 87.5-point ride on Sky High Who to cinch up a third-place finish in the first of two rounds.
"I was just hoping I'd draw the one that fit me, and I did," said the 5-foot-4 Richard, who in another life might have been a jockey.
Dubbed "Grandpa" by his peers, Richard is currently the oldest rider in the Top 50 of the Challenger Tour standings.
In his sixth year in the PBR, he said he's been riding bulls for 28 years.
To put that in perspective, first-day leader Cauy Hudson of Elm Creek, Neb., is just 28 years old.
As a 5-year-old, Hudson said he remembered watching Richard compete in amateur rodeos. Twenty-three years later, they're in the same chutes.
"Still being healthy enough to ride and compete with us guys is something. I don't know if I'll be riding bulls when I'm that old. If I can health-wise, I probably will," Hudson said.
Particularly for a rider his age, Richard said that conditioning has been critical to his success.
"You've got to be physically and mentally in shape to ride bulls, so I wake up every morning, work out, do a little jogging, and let the Lord take care of the rest," he said.
"I feel like I'm 21, and having fun."