The cowboy code is passed down, unquestioned, to the next generation. At Fruita, I met a young cowboy called Devian. He's thirteen and says riding bulls is “like a drug, mam”.
Observing Dev, it seems not only does he emulate the older cowboys by following them into this sport, but he mirrors all their facial expressions, intonations of speech and body language. Above all his motivation to ride a bull seems to be to impress his elders.
He paces up and down the pen with his helmet on, his face full of focus and determination. I'm not sure if he's concentrating on the imminent bull ride or concentrating on his appearance of concentration? He adjusts his helmet, he hits his helmet to fire himself up for the big ride, no smiling at this point of the game.
After a successful ride he punches the air, after a fall he throws his helmet to the grown to vent his frustration and disappointment.
Although moments later his youthful exuberance shines through, endorphins take over as words tumble from his mouth as he talks me through every movement he’s made on the bull ride, every emotion he felt.
I visited Devains house, he introduced me to his parents, elder brother and younger sister, his three horses, two dogs one duck and several chickens.
As I photographed him in the evening light his boyishness, his innocence and vulnerability were both evident and enchanting. He has a natural elegance in front of the camera, an amazing ability to ignore yet play up to the lens.
The strange dichotomy of this beautiful boy striving to be a tough cowboy was very apparent. The contradiction magnified by his adolescence, so transient and fleeting, the eight-second bull ride so violent and volatile.
Later in the year, I witness the perhaps the enviable, Dev was seriously hurt. As he fell from the bull his hand was caught in the rope, referred to as hung up, he cold not get clear from the bucking bull and its his hind legs came down they crushed devs right leg shattering his right tibia. There were some painful weeks of recovery but when I went to see Dev, still in a cast and on crutches he was already taking of his come back.