Eight Seconds to Fame

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    Leistner estimates that 30 to 40 percent of bull riders cover the eight-second span and even the best of the professionals cover only half the time. Leistner rode a bull at the Dubois County 4-H Fair on July 15, but was unable to cover the bull. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    ÒWithout him in my life, I couldnÕt ride a bull,Ó Leistner said about God and his faith. Leistner covered his heart with his hat during a prayer before the start of a rodeo near Belleville, Ill., on June 8. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Most evenings, Travis Leistner spends a few minutes atop a barrel covered with a carpet in the garage of his Holland home, as he did the evening of March 12. On the barrel, he practices the maneuvers he uses to counter the movement of a bull. ÒItÕs like a dancing partner. You want to keep in perfect timing and rhythm,Ó he said. The 23-year-old rode his first bull in December 2011 in New Caney, Texas. Since then, he has ridden about 160 bulls. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Leistner tried to get a firm grip on the rosin-covered rope wrapped around his practice barrel as he practiced counter maneuvers in the garage of his Holland home March 12. The ropes used in bull riding are lathered with rosin to make them sticky, giving riders a better grip. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    At 183 pounds, Leistner is a fraction of the weight of the 2,000-pound bulls he rides. To give himself a fighting chance, Leistner stays on top of his physical condition by lifting weights, running, jumping rope and doing situps, pushups and pullups. Leistner jumped rope in his Holland garage March 27. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Upon arriving to the rodeo near Belleville, Ill., on June 8, Leistner promptly searched for the bull he was assigned to ride that evening. The bull, branded F1, was familiar to Leistner because he had ridden it at another rodeo. Leistner often rides bulls heÕs ridden or seen ridden by another rider because many stock holders travel with their bulls to rodeos across the Midwest. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Leistner and his girlfriend, Ashley Crosby of Washington, grabbed a corn dog to eat for their dinner before the start of a rodeo near Belleville, Ill., on June 8. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Leistner, third from left, covered his heart with his hat during the playing of the National Anthem before the start of a rodeo near Belleville, Ill., on June 8. His girlfriend, Ashley Crosby of Washington, stood at his side. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Having arrived a couple hours before the rodeo began near Belleville, Ill., on June 8, Leistner killed time with his girlfriend, Ashley Crosby of Washington, in his car. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Because the excitement it provides for the crowd, bull riding is usually the last event of the night during a rodeo. Leistner spends much of his time waiting by keeping to himself, praying and studying his bull, as he did at a rodeo near Belleville, Ill., on June 8. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Before his bull was ushered into the chute during a rodeo near Belleville, Ill., on June 8, Leistner wrapped his rope around the bullÕs stomach and back. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    ÒI donÕt feel like IÕm living if IÕm not living a little rough,Ó Leistner said about riding bulls. Leistner lasted about 4 seconds atop the bull branded F1 during a rodeo near Belleville, Ill., on June 8. Bull riders are not scored for their ride unless they last 8 seconds on the bull. Then, they are scored for their own technique and the bulls are scored for their volatility. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Before leaving the rodeo grounds near Belleville, Ill., on June 8, Leistner was asked for his autograph by Amelia Hardimon of Mascoutah, Ill., 9. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Leistner largely makes his living by raising cattle on the family farm and working for the Huntingburg Street Department. He fed his cattle the evening of March 12. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald