HOUSTON – The contestants you watch every night of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo are in the middle of their season, sometimes leaving for other states and returning to compete in between Houston competitions.
"Last year, I worked 110 performances, which means I stepped into the arena 110 times and fought bulls," Chris Swisher said.
They have to be ready to ride every night, no matter what. Here to keep them healthy are doctors like Houston Methodist's Taylor Brown.
"They tend to be very tough, as most professional athletes are, but they're not on a team, they don't get salary, they all paid an entry fee to ride three bulls, to ride three horses," Brown said "They don't get paid anything unless they ride, so the vast majority of rodeo athletes barely break even."
All at the risk of breaking bones -- and there's no force in this world that can keep a cowboy on the sidelines.
"The forces that they see is more than what a fighter pilot sees," Brown said.
"For what we do, the opportunity to win this much money and come to a rodeo this prestigious," said one cowboy, "Death is about the only thing that will keep a cowboy from Houston."
It's pure passion driving the show. From jumping on the bulls, to doctors standing invisible on the sidelines, all sacrificing something for the love of the sport.
Dr. Brown compares getting hit by the livestock to getting hit by a car. He said for injuries in the neck, spine or collapsed lungs, they would send a contestant to the Medical Center.