Very special guest this week on Bucket Talk. Eli Vastbinder is a veteran professional bull rider who just recently won his first buckle with PBR this year. Eli has been thriving this year and has qualified for, PBR World Finals in Fort Worth next month. Eli brings us through the life of a pro cowboy and everything he has encountered along the way. Ups and downs we get the inside look into the career of a cowboy and what it is like to be living your childhood dreams.
Eric Girouard 0:00
This is bucket top, a weekly podcast where people who work in the trades and construction that aren't just trying to survive, but have the ambition and desire to thrive. The opportunity to trade and construction is absolutely ridiculous right now. So if you're hungry, it's time to eat. We discuss what it takes to rise from the bottom to the top with people who are well on their way and roll up their sleeves every single day.
Jeremy Perkins 0:28
On this week of bucket talk, we have Eli VAs binder, Eli bass binder is a professional bull rider. Welcome,
Eli Vastbinder 0:36
Eli. Thanks for having me. Good to be here with you. Yeah, I've known you for a year. So they're brought. Glad to be part of this.
Jeremy Perkins 0:46
Hell yeah. So give us a little background. I mean, obviously, you're an athlete at the highest level. But there's a lot to unpack early on and what you do in your day to day life. So run us through, run us through, you know, how you came across. Ryan Bowles, what you do on a daily basis and and go from there. Yeah.
Eli Vastbinder 1:08
I'm 30. Bad to be 32 years old now. And living in Statesville, North Carolina. But I was born and raised in kind of central western Ohio, where I grew up in our rodeo family had some cousins and an uncle and grandparents, you know, rodeos and rode bulls. And so you know, I just kind of year up in it. Didn't really know anything else. You know, most kids at that age, were going to soccer games or football games on the weekend, and me and my brothers who we were, you know, headed to the rodeos. So yeah, I just kind of grew up in it wasn't nothing as long as I can remember. It's what I've wanted to do. And it's, you know, something that I've changed since I was a rural walk. And so, yeah, but growing up there, it wasn't that easy. You know, it's kind of an area where it's not decision courage, you know, a popular thing. So, you know, I kind of lived in North Carolina returned in 18, I moved to Texas and North Carolina and moved around, and kind of got in where I fit in and met some, you know, I just kind of kept finding guys that were better than me, whether that was the weather, they were living in Texas or Tennessee, wherever I could kind of find the best group of guys to be around and to, you know, get to where I was wanting to go. That's where I kind of moved. I moved to Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, back to Texas, Oklahoma. And he's kind of kept jumping around to find, you know, the next best guy to be around and yeah, and then I ended up meeting my wife in North Carolina and score I've been ever since.
Jeremy Perkins 3:00
Awesome, awesome. So it sounds like you obviously jumped around a lot. But walk me through how you do livestock handling and and, you know, how you actually got into the livestock business itself? You know, do you have horses at home? Did you grow up in that? Like, what
Eli Vastbinder 3:20
I did, I grew up in that my mom she was you know, kind of a barrel racer and, and, you know, kinda end with the horses and, and so I grew up riding horses, you know, and I team roped in and calf ropes and steer wrestled, you know, and did other events other than just drag and bulls. You know, I grew up horseback and and, but like my uncles and my cousins, they all Red Bulls and and then after they were done riding bulls, they start them rodeo company. And by the time they kind of took off I was seeing now you know, prior 11 or 12. And you know, we found bulls, we found all the stock for the rodeos. And so I was always, you know, feeding the owl bulls, cattle and horses and you know, going and setting up the rodeos. And that kind of was the behind the same as the kid that was running around that was just kind of probably getting in everybody's way, you know, at the rodeo. That was me, you know, I I looked up to all them guys. And this this is I'm literally living a dream, you know, everything that even my problems today, you know, even the things I complain about, you know, at that point in time back then I was dreaming I'm having these problems. So you know, I'm literally live in a dream.
Jeremy Perkins 4:37
Yeah, it's funny. I got a six year old and, you know, obviously he's up here on the horse farm and, you know, people will be tacking up or going for a ride and he's jumping out of hay lofts and spooking horses, and he's always getting yelled at and, and I always wonder, you know, like, do I need that that straight laced kid that wants to muck stalls or do whatever or, or is this kid gonna make it in the horse? World.
Eli Vastbinder 5:00
Yeah, you know, it's a good way to grow up you know, the western lifestyle horses cattle, it doesn't matter, you know, you just get him out of video games and you know, get them out thought and they'll be just fine.
Jeremy Perkins 5:13
Yeah, it's it's hysterical he we got him a little pony and his sister decides to lead rope him around, but he'll he doesn't want to tack up he'll just ride it'll just ride bareback and and there's no posting there's no nothing he's just getting just smacked along the hallway around and he loves every minute of it. Yeah, she
Eli Vastbinder 5:33
maybe try putting him on boy you know, as my, my everyday routine of, you know, trying to stay in shape to ride bulls, this ride my horses bareback, you know, every day in the evenings. You know, what, before I feed, I just pull one out and jump on boats and circles and trot around a little bit. And it kind of just, you know, it's the closest thing you're gonna get to, you know, boron is, you know, getting out alive animals, you know, getting on a horse like that.
Jeremy Perkins 6:02
Yeah, yeah. So, um, I mean, you know, I'm new to the, I'm new to this, this livestock agriculture space. And, and I always love to pick people's brains, but like, what was one of the most challenging things for you? growing up and learning about bowls was it was, uh, was it anatomy? Was it veterinarian care? Like, what, what was what was a big challenge for you?
Eli Vastbinder 6:26
She, you know, for me, you know, like, I would say, you know, as a veterinarian, there's just so much, you know, I mean, anybody, if you own an animal, you know, nobody really understands if it's sick, what exactly they give it, whether it's a cat or dog, you know, cow horse, you know, just so much could be wrong with it anymore. But yeah, that's something I struggle with. But you know, as just the, you know, my biggest struggle for me, but probably say, be living, that lifestyle of being a farmer or rancher, and here, and also being a dad, and then also being a professional ball router. You know, that's, it's just a lot, you know, I, you know, I'm trying to start me my own, you know, place and we'll just build a house, and we've got some land, we're running, you know, a handful of cows that have calves and, and, you know, we have a couple other properties that are spread out around my house, you know, so, and then by the time I take care of all the animals, and then be a dad, and then you know, put them to bed and then go back out to the barn for, you know, another two or three hours and get my training. And, you know, that's, that's the toughest part for me, you know, with all of it.
Jeremy Perkins 7:46
Yeah, I mean, I couldn't imagine. I mean, I traveled probably once a month with Brian and, and, you know, just being away for a week or a weekend or whatever. It's, it's a lot. I couldn't imagine being away for every weekend.
Eli Vastbinder 8:00
Yeah, I usually get home Mondays afternoons. And I'm home Tuesday, Wednesday, and majority of the time I fly back out Thursday. And, you know, I'm gone all week. And this is every week, you know, so every week. Yeah. So it's tough to now. Make sure everything's took care of in those just two or three days.
Jeremy Perkins 8:24
So how long have you been a professional bull rider, at least on the PVR circuit?
Eli Vastbinder 8:28
Oh, this on the PBR I've been. I've been with them since 2017, or 18. I take that back after I take it back since 2020, or 2020. Tuesday out this program about 2011 till 2019 or 2020. I was with the PRCA that professional rodeo cowboys Association, which is it is the barrel race in the bronc ride and the rope in the ball rod and it's good professionals of the whole entire rodeo rattled. PBR is just the book.
Jeremy Perkins 9:10
Now would you consider and you don't have to answer this question, but it's just curiosity sake. Would PBR be more than the PR che or is it completely different?
Eli Vastbinder 9:21
It's completely different. But I mean, if you if you want to look at it as then money wise or the Kate the the possibilities of, you know, money and earnings. Yeah, the PBR is gonna pay you a lot more to be number one in the world than it is with PRCA. Mostly just because the PBR is all their money put into just Borden where the PRCA their money is dispersed throughout, you know, seven other events. So, yeah, either you're gonna set yourself up a little bit better We're probably in the PVR and put more of a name out there for you. But it's completely different really, to, you know, there's guys that are in the PRCA that ride better than Yeah, majority of the guys that's at the PBR, but it's just kind of what they either grew up in, or it's just what they like, you know, they it's a totally different lifestyle. And those guys, those guys are true warriors. I mean, they get on bulls, you know, every other day, you know, where we go home Monday through Thursday, get on Friday, Saturday and Sunday them guys get on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, you know, I've slept seven days a week. And so with getting us getting older, it was a little more easier on my body to come back over here to the PVR
Jeremy Perkins 10:51
that's awesome. That's awesome. Actually, I was I when I when I came down to my first PBR event with with you guys I was I was in awe. I mean, every I was in awe of everything. But one of the things that caught me is the bull ropers that just sit there with the with the Border Patrol, chaps and everything on and just watching their horse control and their roping abilities. And it was unbelievable.
Eli Vastbinder 11:19
For sure, for sure. Yeah, the the guys are out there. They're really handy at what they're doing that they you know, what they do you know that they're out there to get the bull out of the rain and but they're also out there for our safety. So yeah, them guys are amazing cowboys.
Jeremy Perkins 11:35
That's crazy. And, and they traveled with the circuit the entire time, correct?
Eli Vastbinder 11:40
Yeah. You know, there's, there's three or four of them throughout, you know, the 50 states that though, you know, whatever events are close to to that guy. That's, you know, that sort of, they'll get but yeah,
Jeremy Perkins 11:55
so obviously, let's talk about the negativity of the sport and that is getting hurt. And it's, you know, as we've dealt with, with Bryant, we've, we've dealt with snow cross, we've dealt with professional bull riding NASCAR and a few others. And what we realized is as the season progresses, you start to lose people due to injuries and snowcross, for example, a few of our a few of our riders are, are pretty banged up by by season. And so how do you stay healthy? What do you try to avoid? And, you know, how do you make it all the way to the end? Yeah, yeah.
Eli Vastbinder 12:34
Yeah, it's business. Unless, you know, I don't know, you know, I've been super blessed, fortunate, you know, to not have the injuries a lot of the other guys have had, you know, for the most part, I'm pretty healthy. You know, there's a couple things that, you know, get me problems, you know, from day to day, but nothin out like a broken leg that I have to sit out or, you know, whatever the case is, you know, our other bronc rider Casey Roberts, not only does he break his leg, he breaks in both legs a couple of weeks ago in Dallas, and you know, now he's out for a year more so, but it definitely happens. And it's, we've all been there, I've been there. But you know, it's just, it's, you know, the things I don't like about bull riding are the things that I can't control. And that you know, the bull stumblings Or what I nod for the gate, that guy messing up and it caused me in the bull to get a mind you know, and next thing you know, he runs down the side of the buck and shoots clips, Malay, you know, and rips it backwards, you know, those are the things that I don't those are the things that scare me and bore you know, I trust my ability to know that you know what, for the most part whatever circumstance that I'm in I have I'm in enough control that I can get myself out of it. Whether or not I make the seconds or not, but I can get myself out of it and get to a safe position.
Jeremy Perkins 14:15
Now one of the one of the things I learned with horse handling is is you can't show fear because the horse consents fear bulls the same way
Eli Vastbinder 14:24
Yeah, I'm sure yeah, you know. Yeah, and yet they are they are that way. You know, you can probably tell a little bit more about when a horse than a bull but you know, if if you put an amateur kid on bull that and put him in the button she's Babbel act different than if you put a professional guy on, you know, a guy at Notre Dame and you can watch the bowl put them in them. Bekenstein is a guy that knows what he's doing. We'll get in there both Dan probably more than likely really well. And and just stand there ready to go rather than a gay kid that has no idea his heart's beating the nerves are there he's stressed out now he's you know making the boy agitated now he's, you know, me and I'm so yeah, you are.
Jeremy Perkins 15:15
So now how does a guy like Chase outlaw come back from an injury like that? I mean, it's, it's, I watch him he's in my mind insane right? But like, is it really for the love of the sport? Is it money is it just is it just that's what you loved?
Eli Vastbinder 15:35
I think he's just insane now if you knew jays, you would probably say that now.
You know, it is for the love of it, you know, but I say is for the love of it. But it's hard. It's hard to. It's hard to put in words, you know, we love this. We love riding bulls for the thrill love it. chore, lead journal inch or whatever, the conquer and the Beast, but this way we supply for our family, you know, I mean, and me and chase both we're both 30 years old 30 Plus, we've done put in 1012. You know, our whole entire life we've done put it into just Bora we have no plans we have if it's more out in India now. Man Chase would be the first ones go. I mean, the you know, like we were in it so deep that, you know, we have no way of backing out, you know, it's all or nothing whether you you're hurt, whether he chases an injury, whether he breaks his face has all these plates and rods and screws and all this done. You know, the first thing that he's thinking of when he gets out of hospital is how long do I have until I can get back on the one my babies are still early in the bill still need bade I have shipped improved in out. I mean,
Jeremy Perkins 17:02
one of the things that I from PVR when I was growing up to PBR now we've now incorporated Brazil, Mexico, we are now pretty much from North America to South America. Do you see this sport being any bigger? Like are there followings in Europe, Spain?
Eli Vastbinder 17:21
This morning that lasts for weeks of the PBR getting there on CBS is the biggest four weeks that we've had ever, or of all times is to over several million or several million views every Sunday. It's definitely grown and now they've brought in this whole team's concept. And, you know, and everybody, even myself, we weren't sure how it was gonna go. But shoot, people can pick the city that they live nearby, you know, support it rocket, get know, the guys, you know, and it's brought a whole new team concept and brought a whole new era of people and you know, it brought a whole new group of individuals that just like teams and support their locals, you know, support their local team. Yeah, I think it is.
Jeremy Perkins 18:18
Yeah, and actually, you bring up a good point, because I know really nothing about teams other than the stuff we've talked about. And what's interesting is, is like, it was a level of discomfort, like it broke the cycle. This is the way PBR has always been. And some guys liked it, some guys didn't like it. And now we're, we're in our second season, I believe of teams. And, and are you starting to see momentum? Are you starting to see people embrace it a little bit more?
Eli Vastbinder 18:46
Yeah, for sure. We are, you know, and, and bowriders. You know, I was one of them, you know, like, he, you know, and, and there's pros and cons to both of them, and you know, for me, but I like the camaraderie that comes with having that team, you know, I mean it, and I like building that bond. And I like being able to, for that guy, to look me in the eyes next to me, and you know, and know that I'm about to give my 100% from me, him, my family, his family, you know, it's a totally different feeling that you ever had, you know, and you'll try, you know, way harder, knowing that you're not only for me and my girls, but him and his girls in our and he you'll see guys try and you use the boards that you won't ever see. And the regular season just people just not willing to give up.
Jeremy Perkins 19:46
Well, one of the cool things that I saw about a sport that I never knew about and I'll pass it along to our listeners is until you slap a logo on a bull riders back, you don't realize how much they do throughout that of Then, right? So you figure, you've, as we've watched our brand logo, our brand logo is helping other people get ready, you know, assisting and all sorts of stuff. And we're following it around. And we're like, holy cow. I didn't realize how much Eli, how much Casey, how much Jr. Does does throughout the, the events for other riders and supporting other riders. And it was until we put that, that logo on the back that we got a sense for what an event looks like, in your eyes.
Eli Vastbinder 20:31
Yeah, yeah. You know, is, is is it's like no other event. I mean, there's, there's no other sport like this. I mean, yeah, we are against each other in a way we are competing against each other, but no reality, we're just competing against the bulls. And his bulls again, do the same thing my bulls gonna do. So you know, what it is, what it is what he draws, he draws what I draw is what I draw, let's just do the best on what we have. And let's be you know, let it let the best man win in the end, you know, because today, I'll win tomorrow, he'll have a better bowl, and he'll win. And, you know, and, you know, we, this is a sport where, you know, look at any other sport, the number one guy in the world is doing his job correctly, but less than 50% of the time. So this shit fucking best guy in the world, the best football players only, you know, is working, do make a good place 50% of the time, you know what I mean? Like, so this should stop. And you know, and we all understand how tough it really is. And so, you know, you're there to help and push, you know, each person and every guy because, you know, us know how hard it really is. Well, I
Jeremy Perkins 21:53
was looking at the standings for last last weekend, and there were 15 riders. And there were only two qualifying rods. So that tells you how hard the sport is. And you know, anybody can be on top one day, it's always it's always a pairing of, of ability, healthiness, and then the bowl itself. Do you do you go out there and try to choose the nastiest bowl? Or is it?
Eli Vastbinder 22:18
Yeah, it just kind of depends on the situation, you know? Yeah, there's days where you come back and in your very first pick number one pick, and you have 15 bulls to choose from, and you guys just slot in there and just pick the one that is the guaranteed stay on. Or you come back, you know, eight or nine, and good ones are really picked. And there's a couple just okay, and you just want to say winging it and pick the toughest one, or you come back 15th or 12th, or whatever, they you know, that that final, the last guy in the round, you know, and you have no option what everybody else did. So, yeah, you know, it's just different each event, every time you walk up on that stage, you don't really know what you're gonna pick until, you know, it just kind of comes to you.
Jeremy Perkins 23:11
Alright, last last poll question. And is there is there a farm or a region or whatever that produces the, the most PVR bulls or is it is it really just, they pull from everywhere?
Eli Vastbinder 23:26
And, you know, there's bulls and bull owners and and ranches, and thought contract is from everywhere, and then come from all over, you know, from New York to California. You know, there's, there's people, you know, raised in bucking bulls and, and, you know, and many more it's, it's grown to where it's surpassed the racehorses, you know, there's people that are breeding these things to where nobody will ever ride them. You know, they're cloning. Oh, man there. Yeah, the genetics is just on Norio of, you know, how far they're taking it. And so, but I will say that, it seems like there's the Midwest there, the South, you know, like, Oklahoma, of Missouri, Kansas, Texas. Yeah, like that. Does that area. Yeah, there's just there's a lot of really, really good bulls that come out of the ambo writers, but yeah, there's just seems to be a lot of bulls.
Jeremy Perkins 24:28
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it was funny because what is it? Jalen Swearengen. He comes out in New York. So that's kind of different for a lot of a lot of people because you're thinking Midwest, you think it's the South?
Eli Vastbinder 24:43
Yeah, cowboys are everywhere. Yeah, it was everywhere. Yeah. daylon and his family up there. They've raised bucking bulls, and putting on rodeos and New Jersey. I've been rodeos, New Jersey main core back. Man, it doesn't matter. VNL Southern California, Seattle. I mean, they're
Jeremy Perkins 25:06
awesome. Awesome. So outside of everything, you know, sounds like you have a very busy schedule. But what do you like to do to unwind? What how do you want back from all this?
Eli Vastbinder 25:18
Yeah, you know, it's been it's been a while. I guess I don't I don't really know. Yeah, I'm a dad. And I've really, I've really started to really enjoy that, you know, my kids are, you know, 17 months, and they're, they're on the move. And every day I just, it just blows me away. You know that they're mine and that I created Oh, yeah. Yeah, I have twin daughters. So I have two of them. So every day I was Holy shit. I have your fucked. Holy shit. Like yeah, now so I enjoyed going home and just eat whether it's just sitting on the couch watching them play with each other on around on the floor or whatever. Now I've enjoyed it. And, but I like roping I like being horseback I enjoy work. And you know, we just built a house and we both a little ranch and you know, and so I enjoy being out there working every day. And and yeah, you know, I just like being home anymore. Growing up, I'd never wanted to go home. I just want to stay gone. Sleep on whoever's couch. I didn't care nowadays that I'm on the first flight home.
Jeremy Perkins 26:37
Oh, yeah. All right. So we're at the we're at the end of the show. I thank you for being on this has been this has been awesome. I you know, I've got to know a little bit about your story over over our meetings. But you know, this was this was great for our our podcast listeners to learn. But if there's anything, any questions, anything you want to throw out there, now's your time to do so.
Eli Vastbinder 27:00
Yeah, I mean, I don't really have any questions I got. I got a statement for Eric with Bryant. I got these T shirts. And I love them. I'm the I'm needing some more. All right. And I just, I gotta have them.
Jeremy Perkins 27:17
Well, I'll forward that on to the boss. You get some more T shirts? By hell. Yeah. Thank you for being on Eli. This was great. And good luck this weekend.
Eli Vastbinder 27:27
I appreciate it, man. Thanks for having me. Oh, yeah.
Jeremy Perkins 27:31
And as a special thanks to our loyal listeners. Were giving $10 off your next purchase of $60 or more at brunch. workwear.com Use Discount Code bucket talk. That's bucket talk. 10
Hailing from North Carolina, Eli is a seasoned vet to the PBR rodeo series and spends the majority of his time honing in his craft and getting better. Eli met his now wife in North Carolina and is no stranger to moving around. He has lived all over the country to compete at the highest level in the sport.
Vastbinder is one of the grittiest guys around and shows us how a real man balances family and work life. Eli brings us through his training routine and the joys of being a father and raising a child with his wife. Eli is 33 years old and has been with PBR since 2020 and rode professionally for years before then in a rodeo series more broad expanding past bull riding.
We get to see why Eli made the decision to switch to PBR and what it is like having the gnarliest sport on the planet as an occupation and the dangers that come with being a pro bull rider and getting on the back of an animal that could easily cause deadly harm. Tune in for this action packed episode.