Relentless rodeo rider

awileman@sierrastar.comApril 29, 2014 

For most people eights seconds seems like a brief moment in time, but for a rider on top of a 800-pound ferocious bull, eight seconds can seem like an eternity. For 21-year-old John Miller it's all just part of the job.

The 5-foot-8, 145 pound Miller, who was born and raised in Ahwahnee, has been bull riding since he was 13-years-old. With no family history and very little exposure to bulls the amateur bull rider says he started out riding anything that crossed his path.

"I have always been around horses and goats and would ride anything I could get my hands on," Miller said.

After attending the Coarsegold and Chowchilla Rodeos on numerous occasions, Miller almost immediately recognized his passion for bull riding.

"After a little while I got used to it and thought it wasn't so bad," Miller said. "I told myself, I could do that."

The winner of the California High School Rodeo Association State Finals in 2011, Miller has since been competing in bull riding events all over the country including his most recent ride in Idaho where he placed fourth out of 30 riders.

Although Miller has never had a fear of bulls, like most riders in a sport where riding a 800-pound bull is only half the challenge, he still has to deal with unexpected injuries.

Miller has suffered broken finger and a dislocated elbow. One specific injury Miller recalls nearly brought his riding to an end.

While riding a bull during a practice session in Fresno, Miller was thrown to the ground by a bull which inadvertently and abruptly struck Miller in the chest.

Although Miller was wearing his chest protector, designed to absorb some of the blow, the bulls hoof slipped under the vest striking Miller directly in the abdomen. The results were several rib injuries and a ruptured duodenum, a serious injury where the small intestines near the stomach becomes torn.

"The bull got right underneath my vest and it just popped it. It popped a quarter size hole and I went to the hospital and got patched up," a nonchalant Miller said.

Miller would spend several weeks in the hospital but this would not hold him back. After months of recovery Miller was back on a bull. Miller will be making his fourth appearance at the Coarsegold Rodeo and has been unable to qualify for a score in his previous three appearances, but he plans on this being his year.

"My plan is to ride eight seconds and pick up a pay check," Miller said with confidence.

When asked about what the Coarsegold Rodeo means to him, Miller said it played a huge part in his introduction and passion for the sport.

"It's one of those I always enjoyed going too. It's one of the places I started, and my parents always took me out there. It was one of the reasons I started bull riding," Miller said.

To witness first hand the incredible resilience and the competitive nature of Miller , head over to the Bohna Arena off Raymond Road (415) in Coarsegold at 1:30, Saturday and Sunday May 3 and 4. The two-day event has something for all the family to enjoy. Miller will ride Sunday during the amateur CCPRA event.

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