By Eric Yang
on 1.18.12
Photo by EY

Going into its sixth year, the Professional Bull Riders descended on the Big Apple earlier this month, and with it an abundance of leather, flannel and denim in tow. But the rough-and-ready horde didn’t come here to talk style, but instead demonstrated the brutally tough sport of professional bull riding.

Kicking off a 10 month, 28 event series, which culminates in a gold buckle and a $1 million payout for the world champion, the PBR series begins at the Madison Square Garden Invitational, in the unlikely city of New York. Swapping out swarms of voracious NY sports fans and disgruntled commuters for scores of finely booted men and women (tight denim doesn’t just belong to the women of New York), MSG is suddenly transformed into an arena absent of hardwood, ice and Northeastern twang and filled with dirt, cages and a distinctively Southern drawl.

It’s no secret Professional Bull Riding (don’t call it a rodeo) gets less limelight than other pro sports, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less spectacular. Chock full of moments that leave you cheering, jeering and of course, wincing — an uppercut or tackle doesn’t pack quite the same wallop as the rear hoof of a scorned bull — PBR is a sport that brings the pain in spades. Just ask any of the top 40 bull riders who use every muscle and technique in an attempt to stay perched atop 2,000 lbs of angry bovine for an interminable 8 seconds. Often times, unsuccessfully, leaving themselves at the mercy of the clodhopper. It’s a sport that requires months of highly focused training and nerves of steel.

For this photo essay, PBR invited GP to attend the Invitational for an all-access look at the sport. Donning our cameras, one equipped with the ever popular tilt-shift lens, we captured the flurry from both the upper mezzanine of MSG right down to a disturbingly close bullpen perspective. The result is one our largest essays yet on a lesser known sport and an occasional look right into the eye of the bull.

Our photo essay begins right after the jump.

Photos by Eric Yang

Also consider watching a Rough Cut video of the PBR our friends at Cool Hunting put together.

Photo Essay

Slideshow

ADVENTURE IS ONE CLICK AWAY

Subscribe to GP for a daily dose of the best in gear, adventure, design, tech and culture. 5pm sharp.