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Young bullrider represents 3 generations at state finals

By Taylor Mitchell
June 14, 2013 at 1:14 a.m.
Updated June 15, 2013 at 1:15 a.m.

Landon Castillo holds on as tightly as he can as a bull attempts to buck him off at a rodeo competition this year. Castillo, a freshman at Victoria East, is competing in the Texas High School Rodeo Association state rodeo in Abilene.

This Father's Day weekend, Robert Castillo will receive the best gift he could get.

Castillo will be watching his third son, Landon, get on a bull and ride at the Texas High School Rodeo Association state finals in Abilene.

"It's a blessing for me," the elder Castillo said. "There's no better feeling on Father's Day weekend than to watch my boys ride and compete."

Robert Castillo was a bull rider himself for many years, following in his father's footsteps, and now, his sons are following a similar path. His two oldest sons, Chris and Curtis, competed in various rodeos, and his youngest son, Kyle, is beginning ride also.

"It's a blessing to be doing this and honor my dad," said Landon, a freshman at Victoria East. "I want to keep the tradition going."

In his first season competing against other high school students, Landon earned a spot in the state finals rodeo and rode his first bull Monday. He rode again Friday night, but the THSRA isn't the only big rodeo Landon will be competing in.

Next week, Landon will compete in the Youth Rodeo Association rodeo in Gonzales. He currently ranks second overall in steer riding, compiling 1,025 points this season, and he's fifth in chute dogging with 590 points.

The years of hard work are beginning to pay off for Landon. He first began riding different animals as a young kid, while he watched his two older brothers compete in rodeos.

"I asked him if he wanted to participate, and he said he did," Robert Castillo recalled. "He choose to ride steers and then moved on to bulls, and that's where we are now. I'm very proud of him."

Other than the obvious difference in size, Landon says steers and bulls are opposites when it comes to riding them.

"It's a whole lot different," he said. "Sometimes, your steer won't run as hard, but the bull is always going to try and hurt you."

Landon has been riding bulls for eight months now but began with steers. His first time getting on the back of a bull is a memory Landon will never forget.

"It was one of the best things of my life. It was fun," he said. "It's hard to explain because of the adrenaline, but I wasn't nervous."

The switch from steers to bulls hasn't been the easiest, but he's made the transition as smooth as possible. That's not to say there haven't been a few bumps along the way.

"I've had my head stepped on, and I just came out of a broken collarbone," Landon said. "I had my kidney stepped on in junior high. I got hung up and didn't get to my feet quickly enough. He just stepped on my back."

"He's gotten torn up, beaten up, but he knew to expect that, and I told him to expect that when you get up to this caliber of bulls," Robert Castillo added.

Landon's father can generally be found right next to the chute, tightening the rope his son will use to try to stay on either a steer or bull. It's a nerve-racking experience, but its nothing like what his mother goes through.

"You can hear her holler from the stands," Robert Castillo said. "I understand the point of view of mothers and how stressful it is, but it's the same with me. I'm right next to him and hope nothing goes wrong, and we get a win."

No matter what the dangers involved are, competing in rodeos is something that is born in the Castillo men.

"It's a family tradition. It goes way back in our family," Robert said. "It's in our blood."



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