To the untrained eye, riding a bucking horse can look like a painful series of bumps and jerks. Not according to Matt Marvel, a saddle bronc rider from Battle Mountain.
"When you make a good bronc ride, it's probably the best feeling in the world," he said. "When you're spurring a horse, you match your timing and your movement with the horse.
"When you've got your rhythm with that horse, it's amazing. It's a wild animal but you're almost dancing."
Marvel waltzed his way into tonight's final round of the Reno Rodeo with a score of 75 on his first ride and 80 on his second.
Other Nevada cowboys are doing their best to stay in that dance as well.
Jess Jones of Spring Creek scored a disappointing 68 points on his first ride, but came back to score an impressive 81 points on his second ride Wednesday night, making him the leader in the second go-round.
His cousin, Paul Jones, of Elko scored 80 points on his first bareback ride.
Even if his combined score isn't among the top 12, which qualify for tonight's final round, Jess Jones doesn't have any plans to hang up his spurs.
"You can always do better," he said. "And it's always fun."
Jones guesses he rode his first sheep before he could walk and he's just kept riding.
Marvel can't remember how old he was when he rode his first horse, but he always knew he wanted to ride bucking horses like his dad, Mike Marvel, who is a two-time Reno Rodeo champion and uncle, Joe Marvel.
He started competing in saddle bronc riding when he was 15.
"Back then, I'd get nervous," he explained. "But I was never scared."
His dad and uncle will still give him pointers, but he gets most of his advice now from other bronc riders. He said he doesn't see it as a conflict when cowboys help each other improve.
"I mean, you always want to win," he said. "You want to beat them, but you still want to help them out and see them do good. It reciprocates itself."
Although he said he no longer gets nervous before he rides, it can be more difficult at the Reno Rodeo.
"You're kind of in your home area so you can get to thinking you've got to really perform because people you know are watching," he said. "But you've got to put that out of your head and just do what you're doing.
"Just think about riding your bucking horse."
Contact Teri Vance at email@example.com or at 881-1272.