Posted at: 07/15/2013 8:33 PM
Updated at: 07/17/2013 10:44 PM
By: Laura Kennedy
On the rodeo circuit, John Harrison wears many hats. First, he's a clown.
"When a person pays to be entertained, they want to be entertained the whole time," Harrison said. "So my job is, if there's a lull or dead spot in the show, to entertain them."
Later in the show, he saddles up his own horse and does some trick riding.
"Trick riding is something I always wanted to do and it's everything your mom told you not to do," Harrison said. "You sit up there and hang on, and I'm like the one trying to fall off the side. When you're upside down it kind of brings a whole new light to things."
But Harrison's night doesn't end there. He also serves as "barrel man" to rescue bull riders in peril.
"Bull riding is the toughest eight seconds on dirt. It's the toughest sport there is," he said. "My importance is to stay in that barrel and if somebody needs my help, to pick up that barrel, it's got two handles in it, get in the middle of the wreck and help them."
Rodeo life isn't easy. Injuries are inevitable.
"If you're in rodeo long enough you're gonna get hurt," Harrison said. "It's gonna happen no matter what event you're in, you're gonna take an injury. I've had both knee reconstructions, shoulder reconstructions and I'm due for a hip."
And the schedule can be grueling.
"We're on the road about nine months out of the year," he said.
But Harrison has company on the circuit. His wife and three kids are along for the ride, and his daughter is even part of the act.
"Having my family with me means a lot," Harrison said.
And he's gained an extended family along the way.
"They're like cousins to us. You might see them twice a year, you might see them 20 times a year. They're always good to see you," Harrison said.