FARMINGTON — Life on the Pro Bull Riders tour is difficult.
Riders battle through broken bones and torn muscles while trying to avoid going weeks or even months without a putting together a qualifying ride all with the hopes of making the PBR Finals and becoming world champion.
But one thing that can make the pain easier to fight through and the droughts more bearable is having your brother by your side.
For the last year, Bloomfield natives Ryan and Joseph McConnel have enjoyed that luxury.
"I love it. We're always wanting to help each other," Joseph said. "It's one of the best feelings being out there with him."
Ryan, who is in his eighth year on the PBR tour, is enjoying having his younger brother on tour.
"It's a really good relationship, and it makes us more competitive," he said. "It's almost like the comfort level is a lot higher now. We've been away from each other for so long, but now we get to be together and go to all of these bigger bull riding events. It's a great experience to have him out here."
Joseph, who is seven years younger than Ryan, sees his older brother as a mentor and knows he's always there for advice when Joseph needs it.
"He just tells me to keep calm and not let anything get to me," Joseph said. "We all work together -- me, my brother and my dad."
Joseph has enjoyed success early in his career, winning the 2012 National High School Finals Rodeo bull riding title in Rock Springs, Wyo., and a Touring Pro Division event in Denver back in January.
Ryan said he doesn't really have anymore tips for Joseph after the strong start to his career.
"He's whipping me. I don't know if I have anymore advice to give him," Ryan said. "He's been showing up and been better than me. I'm rooting for him the whole time. I think he's going to be able to grow and keep moving forward."
One thing that Ryan thinks will help Joseph is being acclimated to the tour lifestyle at an early age.
"He had the chance where I could pull him on tour with me, and he could get a sniff of what's going on with all the TV cameras and the lights," Ryan said. "Other than that he's come together as a bull rider. I just look forward to him getting better all the time."
The brothers take every opportunity to help each other strategize for each ride and pass along experiences they've had with the bulls they draw.
"He's seen a lot of bulls I haven't and I've seen a lot of bulls that he hasn't," Ryan said. "It's really an advantage. We keep a good memory on everything we see as far as the bulls go. We take advantage of that."
The future is bright for both McConnel brothers as they try to qualify for the Built Ford Tough Series World Finals in Las Vegas.
"Joseph can accomplish a heck of a lot. I think he can go to the PBR finals and compete. I'm shooting for the finals. I'm starting to feel complete again," said Ryan, who has battled back from a torn hamstring and broken arm. "I'm healed up and have everything I need to go on and ride. I'm looking forward to the future for both of us."
Both McConnel brothers competed in the first Four Corners Ryan McConnel Invitational in Farmington on Friday and Saturday at the McGee Park Coliseum.
Ryan finished in sixth place by riding the bull Muddy Creek to score of 87 points during Saturday's long round while Joseph rode on Friday and was unable to put together a qualifying ride.
J.B. Mauney won the event with a two-ride total of 171.
Mauney, who is currently ranked No. 8 in the Built Ford Tough Series, was the only rider at the event to complete rides during both the long and championship rounds to earn the title.
"I've been on break at home and hadn't really gone anywhere in a little over a month," Mauney said. "Last night, I didn't do too well, but I was able to turn it around tonight. It just took a couple of bulls to get back into things and I felt good tonight."
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.