Yelm military bull rider working to turn hobby into profession

Authement Jr. competed in this month’s Roy Rodeo


Walter Authement Jr. is proud to call himself an adrenaline junkie. The U.S. Army infantryman stationed in Yelm enjoys bungee jumping and used to practice parkour, including jumping and doing flips off of high walls and buildings.

Last summer, he checked off another box on his adrenaline bucket list: bull riding. Authement, a native of Chauvin, Louisiana, visited Slide & Ride Rodeo, a country bar, while on a trip to Jackson, Tennessee, and experienced the brief thrill of riding a live bull for the first time.

“Even though it lasted less than a second, I loved the rush about it. I’m an adrenaline junkie, so I do a lot of crazy stuff,” he said. “That first experience was definitely what got me hooked on bull riding.”

After Authement, 25, returned to Washington, he began practicing bull riding in Silver Creek in between his work in the Army. His first rodeo was the Roy Rodeo last September, where he competed in the military bull-riding category and finished in second place at 5 seconds.

Since then, Authement has jumped on a bull in five more similar events, including the Roy Rodeo again this month. His best experience was last month, when he lasted 7.5 seconds — just a half second away from covering a bull, or staying on for the minimum 8 seconds to earn a score.

“No matter how experienced you are, it all depends on how strong that bull bucks. You can be the greatest rider in the world, like J.B. Mauney, for instance. The first time he rode Bushwacker the bull, he got thrown off in a few seconds and it took him 13 times to cover it,” Authement said.

Authement added that he enjoys the unexpected nature of riding a bull and is working to fine tune his technique so he can better expect the unexpected.

“You can’t anticipate the movement of the bull. These contractors will tell you that they will spin left or right, and then they spin the opposite way because the faster you get bucked off, the more they get paid,” he said. “You just have to watch their head. Whatever way they look before they buck is the way they turn. I also recently learned not to extend my off hand all the way out and to keep my elbow at a 90-degree angle and keep my palm facing up like I’m holding a pizza.”

Authement is seven years into his service in the Army and hopes to retire after 20 years while keeping bull riding his primary hobby. He hopes that a professional bull-riding opportunity will present itself in the future.

“I’m doing it as a hobby right now, but if there’s an opportunity that comes that is better than just doing it as a hobby, I’ll definitely jump on that. It just depends on my schedule with the military because I plan on retiring out of that first,” he said.

In the remainder of his tenure in the Army, Authement aims to continue to increase his rank and earn more awards while traveling the world. In his seven years, he has been stationed in Yelm but has visited California, Canada and South Korea. He encourages those interested in joining the military to have a hobby that they can use as an escape.

“This is a good way to be around animals and to get away from the work atmosphere. It takes me back home working on a ranch and being around the animals,” Authement said. “If you’re pressed between joining the military and doing something else, just know that if you have hobbies, you can do them while you’re in the military. With me being a staff sergeant in the military, I get to ride bulls. My chain of command knows that I do it, but they just make sure that I’m safe so that I can still do my job effectively in the battlefield.”

Authement will return to the Roy Rodeo on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 to continue to work toward his goal of covering a bull.