“You Can’t Have Great Bull Riders Without Great Bulls”
Jeremy Walker operates his stock contracting business with a single mission: to produce a PBR World Champion Bull.
As the owner of Paradigm Bull Company, he takes on the arduous challenge of spotting bulls with world-class potential and molding them into the next PBR superstars.
“My job is to find them, manage them, maintain them, breed them if I have to, whatever it takes to get an elite set of bulls together and hold them together, year after year,” he says.
His job is different each day. Typical operations include feeding and grooming, but there are also much more challenging aspects such as overseeing a prized bull’s care after illness or injury.
There’s also a social media component. With more than 23,800 followers on Walker’s personal Instagram profile, rodeo fans are clamoring to see the bulls in action.
It’s rare to find someone capable of handling every unique element of the bull business, but Walker is specially qualified for his role. With more than 13 years of stock contracting experience, he’s become attuned to the animals and their behavior.
“They’re naturally prey animals, so they’re wired to hide any kind of pain or weakness or anything they’re dealing with,” he says. “You really have to pay attention to the small things before they turn into big things.”
This level of care is precisely why Walker has grown to become one of the most trusted stock contractors in the bull business.
From Bull Rider to Stock Contractor: A Natural Evolution
Walker rode bulls for more than a decade but transitioned into the world of stock contracting in 2008.
“I always was fascinated by the animals,” he recalls.“Looking back on it, I always paid too much attention to the bulls. But I believe that was a phase in my life I had to go through to be able to give me the kind of understanding and know-how to be able to look at an animal and see how he bucks.”
It took him some time to save enough money to get his business off the ground, so in the meantime, he sought opportunities to learn the trade.
Even when faced with hardships, he soldiered on. For instance, in 2011, just six months after he got his first real set of bulls, a drought scorched the grass and pastures.
“It was a fight and a struggle the entire time,” he recalls.
He opted out of breeding the bulls and instead began buying bulls from other stock contractors. Typically, he’d seek out bulls that showed promise but perhaps needed extra care to reach their full potential.
Things took off in 2016, the same year he started Paradigm Bull Company. He was working with a partner at the time who wanted bulls for PBRs. Walker told him he needed a short round bull then took it upon himself to find one.
That bull was Pearl Harbor, who went on to become the 2016 PBR Reserve World Champion Bull.
Learning a Tough Lesson
Despite Pearl Harbor’s extraordinary accomplishment, it was a bittersweet experience for Walker.
In the weeks leading up to the 2016 PBR World Finals, Pearl Harbor had been the PBR’s top-ranked bull. But, at a rodeo in Napa, Idaho, SweetPro’s Bruiser managed to edge Pearl Harbor out of first. Determined to hang on to the first-place ranking, Walker set out to take Pearl Harbor to a PBR event in Tucson, Ariz., where a solid score would allow the bull to reclaim its number one spot.
However, a trusted friend convinced Walker to skip the event in order to ensure Pearl Harbor was in peak shape for the World Finals, which were approaching quickly. Rejecting his own instincts to have the bull compete in Tucson, Walker accepted his friend’s common sense recommendation and refrained from making the trip.
Unfortunately, that decision backfired.
Rather than using the bulls’ seasonal cumulative scores to determine the World Champion Bull, their scores reset to zero for the event. The animals’ event average scores on two heads would determine the winner.
When Bruiser’s and Pearl Harbor’s scores resulted in a three-way tie alongside SweetPro’s Long John, the bulls’ cumulative season scores served as the tiebreaker. This meant Pearl Harbor was the runner-up.
“That was a jagged pill that I had to swallow,” he says.
But the experience also taught him an important lesson.
“If you want to do something, you have to commit to 100 percent and give it everything you have. If you don’t, you’ll get your ass kicked by the guys that do.”
Success as a Stock Contractor
Through his years in the stock contracting business, Walker’s become an expert in working with the bulls on their own terms. This ability helps him succeed where others may not be so adept.
A notable example involves one of Paradigm’s better-known bulls, now known as Marquis Metal Works Bill the Butcher. The son of the athletically-gifted Air Time, Bill the Butcher (then known as A.J., for Air Time Jr.) was in a difficult spot in October 2018 after he ceased to buck as hard as he could during an Unleash the Beast event in Greensboro, N.C. This type of failure will typically end a bull’s career.
Walker later assessed the bull and recognized it had serious potential. Though he recognized the challenge of getting the bull back into the PBR’s good graces, he shared his thoughts with Ben and Cinda Marquis, who decided to purchase the animal and trusted Walker with its care. Walker took to rehabbing Bill the Butcher, a process that included electromagnetic therapy treatment.
It paid off, and Bill the Butcher was invited back to the PBR. In 2020, he made his way to the PBR World Finals in Arlington, Tex.
Credit Where Credit is Due
In addition to Bill the Butcher, the Paradigm roster includes several other noteworthy names among its 50 or so bulls. Marquis Metal Works Coriolis Effect is a strong contender for this year’s World Champion Bull title. Red Clark is among the top ten bulls in the PBR and remains unridden to date. Zero Time, a half-brother to the legendary Air Time, is steadily climbing the rankings.
“I like the riders to know that when they have one of mine, they’ve got a shot at winning first,” he says. “A bull rider shouldn’t have to get on two bulls to get one score.”
Walker thinks the animals deserve more credit in the sport. He recalls a discussion with his good friend, Jess Lockwood, about the role the bulls have played in the rodeo star’s monumental success.
“I told Jess, ‘What would you be without great bucking bulls? You would not be a two-time multimillionaire world champion,” Walker recalls. “Because without the best bulls, we don’t know who the best bull rider in the world is every year.”
Even for bulls that are bred for it, it’s no easy feat for a bucking bull to continue to perform week after week, year after year.
“You can’t have great bull riders without great bulls. You gotta give credit where credit’s due. These animals are the other half of it. The guys who can ride the great ones, they make a lot of money. A lot more than the bulls make,” he jokes.