BILLINGS — Parker Breding appreciates the advice. He truly does.
But this is a difficult decision, like the others, he will ultimately make himself.
Family, friends and fans have offered kind words and thoughts to the Edgar cowboy since the best year of his bull riding career came to a jarring halt at the Calgary Stampede.
Even former world bull riding champions Jim Sharp and Kody Lostroh — two of his bull riding heroes — have offered their opinions on what Breding’s final decision should be.
“There’s definitely options … at least I have options,” said Breding with a sigh from his home on Friday afternoon.
The three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier suffered a potential season-ending knee injury during Wednesday’s performance of the Calgary Stampede.
Breding, 26, tore both the ACL and MCL of his left knee after getting caught in an awkward position while trying to dismount the bull Late Nite Host owned by Kesler Rodeo.
“I made a good ride,” Breding recalled. “He was a smaller bull and when I went to get off, he wouldn’t quit spinning. I had troubles with my rope and put one foot down in the dirt. My other foot was on his back as I was trying to get off him.
“He got my left knee sideways and pulled it so much, the knee couldn’t handle anything extreme like that. When it buckled, I heard a loud pop.”
Breding hopped back to the chute and told the gathered bull riders, including 2017 Professional Bull Riders world champion Jess Lockwood who had helped him before his ride, “I tore my knee up.
“I hoped it was something minor but knew in the back of my mind it was something severe.”
Breding had also torn some smaller ligaments associated with his ACL and the top of his tibia has some small fractures.
Breding was treated by Calgary Stampede medical personnel and then began the nine-hour drive back home. He got as far as Great Falls.
“I shoved it down there as far as I could. It definitely was not fun,” Breding said with a chuckle of his left leg in a partially bent position.
He was met in Great Falls by his father Scott and sister Lacey. After a late dinner, the three made their way back to Edgar.
“I thought I could make it all nine hours back home,” said Breding. “But by the time I got to Great Falls, my leg was killing me. I’m thankful my family helped me.”
Breding is third in the PRCA world standings with more than $105,000 won. Just nine days earlier, he won the bull riding title at the Cody Stampede with a career-high 92.5-point ride aboard Turnabout. The same bull had bucked him the previous night during the Xtreme Bulls event.
“He bucked me off pretty fast and hard the night before,” Breding said. “I was kind of sour after I knew I drew him again. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do different. Dad gave me a little talk and got me straightened out.
“That was a pretty big win. It’s one of my biggest checks. It meant a lot to get a win at a rodeo that I’ve been coming to for eight years.”
Breding is facing complete reconstructive surgery on his left knee, which would keep him out of competition for a full year.
With the money he has already won, Breding will most likely qualify for his fourth NFR and second in a row.
“It’s a pretty big business decision,” he said. “Ideally, I would like to participate in the NFR. I’d be down low in the world standings and a big long shot for a world title. But I would like to see those chances anyway.
“Or I could put a brace on it and try to ride some more. Would I do any more damage to it and how well would I ride?”
He does not have a PCL in either knee.
Sharp, a two-time PRCA world champion and the first to ride all 10 bulls at the NFR, reached out through social media and told Breding, “To get it fixed and take all the time you want to come back.”
Lostroh, a former PBR world champion, shared stories of bull riders who continued to ride with the same injury.
“I’m getting advice from all angles,” Breding said. “I just don’t know which one to take.”
Breding has qualified for the NFR in 2013, 2015 and 2018, where he finished a career-best fourth in the world standings. He is also a three-time winner of the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo.
And Breding has faced difficult decisions before.
In high school, he had to decide between playing with his Joliet High School basketball teammates at the state tournament or competing in the Northern Rodeo Association Finals for the year-end bull riding title.
And in 2015, he delayed meniscus surgeries on his left knee so he could continue bull riding and qualify for the NFR.
He plans to visit with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Guy Schmidt in Billings early next week to get more clarity on his final decision.
“I’ve maintained a decent mental frame of mind,” said Breding of the season-altering injury. “Not let myself spiral down in the dumps.
“Now I have to figure out what to do.”