Florida’s Clayton Sellars has his eye on a bull riding world championship

Fruitland Park native riding high 8 seconds at a time

This week on Florida’s Fourth Estate, Matt Austin and Ginger Gadsden talk to pro bull rider Clayton Sellars.

Florida is known for having a wild side.

There are endless stories about alligators, pythons and manatees. Now you can add something else to the list: bull riding.

This week on Florida’s Fourth Estate, Matt Austin and Ginger Gadsden talk to pro bull rider Clayton Sellars.

The young man from Fruitland Park has made quite a name for himself in the professional bull riding world.

The first thing you notice about Clayton Sellars is that hat. It screams cowboy in the best way possible.

As soon as he starts to talk, he has a quick smile and you can’t help but notice that friendly mega-watt, Hollywood smile.

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That’s just the surface for this cowboy who has deep roots in Florida and bull riding.

He’s young but Sellars has been working hard to put some respect on his name and the sport.

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You don’t get ranked in the top 25 right out of the gate.

At just 24 years old, Sellars has been sitting in the saddle since he was 7.

That’s how old he was when he rode his first sheep or mutton bustin’ as it’s called.

He said from the first time he hopped on to ride he had the bug for bull riding.

“It’s a fun event,” Sellars said. “Everybody loves watching it but as a kid, you’re a superstar out there. Riding that sheep across the arena and the crowd is screaming, people pick you up and you wave at the crowd. That’s where I started and from there you get on calves, bulls and steers.”

We wanted to know how a kid from Fruitland Park even gets started in this sport.

“There are quite a bit of rodeo athletes in the state of Florida and just cowboys in general,” Sellars said. “That’s how I got my start. My family’s cowboys and ranchers and I grew up riding horses, working cows just being around the sport and being around the cowboy lifestyle. That just kind of evolved into riding bulls and calves when I was young, and I started getting better and better and I ended up getting a rodeo scholarship to go to college and from there I got very serious about it and it just kind of carried into my pro career.”

Right now, Sellars is riding for a new team in the league, Missouri Thunder.

The goal right now is to produce a winning record and hopefully win the championship.

Sellars has done a lot of riding, but we wanted to know about his first time on a bull.

“Going back to the first time, it was obviously pretty scary back then,” he said. “I really didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what I was doing or how to do it. I was just doing it because it was cool and I thought I was a cowboy kid; thought I was tough. It’s funny looking back now how blurry and confusing it used to be to how clear and easy it is now.”

Sellars said his first ride was rough.

“The first big bull I got on, he bucked me off very quick and he stepped on the side of my head, and it cut my head from here all the way clear back,” he said as he motioned from his ear to the back of his head. “I thought ‘Golly, this is going to be a long career.’”

Sellars brushed himself off, got stitched up and got back to riding. He said right before he turned pro, he was just getting on and riding a lot of bulls.

“That was the only way to get better was to do it a lot,” Sellars said. “You can work out all you want; you can get as big and muscly as you want but that’s not going to help you in this game.”

Staying healthy in the game does require consistent and specialized workouts.

“Now my workouts are very special, a lot of mobility, lots of body weight stuff, flexibility, stretches. Nothing that’s going to make me big and heavy but something that’s going to keep me strong and light and limber because you really gotta bend and not break in this game.

Eight whole seconds of bending and not breaking is what keeps Sellars in the win column.

When asked if he is superstitious when it comes to competing, Sellars said he’s not, but he does have a routine.

“I get ready the same way every time,” he said. “Not exact but I hit the same checkpoints throughout the day. When it comes down to it and you’re in the buck and shoot and it comes down to those final seconds just before the gate opens, you know there’s not a lot that can explain that. Things are moving fast but your mind is clear, you’re there, you’re present, you’re thinking hardly anything at all. If any thoughts do come to my mind, it’s like whatever it takes, let’s get after this thing.”

Giddy up!

If you would like to hear more from this Florida cowboy and hear the advice he had for Matt on his one and only bull ride, click on the link for Florida’s Fourth Estate.

You can also watch Florida’s Fourth Estate anytime on News 6+.

About the Author:

Ginger Gadsden joined the News 6 team in June 2014 as an anchor/reporter. She currently co-anchors the 4 p.m. 5:30 p.m. and the 7 p.m. newscasts.