Ty Pozzobon was a heckuva bull rider.
Rodeo fans knew they were in for a real treat when he climbed on the back of one of the mean big bulls that wanted to slam him onto the area floor and try to stomp or gore him with their horns.
Man, that kid could ride!
He would be glued to that bull’s back like a fly caught on that sticky fly ribbon.
Ty was an exciting rider because he wasn’t just hanging on for a white-knuckled eight-second ride.
No, the Merritt cowboy was a performer and he worked those bulls for every point he could score.
“Pozzy as a person was what we all wanted to be; an amazing brother and someone giving of their time no matter the situation, and one heck of a bull rider!” says Quesnel bull rider Matt O’Flynn.
However, he’s gone now.
It was reported that Ty suffered from depression and anxiety and committed suicide on Jan. 9, 2017.
He was 25 years old.
Ty is remembered by his bull-riding buddies as not only a rising star, and also as a great all-around guy.
He was great with the bull-riding fraternity, the fans, and people he met.
Steve Hohmann, another long-time bull rider, also speaks highly of Ty.
“Ty was really a pleasure to be around and it was always exciting to watch him ride.
“I didn’t see him much in the last couple years since he went pro, but whenever our paths crossed he would make a point of shaking my hand and ask how things were going.
“I was looking forward to watching him win the world championship one day.”
Helping out was in Ty’s genes and he would help anyone who needed it.
Even in his passing, Ty is helping people.
His family donated his brain to the University of Washington School of Medicine Neuropathology Core, a medical research group that works on traumatic brain injuries and concussions.
Neurologists determined Ty had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a progressive degenerative brain disease found in people who have a history of repetitive brain trauma.
It occurs in football, boxing and other contact sports, but this was the first known case of a professional bull rider having CTE.
Ty’s brain is helping researchers understand more about the affects of repeated concussions and his friends are spreading the word to rodeo athletes.
With the blessing and support of Ty’s family, the Ty Pozzobon Foundation roots were planted. It has been incorporated both in the United States and Canada. The foundation is well on its way, functioning with a board and a mission statement to forever honour Ty’s legacy.
The foundation’s mission statement is to protect the health and well-being of rodeo competitors inside and outside the arena.
The Foundation’s objectives are:
• to educate rodeo and bull riding athletes, administrators, medical professionals and the general public of the nature of concussions and the importance of prevention, including what concussions are, how concussions occur, how to recognize signs and symptoms of concussion and best practices for care and management once concussion occurs;
• to promote health and safety by establishing and implementing clinical care pathways to diagnosing and managing concussions, including tracking those diagnosed with concussion and sharing information among health-care professionals to increase the likelihood of a successful return to normal activities;
• to establish and implement concussion protocols, policies, guidelines and action plans that will promote proper safety, care and procedures for individuals participating in the sport of rodeo with an emphasis on bull riding;
• to facilitate and promote access for rodeo and bull riding athletes to health and sports medicine professionals and services, including baseline evaluations and assessments, post-concussion clinical services and monitored return to play programs;
• to provide funding for scientific research carried on by qualified donees in the area of concussions and other brain-related injuries associated with sports in Canada, particularly bull riding;
• to promote health and well-being including overall mental health awareness by providing individuals participating in the sport of rodeo with access to counselling, health and medical related information and resources, support programs and medical services;
• to donate funds, from time to time, to qualified donees as defined in subsection 149.1(1) of the Income Tax Act (Canada), as determined by the Board of Directors.
It’s plain to see Ty will continue supporting the sport he loved and the ensure bull riders are watched when they are rocked, bumped around and slammed to the ground.
“Ty was as talented as a bull rider as any Canadian we have had in the last decade in and out of the arena and could compete with anyone.
“He could ride rank bulls as well as he understood how to reach the fans and take care of sponsors.
“He always had a smile on his face and was loved by everyone he met. He was a true superstar and he will be missed.”