In his bestselling book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell championed the 10,000-Hour Rule, a principal in which it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become world class in any field.


For a bullfighter to step in front of 10,000 head of cattle would go a hell of a long way toward becoming a world class cattleman. Former AFB world champion Cade Gibson worked an estimated 17,000 head of cattle at a sale barn on Monday night in Joplin, Missouri. 


Again, 17,000 in one day. 


Gibson recently relocated to Missouri and has been relentlessly working cattle on Mondays and Wednesdays. Joplin is the second largest sale in the country, surpassed only by Oklahoma City. 


He and the other ranch hands are expected to work another 8,000 head of cattle on Wednesday, which will put him at 25,000 head for the week, before he leaves for Chicago on Friday morning for the first of Shorty Gorham’s American Freestyle Bullfighting events this season. 


Those are beef cattle at the sale barn and not purebred Mexican fighting bulls, but, never mind, being thought of as world class—he doesn’t—that kind of work goes a long way toward getting better at reading cattle. 


“If you’re not perfecting your craft each and every day,” Gibson said, “you’re losing it.”


He added, “When you back a mama cow up or a yearling in a corner, their instinct’s going to be to come on. It’s been pretty fun. It’s something I love to be around to begin with, so it (doesn’t) bother me at all.”


Gibson likes the work.


He loves bullfighting even more, and Thursday night he’ll be joined by Sage Seay and Dekevis Jordan. Gibson said they’re planning to have dinner together and “then rock and roll Friday morning” when all three will head out for the nine-hour drive to Chicago, where the trio will compete Saturday night.


The first AFB event of the 2020 season will be held in conjunction with the PBR event at Allstate Arena.


It can be seen live on beginning at 7 p.m. CT and then archived online beginning at 8 a.m. CT the following day. A highlight package from Saturday’s AFB event will also be shown Sunday during the CBS Sports Network broadcast of the PBR beginning at 7 p.m. CT. 


Much like a year ago, if Gibson hopes to win a second AFB title, he needs to amass as many points and money as possible between now and May when his PRCA and PBR schedule picks up with cowboy protection. 


The one difference between 2019 and 2020 is he can plan for it this year.


A year ago, he earned more protection events than he had expected. 


“I pulled a check almost everywhere I went,” said Gibson, who’s been fighting bulls professionally for just three years. “I’ve come this far in a short amount of time.”


Speaking of timing, the off-season is a thing of the past and the AFB will announce more 2020 events in the coming days and weeks. 


“It goes by in a hurry,” Gibson concluded. “It seems to get faster the older I get. I learned time gets more precious. You learn to cherish time. It goes by in a hurry, especially when you’re having fun doing what you love.”