THE SPANIARD is mean. Like really mean. So mean, in fact, bullfighters from other organizations voted to no longer use him at events, mostly because there were no other comparable fighting bulls. Drawing him was seen as a disadvantage.
Shorty Gorham saw it as an opportunity.
So he seized the moment and helped broker a deal between Evan Allard and Lights Out.
Like the PBR, where Gorham has spent more than a decade protecting cowboys at the elite televised PBR events, he wants his American Freestyle Bullfighting events to feature the rankest fighting bulls and the best bullfighters in the world.
In seven previous outs, Allard said, The Spaniard has hooked all seven bullfighters.
Again, he’s mean.
The Spaniard has a rare combination of speed and intensity that makes him better than other bulls. “When that gate opens he comes out going 90 miles an hour,” said Gorham, who then explained that unlike other bulls, The Spaniard also runs with his head up high.
The bullfighter never ever leaves his sight. He can see what the bullfighter is doing at all times, whereas fighting bulls with their head down cannot maneuver as fast. Or see where they’re going, which allows The Spaniard, who’s already known for his speed, to hit the corner and turn back to the bullfighter that much quicker than he already would have.
“Then you’re in his game,” Gorham said. “No matter how good you are, he’s going to push you out eventually.”
Typically, a bullfighter wants to either fake a fighting bull one way or make rounds with him. The Spaniard is so fast that if a bullfighter is able to fake him, eventually he gets to the inside of the turn and pushes the man out.
“Then he has control,” said Gorham, of his top prizefighter. “He’s so fast he’s going to gather you up.”
Gorham said that the first time The Spaniard competed.
“I was there,” Gorham recalled. “He was just so good that you went, ‘Holy shit. That was an amazing trip.’”
Gorham believes fighting bulls like The Spaniard are born. They’re not trained.
“He’s the kind of bull I want to have more of,” said Gorham, whose main intention in buying him is to use The Spaniard “as a herd sire” to build and sustain the Lights Out program. They plan to keep all the heifers and bull calves starting in January 2018. Gorham added, “He’s going to be the base of our breeding program.”
That said, The Spaniard is scheduled to make five appearances at Shorty Gorham’s American Freestyle Bullfighting event in 2018. But there’s one noticeable change. He was mean, but he was little and Lights Out put some on The Spaniard since purchasing him from Allard. “He’s going to be more intimidating than he used to be,” said Gorham, who laughed at the notion The Spaniard was already intimidating to being with.
“He’s so good, so mean, so fast, he takes a (bullfighter’s) game away from him,” continued Gorham, smiling, “I want to find more like him and inject that into our bloodline.”
22 PATRIOT had been a “really good bull to use” in the short round, but recently he was used in a few long rounds, where he’s gotten noticeably smarter when it comes to “stepping up his game” and hooked three bullfighters in a row at Shorty Gorham American Freestyle Bullfighting events.
He’s big, he’s strong and he’s damn sure mean.
Patriot is a solid 1,250 – 1,300 pounds, which is a good size for a six-and-a-half-year-old Mexican fighting bull. What makes him a hot bull to have is his “ambition to hit” bullfighters, but, more importantly, he’s experienced enough to have learned from each of his previous outings.
Patriot knows what to expect when the chute opens.
Bullfighters have learned to not even think about trying to head-fake him and Patriot has even adjusted to step-fakes, which is what led to the hooking he gave a trio of bullfighters in the latter part of 2017. Essentially he’s adapted to the “basic moves” that often work with other less mature fighting bulls.
He’s not the fastest bull in the pen, but he’s fast for his size and while guys have been able to get around him, one mistake and “he’s going to make you pay for it.” So while he’s much slower than a bull like White Feather, his intelligence and ability to adjust actually results in Patriot being on top of bullfighters that much quicker than other smaller, faster fighting bulls.
Gorham compared Patriot to a fighter pilot, saying he almost always locks in on bullfighters quicker than other bulls. Patriot, who is in the prime of his freestyle career for the next couple seasons, knows his target and he stays focused and remains locked in for the entire 40 seconds of hell.
“He’s figured it out and he’s ahead of the game,” said Gorham, who explained Patriot’s way of rationalizing the competition. “If (the bullfighter’s) here, I need to go over here because he’s going to end up over there.
“Patriot is big enough, scary enough and hits hard enough that you know it when he hits you.”
For those who are familiar with bucking bulls, Patriot is not a Pearl Harbor or Bruiser caliber bull. He’s the one most likely chosen by the rider with the first pick as opposed to a rider who is trying to make up points to win the event.
It’s a comparable situation at AFB events.
Patriot will be short rounds from time to time and likely set in the long round for special events, like the one at The (Beast) Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Gorham added, “He’s not going to disappoint either way.”
On a side note, Gorham originally wanted to name him 22 Kill in an effort to raise awareness of the 22 veterans a day, who take their own lives. Unfortunately, the popular bullfighter was afraid the name would be misinterpreted, “so that’s when I came up with Patriot.”
H52 WHITE FEATHER is “fast as hell” and if he were to hit you, you’d damn-sure know he made contact and yet Shorty Gorham said if he to choose between him and legendary bull The Spaniard, he would take White Feather for the win every time.
The difference between the two is that while The Spaniard runs with his head up, White Feather runs with his down and “blows right through the bullfighters.”
White Feather was out four times in 2017 and proved to be one of the most consistent bulls in Shorty Gorham’s American Freestyle Bullfighting. Guys were 90-plus with him or they got hooked.
“He’s going so fast when he hits you,” Gorham said, “he’ll go over you a little ways.”
Those two or even three full strides past the bullfighter, gives them a chance get back on their feet if they can keep their wits about them. Otherwise he’ll run right back over the top of bullfighter if doesn’t get to his feet quick enough. If he’s not on top of bullfighter, he’s bearing down on one.
Gorham still insists, “He’s one they’re going to win a lot of money with because of that.”
White Feather is favorite because he’s not afraid to stay engaged with bullfighters and because he’s going all out with his head looking at the dirt, bullfighters can more easily fake him one way and then step in the other direction.
“He’s a bigger bull than Spaniard,” Gorham said, “but he’s got the speed of The Spaniard”
“He’s going super-fast.”
But they better know where he is at all times because when he makes contact it’s vicious.
He’s also predicted to be a favorite among freestyle fans because whenever White Feather is in the draw, his outings are predicted to influence the outcome of the event. Bullfighters can make a name for themselves if they can hold their own with him
However, that is easier said than done.
“They better have their shit together,” said Gorham, with a laugh but he wasn’t joking.
White Feather is named after a legendary Marine Corps sniper, Carlos Norman Hathcock II, who had 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam. In the film Saving Private Ryan (1998), Private Daniel Jackson (played by Barry Pepper) shoots a German sniper through the latter’s rifle scope, an infamous story that gives a nod to Hathcock.
Among his numerous medals and honors, he received a Purple Heart and Silver Star. After the war, he helped establish the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School in Virginia.
Hathcock died in 1999 at the age of 56.
Hathcock was nicknamed White Feather by the enemy because, like many cowboys, he wore a white feather on his hat.
“Obviously that would be easy for another sniper to spot,” said Gorham, who read a biography – White feather: Carlos Hathcock USMC scout sniper: an authorized biographical memoir by Roy F. Chandler – and saw a documentary. “It was almost like he was taunting the enemy.”
Taunting the enemy?
Much like his counterpart, a badass Mexican fighting bull from Lights Out Fighting Bulls.
R.E.D. FRIDAY was out four times in 2017 and four times he hooked the bullfighter he was facing. Shorty Gorham hopes to have him out five times in 2018 and, according to the namesake of Shorty Gorham’s American Freestyle Bullfighting, he’s expecting five more bullfighters to get hooked.
Like Helter Skelter, Gorham said R.E.D. Friday is an eliminator type of fighting bull and one that bullfighters will likely try to stay away from if they’re a bull draft situation.
“The thing about him that makes him so good is that he’s going to engage,” said Gorham.
To be considered a great fighting bull, it has to maintain its intensity level, hook up with the bullfighter and stay with them for the entire 40 seconds.
R.E.D. Friday does that.
He’s not one to get distracted or drift away from his intended contact point. If a bullfighter is on his feet, R.E.D. Friday will engage him at all times.
In fact, Gorham said, “Eventually if he stays with you long enough and he pushes you hard enough, you’re going to make a mistake.”
The most common mistake is for guys to throw the fake too soon.
If a bullfighter doesn’t wait until the last second, R.E.D. Friday will stay right him and ultimately hook the bullfighter.
“He’ll read it and by the time you can fake and go one way, that bull is back in the middle of you,” said Gorham, who explained that R.E.D. Friday will drag his right hind leg and use it as a pivot point, which allows him to square up his shoulders “and then he just cuts you off when he cuts back in front of you.
“And he’s got you.”
To date, he’s done it to everyone he’s faced since Gorham bought him.
It’s an impressive feat.
In the event he does run by a bullfighter, he not especially fast and does not go near as far as other bulls before making he turn back. Within two or three strides he’s facing his opponent again, which gives bullfighters a feeling they experience when up against the much quicker Spaniard.
R.E.D. Friday is just quick in the turn without actually being fast that he keeps an unrelenting pressure on the bullfighter.
But he’s more savvy than most other hot Mexican fighting bulls that tend to go berserk. It’s as if this particular bull thinks like a human.
“If you do everything right, you can be a pile of points on him,” said Gorham, who plans to use him at five AFB events, in 2018, as well as using him as a herd sire alongside The Spaniard and Helter Skelter in a pasture with 100 cows, “but he’s probably going to whittle you down into making a mistake.”
96 MR. HARRIS is better known as the Ugly Duckling. Shorty Gorham never “thought anything of him.” In fact, when Lights Out purchased a trailer-load of Mexican fighting bulls, Mr. Harris wasn’t really part of the deal. Gorham had no interest in him and Mr. Harris was just an addition bull loaded on the trailer.
He was literally the ugliest bull in the trailer, according to Gorham. Curly hair. Gangly and long-legged. “Just ugly,” said Gorham, and nothing anyone looks for in a fighting bull. “He would have been the last bull that you would have picked out of the whole herd.”
Laughing, Gorham added, “You just never know.”
But once they owned him, they tried him.
Gorham said it’s not uncommon for fighting bull or a bucking bull to raise their foot up and rest on the rail about knee high. The first time he loaded Mr. Harris stuck one of his feet on the rail above his hip. Gorham pushed it down. Mr. Harris got his footing and then raised it back up above his hip.
“I thought, ‘holy shit,’” Gorham recalled. “I’ve never seen a bull be able to do that.”
Gorham left a loose flank on him and when the bullfighter nodded for him, Mr. Harris kicked out over his head like a bucking bull, made three rounds before the bullfighter was able to pick him up. After two more rounds, Mr. Harris hooked him.
That’s the best anyone has ever done with Mr. Harris.
“I don’t know anyone who has made it past 15 seconds on him,” Gorham said.
Mr. Harris has not only hooked every bullfighter he’s faced. He’s ended their fight. Not one of them has gotten back on the feet and wanted to reengage the bull. These are some of the toughest men in the world and Gorham said, “It’s uncommon. … They usually get up and go back at it.”
For an ugly bull that does not look like he’s doing much of anything, he’s been successful.
“I don’t know what he’s doing,” Gorham admitted. “I really don’t, but he has kicked everyone’s ass in spades and done it handily.”
Whatever he’s doing, he’s not fast and he’s not especially mean looking and certainly not intimidating. But, again, he’s ended every bullfighter’s night. In fact, he’s ended their weekend.
The smaller the area, the more dangerous he has proven to be.
“A majority of guys, who are trying to win, I don’t care who they are, they’re going to get hooked,” Gorham said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys get hooked by a Mexican fighting bull and a lot of them don’t seem to hurt the guys. I think it’s a combination of two things—those bulls aren’t huge animals — powerful, but not huge – plus the guys are extraordinarily tough.
“But this 96 bull, he’s been able to take it out of everybody that I’ve seen go against him. And they’re not sissies. I mean, good bullfighters and he’s ended their night—right away in the first 20 seconds.”
Gorham still sees an ugly duckling.
Then again, Mr. Harris has proven him wrong every single time he’s been loaded in the chute.
“I expect to fail every time,” Gorham joked, “and he just gets better.”