Sweetheart of the Rodeo

At 29, Ty Murray is the king of the cowboys — a matinee idol of the mythic west. But he’d trade it all for the perfect ride.

GET YOUR ASS ON,” TY MURRAY SAYS, pointing to the mechanical bull in his large work shed.

Absolutely no way,” I reply.

Come on, city boy. You said you wanted to understand what I do.”

The finest rodeo cowboy in America—perhaps the greatest rider of bulls and bucking horses of all time—gives me a sly little grin, and the corners of his lips twitch upward. Although he is 29 years old, he could still pass for a teenager. He is only five foot eight and 160 pounds. His face is so baby-smooth that you’d think he never has to shave. When he pulls the brim of his hat over his forehead, he looks like James Dean in Giant. He talks like him too: in a clipped monotone, his voice as flat as a fence post.

I want to see you bear down on that sumbitch,” he says, his grin getting wider. “I want to see you ride.

It’s a spring afternoon in north-central Texas, a few miles south of the town of Stephenville, where Murray owns a breathtakingly beautiful 1,861-acre ranch. More than two hundred head of brindle cattle graze on perfect pastures that slope down toward the Bosque

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