The fallen cowboy rose up to run for cover when Luke Kraut hurdled over his head heading in the other direction.

Kraut had a job to do — help the rider get out of the Payson Event Center arena safely.

So, as Joseph McConnel got to his feet and made his way to the side after the only eight-second ride of the Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo, Kraut rushed in to assist his partner, Clifford Maxwell, in distracting the angry bull.

Blacksmith, the 2,000-pound beast from the Salt River Rodeo Company, was looking for someone to hurt.

Well, meet Kraut and Maxwell, two of the Southwest’s best bullfighters.

Blacksmith was now focused on Maxwell, whose yelling and taunting had managed to turn the bull’s attention from the fallen rider to him. And Kraut now stood behind the bull and tried to shift the creature’s focus once again.

But Maxwell was the lead man on this adventure and the Taylor veteran yelled at Blacksmith, who had turned toward the center of the arena. They needed him back in the chute and out of the arena.

The bull turned once again and faced the bullfighters and charged.

McConnel wound up near them and reached for the top of a gate and pulled himself up off the ground, a common move for anyone who finds himself in the arena in the path of a charging bull.

Fortunately, Blacksmith saw the open chute and decided he’d had enough and turned right and trotted off.

And so ended another night of rodeo in Payson.

It was just the last of eight bull rides for the night that Kraut and Maxwell worked. It was one of the more involved ones, but not the only one.

Earlier, Pistol Whip set his sights on John Mast with the Page cowboy laying in the dirt after a wreck.

The bull managed to get a horn under his vest and lift him off the ground before leaping over him much like Kraut would later do.

The two bullfighters did their jobs once again and the rider walked off under his own power and appeared to escape serious injury.

It’s all in a day’s work for these two. Don’t let the suspenders, colorful baggy clothing and face paint fool you, these guys are no clowns.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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