With his glittering winner's buckle and blue-ribbon sash, Nathan Burtenshaw is every inch the bull riding champion of the 2017 Mount Isa rodeo.
But just last year, a broken back kept the 23-year-old from competing in the western Queensland event.
The Coonamble local sustained the injury when he was jumped on by a bull during a rodeo in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in June.
"I broke one vertebrae straight through, it was pretty bad," he tells AAP.
"But I'm all healed up now and pretty good to go."
So much so, the full-time rodeo competitor has managed to make tens of thousands of dollars in the past fortnight alone.
While Burtenshaw walked away from Sunday's final open bull ride largely unscathed and up $4000, fellow competitor Ben Thorp wasn't so lucky.
He sustained a nasty blow to the face from his bull's horns and required the urgent attention of paramedics.
Burtenshaw says it is hard to see friends get injured but taking that risk is part of the sport.
"It's a bit daunting sometimes coming back after injury but it's just something you got to do," he says.
"But my dad says, you play the game, you take the pain."
He's not sure if he'll be back from the US in time for the Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo's 60th Diamond Jubilee, which is slated to run from August 9 to August 12 next year.
The event runs for three days and combined crowd totals for this year's first two days outstripped 2016's record.