From the June 2018 Issue
Growing up in Brisbane, Queensland, Montana Thurtell always wanted a horse.
“I worked as a kid mowing lawns and working at a bakery to save for my own horse,” she said. “And when I was 15 I had saved enough money and bought one!”
When she was a little older, Montana worked full time for a few cutting horse trainers.
“We had about 30 ridden horses a day plus all the mares, foals, and cattle outside we also had to look after,” she said. “I also used to work in cattle sale yards at night.”
Montana was at a Professional Bull Riders event in Australia when she met Troy Wilkinson, an accomplished bull rider.
“I didn’t want anything to do with a bull rider,” she said. “He chased me for six months over three years ago and here we are now getting married in October. Since we have been together, Troy has won a Pro Rodeo Australian title and also a PBR Australian title, and is currently the PBR Champion of Australia.”
Montana and Troy traveled together nearly every weekend for over three years. Montana attributes their busy travel schedule to knowing that Troy was “the one”.
“His determination and effort says a lot about him, and also our relationship. We travelled together nearly every weekend, either driving long distances or catching flights,” she said. “As a couple, we have probably traveled more in three years than most people will in their whole life.. and it’s all been for bull riding! You really know someone when you travel a lot and to add the stress of a professional sport, it’s easy to know if they are the one or not.”
Montana and Troy travel full-time for the PBR.
“It’s fun, adventurous, [and there’s] always something new, but it can also be tiring. We are in a different state, or different town almost every weekend but we don’t see much other than the highway, airports and PBR arenas,” she said. “We sometimes drive over 30 hours in under three days to make events. But every weekend it’s still the longest eight seconds with my heart in my throat every time Troy rides.”
A little over a year ago, Troy received a call from the PBR to compete in America.
“You only live once, so we booked our flight,” she said. “And we have both been in America and Australia a few times since then.”
Montana and Troy have met some amazing people through their PBR travels, and have life-long friends as a result.
“I have done photoshoots over here for some of the best western retail companies that support the PBR and we have also been to some places we never even thought of going,” she said.
Montana and Troy try to plan their travel schedule according to the tour stop they’re on, but there can be complications with that as well.
“It’s easy to plan your weekends when you know exactly what tour you are on with the PBR. But it gets really hard when you’re between both tours,” she said. “We have booked many flights and never got on them, lost our money and had to book new ones because we have had to change our plans last minute to make a different tour.”
Montana constantly travels with her passport and dry shampoo.
“Washing and doing my hair is so time consuming… so dry shampoo really helps me get through the weekend or long road trips,” she said.
Being away from Australia takes a toll on Montana, in some ways that you wouldn’t expect.
“Driving on the opposite side of the road and also on the other side of the car takes some getting used too,” she said. “We have been here heaps of times for months at a time and I still sometimes go to the wrong door of the car to drive.”
“Our friends and family are also all back home. And Australia has a 15 hour time difference to America. So it’s not just a quick phone call to say hello whenever you like,” she said. “You have to time it to make sure they are awake and they are home and not at work.”
Yet the thing Montana misses most is the food back home.
“Our food is always so fresh, clean, and actually good for you. It’s so easy to eat healthy back home even while traveling,” she said. “And also in Australia health care is free, which isn’t something everyone would think about, but when your partner competes in the most dangerous professional sport in the world, you might spend some time in hospitals.”
Montana Troy have plans to visit home in July, and plan to stay in Australia to visit after they get married in Australia in October.
Over the next few years, Montana has some goals of her own, including western fashion and horses.
“I really want to put Australia on the map for western fashion. Australia always seems to be behind the trends when it some to western fashion and I want us to start climbing,” she said.
“When you’re on tour and chasing the PBR road every weekend, you can’t have pets or animals. A very personal goal for me is to finally buy a horse again and start roping.”
UPDATE: Montana and Troy Wilkinson were married in October 2018 amongst their family and friends. AND, Montana got her horse! Her name is Maze.