Chelsie Hightower and Ty Murray
After scoring a 14 on the first week of Dancing with the Stars, rodeo star (and Jewel's husband) Ty Murray didn't seem like he'll be long for the show. But like any good bull rider, he's holding on for as long as he can. "I think the nature of being a bull rider and being a cowboy is you don't give up that easily," Murray tells TVGuide.com. "It's still really hard for me, but we just keep trying to put in the work." Murray and his partner, Chelsie Hightower, have the Lindy Hop next — a new dance on the show — and took time out to chat about their progress and why Hightower may join Murray and Jewel on the farm one day.
TVGuide.com: How's the Lindy Hop going?
Ty Murray: It's tough. I thought I was sore and tired up to this point, but this dance so far is the hardest physically. There are a lot of lifts and me flipping her over my head. I have a really sore back right now. [There's] a move where she comes through my legs head first, so I went to reposition my foot and stepped on her hair and pulled a handful of hair out of her head! [Laughs] But she's tough as nails.
Chelsie Hightower: I had a ton of hair pulled out! I was also dropped on my head twice. I fell on my back twice, once with my mic pack on, Steve-O-style. I grew up with five brothers, so I was constantly thrown around and beat up a lot, so this is OK. But Ty hurt his shoulder a little bit, so that's payback.
TVGuide.com: Are you more worried because it's a new dance for the pros?
Hightower: I'm not worried. I've just been learning from the Internet. It's been an interesting start, so if it comes out a success, I will be super-proud of myself!
TVGuide.com: Ty, you're hosting your bull-riding invitational in Albuquerque. How's that going to affect rehearsals?
Murray: I don't think it will. We have a studio booked in Albuquerque. It has my name on the event. This is our 13th year having it, so I'd feel like a rat if I didn't go. We're moving into a new bigger, better venue, so I want to check it all out.
TVGuide.com: You guys have been the surprise of the season. You've been called "most improved" since the first week and fans are really rooting for you now. How does that feel?
Hightower: It's definitely a big step. It's cool to be able to beat the limits and help take Ty to that kind of level in a short amount of time. To see the reaction of everyone and the judges, it's fun.
TVGuide.com: Gilles Marini was worried about his lack of a built-in fan base. Were you too, not being a household name?
Murray: I don't know. I'm just trying to do the best job I can and I figure the voting will take care of itself. I'm not really one to campaign. That embarrasses me and I don't think that's how you ought to do it. If people like you, they'll vote for you. I feel like the cowboy, rodeo and bull-riding community are really behind me and that's probably a bigger fan base than people think. I really appreciate the fans. Obviously, the first week, I bombed. [Laughs] But it was the fans who got us to stick around this far.
TVGuide.com: Did the show approach you and Jewel together, or one of you first?
Murray: They approached me three seasons ago, but I didn't do it. They came to me and Jewel last season, [but] Jewel had a big tour with Brad Paisley. They came back to us this season. We thought it'd be a unique opportunity to do something as husband and wife. From my standpoint, it brings unbelievable recognition to cowboys and my sport.
TVGuide.com: Why didn't you do it three seasons ago?
Murray: Um, I don't know. I didn't really know much about it. And when you haven't heard of something, you're like, "No." After that, I looked into it and I saw the guys who've done the show — Jason Taylor, Emmitt Smith — and saw they got some really top-notch athletes from different sports. I guess that was that.
TVGuide.com: How's Jewel doing?
Murray: She's doing a little bit better. She'll probably be on crutches for another three weeks. Now it's a matter of staying off of it so it can heal.
TVGuide.com: Chelsie, this is your first season. What's surprised you about it?
Hightower: Just the scheduling is really overwhelming. We were just talking about this. You know, we wake up, do press, do practice, do more press. I feel like I don't stop for my friends. I don't talk to my mom even! But it's cool because you know it's going to pay off. It's not something where you wake up and go, "Oh crap! I've got to practice again." It feels good to work.
TVGuide.com: The judges have said you've been stiff, Ty, which was OK for the past two dances, but how are you going to loosen up for the Latin ones?
Murray: Well, there's not, like, a secret shortcut. Believe me, if there was, I would've taken it. I'm just going to get in there and focus on it and do what she tells me.
Hightower: I think the more he gets the feeling of the dances, the easier it's going to come. In the beginning, he, like, barely moved any body part!
TVGuide.com: How close are you to the rest of the cast?
Murray: We get along really well. We have lunch a lot. Actually Chelsie comes to dinner with me and Jewel a lot. Me and Jewel are gonna adopt her as our kid. [Laughs] She's a great kid. She's the type of person where you're around her, you think, if I have a daughter, I want my daughter to be like that. You can tell how she got to be such a great dancer at such a young age because she doesn't get distracted.
Hightower: We've talked about this many times! The only downfall is that I have to wake up at 7 and I have to feed the cows and I don't know if I can do that!
TVGuide.com: I know it's more about bull-fighting, but would you incorporate something from bull-riding in your paso doble costumes?
Hightower: We'll see about that one. We'll add in the cowboy get-up somewhere!