Bucking the trend

Bucking the trend

Bobby Mote was still at his ranch in Stephenville, Texas, and already his appearance in the Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo had taken a turn for the better.

The world's all-time winningest bareback rider drew a favorable horse for his return to the Jackson County Expo and the three-day event that will feature more than 250 cowboys vying for prize money in seven disciplines each night.

Doors open at 6 tonight and Friday and at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The action starts at 7 each night.

Mote, who is from Culver and returns home to Oregon each summer, is one of the sport's superstars.

He has won four world championships and took over the earnings record for bareback riders when he passed Clint Corey in 2011.

Mote has twice won at the Central Point rodeo, in 2006, when he was second in the world rankings, and in 2009, when he claimed his third world title. He has earned nearly $2.3 million in a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association career that began in 1996.

That figure could increase this week for Mote, who will compete Saturday in his specialty and in team roping, which he took up late in his career.

Mote will ride Short Fuse, a horse who, as his name implies, should provide a ride of amusement-park quality. The cowboy's task is to stay on the bucking horse for eight seconds.

"The horse has a lot to say about the points you get," says Mote. "He's a really good horse. I'm looking forward to it."

In this case, rider and horse have a relationship. Mote rode Short Fuse to a tie for second place in the National Finals Rodeo in December.

Mote, who will turn 37 on Monday, has been around long enough that there aren't many horses he hasn't ridden. He likened it to drawing cards: The more times you draw, the more chances you have of getting the same card.

And with horses, there is luck in the draw.

"There are certainly horses you want to draw a lot," says Mote, "and there are others you'd just as soon not draw again. I'll always be happy to draw this horse."

A victory would be a nice birthday present.

Mote admits he's a bit long in the tooth, but it's hardly been a hindrance.

"The majority of the guys in my event are in their early 20s," he says. He understands why some would consider him old for rodeoing, "But I sure don't feel that way and it doesn't seem that way. It's easier for me to win now than when I was in my 20s."

He credits "experience and confidence."

Mote ranks third this year in the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour standings with $20,815 for bareback riding.

He won outright at the Ram National Circuit Finals in Oklahoma City and earned co-championships at the Sand Hills Stock Show and Rodeo in Odessa, Texas, and at the Austin, Texas, rodeo.

At Oklahoma City, Mote nearly didn't stick around. He didn't think his first two rounds would advance him to the semifinals, and his wife, Kate, talked him out of returning home.

Sure enough, he was accorded the eighth and final semifinal spot and parlayed that into victory.

Jason Mattox, a former professional bull rider for 13 years from Roseburg, serves on the Wild Rogue committee and is a fan of Mote's.

Paying homage to Mote's longevity, Mattox says, "He's seen the good and the bad of the sport. He's probably one of the most consistent guys going. He's one of the good guys in rodeo. A lot of the young guys coming up look up to that guy."

In perhaps the ultimate cowboy compliment, Mattox says, "He's just a hand," meaning Mote is good at just about anything he tries.

It hasn't been without hazards.

Mote, who at 6-foot is big for a bareback rider, suffered a lacerated pancreas in 2011 and a broken collarbone and dislocated shoulder in 2003. This year, he's rebounded from a pinched nerve in his neck.

Bareback riding might the roughest of the roughstock events, says Mattox, referring also to bull riding and saddle-bronc riding.

That's saying something coming from a former bull rider.

"Everyone says bull riding is pretty tough," says Mattox, "but in bareback, you're pretty much holding on to a suitcase handle on a horse that's bucking you across the arena. Your neck's flopping, your back's flopping. There's a lot of wear and tear on the body. You're laying flat on your back while the horse is kicking into you, and you're taking all that whipping, plus the toll it takes on your arm just to hang on."

Mote credits the fact that he's healthy and in good shape for his success.

In bull riding, he says, the possibility of getting seriously injured is greater.

But in bareback, even when "everything goes right and you don't wreck, it's still hard on the body," says Mote. "If you take care of yourself and have a good riding style, that makes a big difference."

Mote likes to keep busy. He was in six rodeos in a two-week stretch in April and competed in Redding, Calif., on May 18. He has upcoming events in Union, Sisters and Livermore, Calif.

"You're almost better off doing it a lot, every day or every couple of days," he says. "I'm in good shape and work out all the time. It's kind of like being in fighting shape. It's easier for me to get on often rather than not."

Mote has been coming to Central Point pretty much every year since the late 1990s.

The three-decade-old event is among the best in the Northwest and ranks high on his priority list.

"It's a neat rodeo," says Mote. "The first thing that stands out is how the community supports it. I've never been to a performance where it wasn't packed all the time. There hasn't even been a time where it was three-quarters full. It's always packed and the people love it.

"I go to rodeos all across America, and there aren't that many places that have that kind of support. I'm looking forward to it."

And if all goes well, he'll have a long ride on Short Fuse.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email

Share This Story