Ty Atchison carries a king-sized grin every place he goes. It gets even bigger when he’s in the rodeo arena because the Jackson, Mo., cowboy is having a whole lot of fun.
This season, Atchison has earned the right to play on the biggest stage in the sport, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, finishing the regular season as the 12th-ranked saddle bronc rider in the game. But get this: At 25 years old – he’ll be 26 in November – Atchison’s only been riding broncs for eight years.
“I grew up team roping, bulldogging, calf roping and all that stuff,” said Atchison, the winner of the inaugural Classic Events Championship, which features cowboys competing on steer roping and bronc riding and is held during the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo. “I started to get on broncs to win the all-around. At the time, bronc riding was the event that had the least amount of contestants, so I thought that might be my best chance to help me win the all-around.”
While at the University of Tennessee-Martin, Atchison was a four-year qualifier for the College National Finals Rodeo (once in steer wrestling, twice in team roping and three times in saddle bronc riding). He finished second in saddle bronc riding in 2006.
Still, qualifying for the NFR in bronc riding seemed a little farfetched for the cowboy from southeastern Missouri.
“Bronc riding has always been one of my favorite events, but when I was growing up and thought about making the NFR, It would’ve been in team roping or bulldogging, not bronc riding,” Atchison said.
He’s proven a lot of people wrong, even himself. But he’s a cowboy. I would expect nothing else.