CLAREMORE, Okla. – Caine Riddle wasn’t yet born when his dad, Rusty, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo for the final time.
That really doesn’t matter for the Vernon, Texas, cowboy; he’s still carrying on the family legacy quite well. On Sunday night, Riddle rode the Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Cat Ballou for 86 points to win the Will Rogers Stampede and $1,160.
“Yeah, this is the best year I’ve had to this point,” said Riddle, the 11th ranked bareback rider in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association standings. “I had about $1,000 won this time last year. This year I’ve hit a lick. Once you get a taste of winning, it makes you just try even harder. Once you get some big checks, it makes you want to take it a little more seriously.”
The money in Claremore will move Riddle’s 2011 earnings past $22,500. More importantly, it moves the cowboy ever closer to his first qualification to the NFR in Las Vegas.
“I don’t think there’s a better way to make a living than riding and spurring bucking horses,” he said. “The more experience you have, the better. I still learn stuff every day. I don’t take nothing for granted. It’s 150 percent effort every time.
“I try to stick to the basics, too. I think a lot of guys just get to thinking too much about it. If you just focus on your riding instead of where you are in the standings, you’ll do a lot better.”
It sounds like all those years of lessons have paid off. He has been around the sport all his life. In addition to his father, Riddle’s mother, Dollie, was born into the famed Beutler family, which has provided stock for and produced rodeos since 1929.
“Everybody knows my dad was a great bareback rider,” he said, noting that Rusty Riddle finished second in the world standings four times. “I don’t feel like have to prove anything. As long as I do the best that I can, I think I’ll be OK.”
He will. He’s still making a name for himself, but he’s doing it the right way. That’s just how Dean Gorsuch did when he broke out on the ProRodeo trail nine seasons ago. On Sunday, the two-time world champion from Gering, Neb., clinched the Will Rogers Stampede title for the first time in his career.
“It’s a good rodeo, but any rodeo you win is going to be a good rodeo,” said Gorsuch, a five-time NFR qualifier who is a regular fixture at the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. “It’s a good circuit rodeo. The circuit’s always important to me.”
A big reason is that his family can join him on the rodeo trail when he competes close to home. In Claremore, 6-year-old Taydon was on hand, and he’s joined by 2-year-old Trell and his wife, Bekah, when possible.
“The circuit’s a great place to start, too,” Gorsuch said. “You’ve got to start somewhere, and I like going to the circuit rodeos.”
Other 2011 Will Rogers Stampede champions are Trevor Brazile, all-around and steer roping; Brad Harrt, tie-down roping; Blake Hughes and Steve Orth, team roping; Carlee Pierce, barrel racing; and Trevor Kastner, bull riding.
Will Rogers Stampede
Trevor Brazile, $4,120, tie-down roping and steer and steer roping
1. Caine Riddle, 86 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Cat Ballou, $1,160; 2. Ty Breuer, 83, $879; 3. Matt Bright, 79, $632; 4. Bee Jay Scott and Bo Casper, 78, $334; 6. Tanner Aus, 72, $176.
1. Dean Gorsuch, 3.9 seconds, $1,661; 2. Ricky Riley, 4.2, $1,444; 3. Dru Melvin and Jacob Talley, 4.3, $1,119; 5. Brandon Volker, Zach Cobb and Trey Austin, 4.4, $578; 6. Chance Howard, 4.5, $144.
Saddle bronc riding
1. Jacobs Crawley, 80 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Spade, $1,458; 2. Cody Angland, 79, $1,104; 3. Doug Aldridge and Jeremiah Diffee, 77, $663; 5. Hardy Braden and Jordan Corrigan, 76, $265.
Tie down roping
1. Brad Hartt, 7.8 seconds, $1,825; 2. Trevor Brazile, 8.1, $1,511; 3. Stetson Aldridge, 8.3, $1,196; 4. Chris Neal, 8.5, $881; 5. Trent Creager and Cole Bailey, 8.7, $441.
1. Blake Hughes/Steve Orth, 5.2 seconds, $2,211; 2. Casper May/Derrick Peterson and Philip McCoy/Brandon Wright, 5.8, $1,862; 4. Troy Kitchener/Chad Mathes and Adam Newcomb/Chad Harper, 6.0, $1,397; 6. Nick Sartain/Kollin VonAhn, 6.1, $1,047; 7. Jimmy Tanner/Manny Egusquiza Jr., 6.2, $815; 8. Trey Robert Harmon/Braden Harmon, 6.3, $582; 9. Justin Turner/Ty Knott, Joshua Tores/Jonathan Torres and Keystone Morgan/Trevor Connolly, $155.
1. Carlee Pierce, 16.96, $1,731; 2. Mary Burger, 17.04, $1,483; 3. Shelley Morgan, 17.11, $1,236; 4. Kaley Bass, 17.12, $1,071; 5. Donna Findlay, Tracy Nowlin and Jessi Eagleberger, 17.28, $659; 8. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.29, $330; 9. Laura Kennedy, 17.30, $247; 10. Robyn Herring, 17.31, $165.
1. Trevor Kastner, 87 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Too Salty, $1,442; 2. L.J. Jenkins and Austin Ambrose, 82, $940; 4. Wade Payne, 80, $524; 5. Jeff Askey, 72, $306; 6. Rankin Lindsey, 69, $219.