Rutherford is at home at the NFR

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Chad Rutherford rides J Bar J's Yum Bugs for 85.5 point to place in Tuesday's sixth round of the National Finals Rodeo. (PHOTO BY JAMES PHIFER)

ARLINGTON, Texas – The first time Chad Rutherford rode J Bar J Rodeo’s Yum Bugs, he got just a taste of what the bucking horse could be.

“I just got on her in Darby (Montana) at the Riggin’ Ralley in the first round, and she fell on me,” said Rutherford, a bareback rider from Hillsboro, Texas, making his first appearance at the National Finals Rodeo, and it just happens to be an hour from his house at Globe Life Field in Arlington. “I was still 84 points on her, even with her falling. I got on a re-ride horse, and that horse earned me a lot of money that got me here.”

On Tuesday night, he and Yum Bugs matched moves for 85.5 points to finish in a tie for fifth place, worth $5,500.

Chad Rutherford
Chad Rutherford

“I figured if I got her picked up today,” he said, referring to a spurring procedure that helps a horse buck a little harder, “she would be outstanding, and she was.

“Both times I’ve been on her, she has been outstanding, and that’s all you can really say about her. She gets a lot of air underneath her, a lot of kick and a lot of stuff going on with her. She is real flashy and showy, and I just do what I’ve got to do.”

With that, he pushed his season earnings to $77,874, with more than half coming at the NFR. He’s placed in three rounds and pocketed $40,462. Better yet, he still has four more nights to cash in.

“We’re just going to go to the next jump,” Rutherford said, referring to each ride in a very specific way he handles each ride and each day. “After that, we are just going to go to the next jump after that. I’m not going to look ahead at the next few rounds, the average or any of that. I’m just looking for the next jump. That’s all that matters at this point.”

His routine is quite different than most bareback riders in this field that stay in the Arlington area to spend their days before competing each night. He and his family travel home to tend to things there.

“For us, we try to get to bed as soon as we can and get some rest,” he said. “As soon as the sun comes up every morning, we are heading down the road to take care of our animals in the morning, then I’m in the gym for about an hour or so, just working out some soreness from the previous night and get some blood flowing for the night coming.

“This is in our back yard, so it’s an everyday deal for me, except I get on a bucking horse at the end of the day at the NFR.”


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