SAN ANGELO, Texas – In his first three years of competing inside Foster Communications Coliseum, Jess Pope hasn’t had much luck at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo.
That changed this year. He rode Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Painted River for 87 points to move into a tie for the bareback riding lead during Sunday afternoon’s fourth performance of this west Texas event. He shares the top spot with 2019 world titlist Clayton Biglow, who competed Friday night.
“This is the first time I’ve ever done any good at San Angelo,” said Pope, the reigning world champion from Waverly, Kansas. “I’m looking forward to hopefully coming back to the short round (set for Friday, April 14). I’ve never drawn the right horses to get back to the short round, but I know that eventually they’ve got to run a good one under you.”
Painted River is a second-generation National Finals Rodeo bucking horse. The 14-year-old mare’s mother is Riverboat Annie, a prolific red roan bucking horse that has become the cornerstone of the Carr breeding program; Painted River’s sire is Korczak, a paint stud that has bucked in both bareback riding and saddle bronc riding in Las Vegas.
“I knew that (Cole) Franks had gotten on that horse last fall in Hempstead (Texas), and he had a lot of luck on it,” said Pope, who has qualified for the last three NFRs and won the average title each year he’s been there. “It’s one that they win on quite a bit, so I was excited to get on it.”
Painted River has been a workhorse in San Angelo. In 2017, Chad Rutherford spurred her for 91.5 points to win the final round and the aggregate championship. In 2020, Biglow rode her for 89 points in the championship round to claim the top prize.
It was the right kind of match-up for Pope, who needs as many dollars as he can get. He sits 46th in the world standings, and all of his earnings came from a successful run at Houston a few weeks ago. That came after he made some equipment changes to help with some neck issues he has struggled with through the winter run of rodeos.
“I’ve changed a lot of everyday stuff and some habits I’ve had,” Pope said. “I got a new neck-roll and got a new vest, and that seems to help. I’ve got some ligaments in my neck that are inflamed, and they’re a lot like callouses. I’ve got some discs that are pushing into my spinal canal, making my nerves to shut down.
“I haven’t really missed anything, but it really affected my performances at Fort Worth and San Antonio. My arm just went numb, so I knew I needed to do something about it.”
Bareback riding is the most physically demanding event in rodeo, and cowboys wear thick pads around their necks to help protect them from the jarring their bodies take on just about every ride. Neck, shoulder and elbow injuries are the most common in the event. Pope is changing some exercises and routines he does even when he’s not on the rodeo trail to make sure he’s in the best shape possible to compete at an elite level.
Doing well in San Angelo is proof that things are working and that he’s on the right path to repeat.
“That ride makes me feel good,” Pope said. “I’ve had a couple weeks off since Houston, so I got to go home and take care of cattle and handling things around home. Being able to ride good and get on good horses boosts your confidence makes you realize you know how to do things when the winter has been as slow as it has for me.
“The committee in San Angelo does a good job of getting people in their seats. It’s the closes thing to the NFR that we see all year with the electricity and having people right there on top of you making a lot of noise. It makes you want to do good for them, and it helps a lot in getting your motor running and getting amped up to compete.”
He plans to return in just two weeks to see what it might be like to win the San Angelo title.
San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo
March 31-April 14
Bareback riding leaders: 1. Jess Pope, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Painted River, and Clayton Biglow, on Macza Pro Rodeo’s Stevie Knicks, 87 points; 3. Richmond Champion, 84.5; 4. R.C. Landingham, 84; 5. Ty Pope, 83.5; 6. (tie) Kade Sonnier and A.J. Ruth, 83; 8. Gauge McBride, 82; 9. Chad Rutherford, 81.5; 10. (tie) Will Lowe, Kash Martin, Yance Day and Kaleb Norstrom, 80.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Dakota Eldridge, 3.4 seconds; 2. Will Lummus, 3.5; 3. Jay Williamson, 3.7; 4. (tie) Eli Lord, Logan Kenline and Denard Butler, 3.8; 7. Wade Steffen, 4.0; 8. (tie) Jesse Brown, Kyle Irwin and Grant Peterson, 4.1. Second round leaders: 1. (tie) Justin Shaffer and Cody Devers, 3.5 seconds; 3. (tie) Tanner Milan and Brandon Harrison, 3.8; 5. Stan Branco, 3.9; 6. (tie) Tucker Allen, Joe Nelson and Talon Roseland, 4.1. Average leaders: 1. (tie) Cody Devers, Will Lummus and Eli Lord, 8.2 seconds on two runs; 4. Jesse Brown, 8.3; 5. Jay Williamson, 8.4; 6. Talon Roseland, 8.5; 7. Mason Couch, 8.8; 8. Curtis Cassidy, 9.0; 9. Stephen Culling, 9.1; 10. Boyd Sawyer, 9.3; 11. Bridger Anderson, 9.6; 12. Tucker Allen, 9.7.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. J.C. Yeahquo/L.J. Yeahquo, 3.9 seconds; 2. Cyle Denison/Cody Hogan, 4.0; 3. (tie) McCray Profili/McCoy Profili and Bubba Buckaloo/Riley Wakefield, 4.3; 5. (tie) Ty Arnold/Kaden Profili, Clint Keller/Morgan Jones and Korbin Rice/Jake South, 4.4; 8. (tie) Tanner Green/Caleb Green and Garrett Tonozzi/Corey Hendrick, 4.5. Second round leaders: 1. (tie) Coy Brittain/Colton Brittain and Billy Bob Brown/Kirby Blankenship, 4.0 seconds; 3. Garett Chick/B.J. Dugger, 4.1; 4. (tie) Tanner Green/Caleb Green and Reno Stoebner/Whit Kitchens, 4.2; 6. Ty Arnold/Kaden Michael Profili, 4.4; 7. J.C. Yeahquo/L.J. Yeahquo, 4.5; 8. Keeper Parker/Cole Rogers, 4.6. Average leaders: 1. J.C. Yeahquo/L.J. Yeahquo, 8.4 seconds on two runs; 2. Tanner Green/Caleb Green, 8.7; 3. Ty Arnold/Kaden Michael Profili, 8.8; 4. Garrett Tonozzi/Corey Hendrick, 9.5; 5. Tanner James/Jason Johe, 9.6; 6. (tie) McCray Profili/McCoy Profili and Chris Francis/Cade Passig, 9.7; 8. Jase Staudt/Jhett Trenary; 9.8; 9. Korbin Rice/Jake South, 9.9; 10. (tie) Kreece Thompson/Landen Glenn and Kellen Johnson/Carson Johnson, 10.2; 12. Andrew Livingston/Seth Smithson.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Brody Cress, 87.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Spotted Charm; 2. Cash Wilson, 84; 3. (tie) Ryder Wright and Statler Wright, 83.5; 5. (tie) Wade Sundell, Ross Griffin and Brandon Lansford, 83; 8. Kai Rockhil, Lucas Macza and Damian Brennan, 82.5; 11. Gus Gaillard, 82; 12. Ira Dickinson, 81.5.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. (tie) Brush Minton, Hayden Ford and Chase Webster, 7.6 seconds; 4. (tie) Blake Ash, Roan Hudson and Ryan Jarrett, 8.1; 7. Cory Rowland, 8.3; 8. (tie) Austin Thomas Hines, Justin Smith and Sy Felton, 8.4. Second round leaders: 1. Justin Smith, 6.9 seconds, 2. J.T. Adamson, 7.2; 3. (tie) Cory Solomon and Preston Pederson, 7.4; 5. (tie) Cory Solomon and Trenton Smith, 7.6; 7. (tie) Cimarron Boardman and Beau Cooper, 7.7Average leaders: 1. Justin Smith, 15.3 seconds on two runs; 2. J.T. Adamson, 15.8; 3. Brush Minton, 16.6; 4. Hayden Ford, 16.7; 5. Cody Waldrop, 16.8; 6. (tie) Westyn Hughes and Chase Webster, 17.0; 8. Beau Cooper, 17.1; 9. (tie) Chantz Webster and Taylor Santos, 17.6; 11. Charlie Gibson, 17.7; 12. (tie) Cimarron Boardman and Blake Ash, 17.8.
Barrel racing: Second round leaders: 1. Wenda Johnson, 14.23 seconds; 2. Kaycee Killingsworth, 14.25; 3. Nicole Love, 14.27; 4. Rachelle Riggers, 14.28; 5. Shannon Griffin, 14.34; 6. Taycie Matthews, 14.37; 7. Kara Kreder, 14.42; 8. (tie) Reagan Goudeau and Lauryn Moos, 14.48; 10. Dina Allred, 14.49. Average leaders: 1. Taycie Matthews, 30.20 seconds on two runs; 2. Wenda Johnson, 30.51; 3. Rachelle Riggers, 30.59; 4. Shannon Griffin, 30.65; 5. Kaycee Killingsworth, 30.77; 6. Keyla Costa, 30.81; 7. Nicole Love, 30.87; 8. Karsen Jackson, 30.88; 9. Kailee Murdock, 30.91; 10. (tie) Lauryn Moos and Jamie Olsen, 30.95; 12. Kara Kreder, 30.96.
Bull riding leaders: 1. Koby Radley, 86 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Happy Days; 2. (tie) Jax Woodward and J.C. Mortensen, 85.5; 4. Colby Demo, 83.5; 5. Trey Kimzey, 81.5; 6. (tie) Levi Schonebaum and Coby Jonson, 77; no other qualified rides.