GOODING, Idaho – It’s hard to follow in the footsteps of greatness, but Ty Pope is making an effort to do so as he travels the rodeo trail with his big brother, Jess.
It can be an uneasy task, especially after watching the eldest of three boys light the bareback riding world on fire. Jess Pope has not only qualified for the National Finals Rodeo each of the past three years, but he’s also won the average champion each December. Last year, he left Las Vegas with the Montana Silversmiths gold buckle awarded to world champions.
Ty Pope watched closely and admired fondly and took detailed notes. This year, the middle boy is off on his inaugural campaign in ProRodeo while hitting events across the country with Jess leading the charge. On Thursday night, the Popes made matching 87-point rides to move into the bareback riding lead at the Gooding Pro Rodeo.
“I knew that horse was a little tricky to get on, because he really rares out of there and leaves pretty hard,” said Ty Pope, who rode Summit Pro Rodeo’s Cowtown. “I knew I needed to get a good markout and go at him, and he rides really good.”
It worked, and so did Jess Pope’s ride on Summit’s Red Beard. The brothers from Waverly, Kansas, not only share blood; they also share a passion for riding bucking horses. Ty Pope is 25th in the world standings and would love to keep moving up the money list. Jess Pope, who battled through early-season injuries, has worked his way to 12th in the world standings.
“If I can’t beat him, I’d rather tie him,” Ty Pope said. “It’s fun. We want to see each other succeed. If I’m not winning, I want to see him win, and it’s the other way around.”
While Jess Pope claimed rodeo’s gold in 2022, Ty Pope was kicking off his career with great success. He won the intercollegiate national championship, then followed that up with the ProRodeo national title by winning national circuit finals rodeo. He was hoping to roll that right into the 2023 campaign, but sometimes the best plans don’t always work out.
“My year has been just a little slow,” Ty Pope said. “I had a hard time drawing the horses I needed at certain rodeos, but I’m going to try to win as much as I can to get in the top percent to get in those big winter rodeos.”
That’s valuable. The winter can make or break a cowboy’s season, and there are some lucrative rodeos that can pay great dividends. He has a lot of things that help him through the process of rodeoing.
“Jess has helped me a ton in my career,” Ty Pope said, noting that three-time world champion Tim O’Connell is also part of the rig. “Going up and down the road, I get to learn a lot at all these different places. We get to talk about the horses we’re getting on, and that helps me a lot to set a game plan.
“I’m going to take all the help I can. I’ve got all these blessings in front of me. I’m super blessed to have guys like that around me. Tim is just really serious about what he does. He helps me understand that it’s a serious game, to look at it more as a job instead of just being out there having fun.”
Ty Pope understands the business at hand, and his job is riding bucking horses.
Gooding Pro Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Jess Pope, on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Red Beard, and Ty Pope, on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Cowtown, 87 points; 3. Kade Berry, 86; 4. Mason Clements, 84.5; 5. (tie) Leighton Berry and Kade Sonnier, 84; 7. (tie) Orin Larsen and Cole Franks, 83.5.
Steer wrestling: 1. Stephen Culling, 3.7 seconds; 2. Kyle Irwin, 4.1; 3. Reed Kraeger, 4.4; 4. Ryan Schuckburgh, 4.6; 5. Logan Lemmel, 5.2; 6. Dalton Massey, 5.5; 7. Cyler Dowling, 5.6; 8. (tie) Jesse Brown and Dakota Eldridge, 9.4.
Team roping: 1. Houston Thomas/Braydin Evans, 10.7 seconds; 2. Colby Siddoway/Colter Buttars, 10.9; no other qualified times.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Ross Griffin, 85 points on King & Wentz Blood Tracks; 2. Wade Sundell, 84.5; 3. Cash Wilson, 83; 4. K’s Thomson, 82.5; 5. Dawson Dahm, 82; 6. (tie) Traylin Martin and Wyatt Casper, 80.5; 8. Zeke Thurston, 80.
Breakaway roping: 1. Josey Murphy, 2.2 seconds; 2. (tie) Bradi Good and Hali Williams, 2.3 4. (tie) Jill Tanner and Shelli Scrivner, 2.4; 6. (tie) Aspen Miller, Hanna Hundsdorfer, Alex Loiselle and Jordan Joe Hollabaugh, 2.5; 10. J.J. Hampton, 2.6; 11. Kassidy Dennison, 2.7; 12. (tie) Eryn Maddock and Quincy Sullivan, 2.8.
Tie-down roping: 1. Shane Hanchey, 7.9 seconds; 2. Cody Craig, 8.2; 3. Luke Potter, 8.3; 4. Tuf Case, 8.4; 5. Dylan Hancock, 8.6; 6. Zack Jongbloed, 8.8; 7. Garrett Jacobs, 8.9; 8. Jake Pratt, 9.0.
Barrel racing: 1. Dona Kay Rule, 16.76; 2. Ashley Castleberry, 16.79; 3. Sue Smith, 16.84; 4. LaTricia Duke, 16.88; 5. (tie) Sara Winkelman and Molly Otto, 17.02; 7. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 17.07; 8. (tie) Tarryn Lee and Abby Phillips, 17.10; 10. Haylee Woodward, 17.15; 11. Shelley Morgan, 17.17; 12. Carlee Otero, 17.18; 13. Steely Steiner, 17.19.
Bull riding: 1, Jeff Askey, 88,5 points on Macza Pro Rodeo’s Burnt Oil; 2. Canyon Bass, 85.5; 3. Ethan Skogquist, 83.5; 4. Cullen Telfer, 83; 5. Roscoe Jarboe, 82.5; 6. Dalton McCaslin, 77; 7. Jeff Bertus, 74; no other qualified rides.