photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

About a hundred-twenty people told me I better hit the road. My kids were probably the biggest instigators!

by J.J. Elshere

I’m not the youngest saddle-bronc rider out there. I’m thirty-eight and will turn thirty-nine on December 5th, the day before the start of the NFR. Let’s just say I’m well-seasoned.

But I feel almost better than I did when I was going earlier. I don’t know what the deal is. There are still days when you crawl out of the van, and you’re stiff and sore, but it don’t take a whole lot of stretching to get back at it again.

What got me going this year was the Ram Circuit Finals in Kissimmee, Florida. I think I ended up third or fourth. You come into all that money, and suddenly you’re in the top ten. That inspired me. That and about a hundred-twenty people calling saying maybe I better hit the road. My kids were probably the biggest instigators!

The last time I made the National Finals Rodeo was in 2010. I’ve been to the NFR four times. The first time, back in 2006, I ended up winning the average. My best finish ever was in 2009. I think I ended that year in the top three. I can’t remember for sure. I kind of kick myself for falling off those two broncs, but that’s how it goes. I still remember the rides, even though those are the ones you’re supposed to forget! One is pretty clear. I was fixing to get him twisted and, oh, at about six or seven seconds I just kicked out of the stirrup and fell off. Why? Just rider error.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

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I doubt I would have won the round, but I probably would have gotten a check and placed a little higher in the average. Boy, when you place in that average, you’re making bank. Enough to have won a gold buckle? I can’t say one way or the other. That’s why you’re not supposed to look back!

I made the NFR again in 2010, but that year was nothing spectacular. In 2011, I ruptured a disc in my back and had to sit out. I tried again in 2012, but it just wasn’t working. My back never really healed right. I started staying closer to home. I’ve got a wife and five boys, and the kids were getting older.

Now, I’m sitting eighteenth with ten days left in the season. I don’t know if I’ve got much of a strategy to make the top fifteen. Just drive fast and take chances, I suppose. A lot of things come with getting older, but maturity’s not necessarily one of ’em!

Read more about the CINCH JEANS and Classic Equine athletes fighting to make the NFR. Follow #theCjHASE

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photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen


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