Unforeseen Detour

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

Soon after I went pro, injuries set me back, but I’m back on track.

by Chase Brooks

Five years ago, near the end of my rookie year as a pro-rodeo saddle-bronc rider, a reporter for the Missoulian newspaper asked me what I hoped to be doing five years down the road.

I’d like to be making a run for the National Finals Rodeo, I told him, and hopefully will have been there a couple times.

It’s five years later, and, sure enough, I made the NFR. But this is my first time.

In 2014, not too long after I spoke with that reporter, I was at a rodeo in Stanford, Montana, my home state. I was on kind of a heater. I’d been traveling hard by myself, and I was just worn out. A horse dashboarded me—jerked me over his head—and stepped in the middle of my back. It broke a bunch of ribs, collapsed a lung and lacerated my liver. The doctors told me I was going to be out for a while. Being young and stubborn, I didn’t believe them. I had myself convinced I’d be fine to ride in a month.


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A month later, I got on again in Missoula. I almost had the horse rode—he was nice, too—but hanging on was just way too much effort. I was not in the shape I needed to be in. I got dashboarded again, and the horse stepped on my arm and dislocated my riding elbow. That one put me out for nearly a year. After that, I had some bad luck with a few concussions. Until this year, I never even finished in the top fifty.

This year my luck changed!

It started during the Fourth of July run when I won Prescott, Arizona, for more than six grand. I won the rodeos at Belle Fourche, South Dakota, and Livingston, Montana. I placed at a few others and then wrapped up the week by winning St. Paul, Oregon, which paid nearly ten thousand. That was the best streak I’ve ever had. I won more than thirty-one thousand and nearly broke the Cowboy Christmas record.

Now I’m competing at the Thomas & Mack Center as I predicted five years ago.

The way I figure, if I just go and try to ride horses the best I can, things will work out how they’re supposed to. Besides, I’ve already exceeded what I thought I’d get done this year.

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