Riding on a horse for eight seconds might sound easy, but some horses buck, kicking into the air with its hind legs trying to throw off a rider.
Sounds dangerous enough, but horses that buck are used in competitions worldwide, and the people who ride them, Bronc riders, get a real adrenaline kick out of it.
Every horse has a job: jumping horses, saddle horses, barrel racing horses, and more but some horses are born to buck.
Bronc riding competition consists of a rider lasting on a bucking horse, saddle or bareback, for a minimum of eight seconds with one arm in the air and the other holding on to the saddle or the riggin’. Two judges base their score off of how the rider spurs in time and how well the horse bucks.
At the start of a competition, horses are randomly drawn, so riders get a fair shot; some bucking horses have never been ridden, which can make it dangerous to ride.
A 21-year-old college student at California State University, Fresno, who is on the Fresno State Bulldoggers Rodeo team, is up for the challenge.
“When it was time for me to get on the first bronc, I was so nervous. I thought, ‘there is no backing down now’. I worked my whole life to this event, and I’ve always aspired to do this,” says Reed Neely, Year-End California Circuit Saddle Bronc Riding Champion.
Neely had just returned from the PRCA Circuit Finals in Red Bluff, Calif. on October 9-10, where he was crowned PRCA California Circuit Year-End Bronc Riding Champion of 2020.
He qualified for the Ram World Circuit Finals Rodeo for spring 2021, which will be held in Kissimmee, Florida, it is a worldwide event.
“There is a difference between nervousness and being scared; I don’t know a pro out there that doesn’t get nervous; that’s what keeps you on your toes and keeps you reacting quickly,” says Neely.
He was the top Bronc rider his senior year at Clovis East High School, where he received a scholarship.
Neely has been riding since he was sixteen; he practices every day with a mechanical bucking machine and once a week with a bucking horse without over-exerting it.
“They are athletes just as much as we are; you want to keep them well-fed and grained. Keep them in top shape that you can,” says Neely.
Neely ensures horses buck because they want to; no harm is done to the horse. Most of the time when they are not in a competition, they are roaming free in large pastures.
“You can’t force a horse to buck; it won’t work. The horse has to want to do it. You can’t aggravate a horse or scare them into bucking. They are just going to want to do it or not, “ says Neely.
Even with a safety vest and strong, sturdy boots, it does not stop a mother from worrying about her son every time he gets on a bucking horse.
“It’s scary; he gets on some pretty crazy horses. He gets on a lot of horses that have never been ridden before,” says Debbie Neely, mother of Reed Neely.
Debbie Neely has plenty of confidence in her son, knowing he knows how to get out of the way if he is bucked off with a stop-drop and roll method.
“I want him to graduate from college; that’s our main thing. We want his education because if bronc riding was something where he could get hurt, he would always have his education to fall back on. School is a priority,” says Debbie Neely.
Reed Neely has both of his parent’s support. Debbie Neely has been doing barrel racing most of her life, and her husband, Jeff Neely rode bronc bareback inspiring his son at a young age to do something similar.
“That outside of the horse is good for the inside of the soul,” says Debbie Neely.