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End of the rodeo trail for Oregon bareback rider Bobby Mote

Kathy Aney

East Oregonian

Published on September 12, 2017 8:47PM

Brooke Taynton of Canyon City signs her autograph on the inside of professional bronc rider Bobby Mote’s hat outside of Hamley’s in Pendleton in 2013.

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Brooke Taynton of Canyon City signs her autograph on the inside of professional bronc rider Bobby Mote’s hat outside of Hamley’s in Pendleton in 2013.

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Bobby Mote of rides for 83 points at the 2013 Pendleton Round-Up.

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Bobby Mote of rides for 83 points at the 2013 Pendleton Round-Up.

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Bobby Mote puts splint boots on his horse before warming the animal up at the Pendleton Round-Up Grounds in 2012.

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Bobby Mote puts splint boots on his horse before warming the animal up at the Pendleton Round-Up Grounds in 2012.

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After terrorists flew planes into the twin towers in 2001, Americans reeled in disbelief and shock. They struggled to get back to everyday life.

For bareback rider Bobby Mote that meant climbing onto wild broncs for crazy, corkscrewing eight-second rides. A couple of days after 9/11 at the Pendleton Round-Up, the cowboy settled himself onto a restless brute named Broadway. He remembers Toby Keith’s “The American Way” coming through the speakers.

Then came an ear-splitting roar that cut Toby off in mid-bar.

“Two jets did a fly-over,” Mote recalled. “They flew in low and loud. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.”

He and hundreds of others at the rodeo that day felt an emotional surge of patriotism.

“It was electric,” Mote said. “That place had more energy than any other place I’d ever been.”

The memory joins scores of sweet moments dotting Mote’s 22-year professional rodeo career. The cowboy, who retired recently at age 41 to concentrate on horse training, won’t make it this year to the Round-Up, a rodeo he missed only twice as a professional bareback rider.

Mote, known for his unruffled demeanor as he climbs aboard high-octane broncs, will leave his mark. The four-time world champion competed in 15 consecutive Wrangler National Finals Rodeos. He won Pendleton in 2012 and earned numerous seconds and thirds.

The Culver cowboy, who now lives in Llano, Texas, rode his first bareback horse at age 15 after paying eight dollars to ride at a practice pen in Powell Butte, Oregon. He climbed aboard a horse named Squeak.

“The horse basically just ran,” he said. “He barely bucked. He wouldn’t have jumped over a pop can.”

Nevertheless, “I was hooked,” he said. “That’s all I wanted to do.”

Even as a teenager, Mote was big on setting goals for himself.

“Before I could really ride, I had the goal of being a multiple-time world champion and going to the NFR more than a dozen times,” he said. “I meant it when I wrote it down and I believed it.”

At age 17, he told some of his teachers about his dream. He remembers them telling him he would never make a living. He ignored them, quitting school to compete full-time. Over the years, he met his original goals and more.

Professional roper Mike Beers, who once competed on the Blue Mountain Community College rodeo team, is a pal. They met when Mote showed up for a team roping event at Beers’ home arena in Powell Butte.

“Bobby rode good, but he had no idea what team roping was,” Beers recalled, with a guffaw. “It was a little scary.”

Beers tutored Mote, teaching him the finer points of roping and in time Mote got it. Eventually, the two men competed together in team roping. They won a buckle at the Wainwright Stampede in Alberta and earned their way into the Canadian National Finals Rodeo. They never got the chance to compete, however, because a few weeks later Mote punctured his pancreas at a rodeo in San Juan Capistrano, California. The injury joined a long list of others, including a sprained neck and broken collar bone suffered when his bronc tried to jump over another horse.

“I pay for it every morning when I wake up,” Mote said, laughing.

Beers, who now lives in British Columbia, has suffered his own share of injuries. One came not during a rodeo, but at Mote’s Culver ranch in 2007, a time when Beers and his son Brandon sat atop the world standings for team roping. Beers was putting one of Mote’s horses (a previously gentle horse that Mote’s daughter rode in junior rodeos) through its paces for a potential buyer when the horse dropped its head and kicked up its back legs. Beers banged his pelvis hard against the saddle horn and went airborne. The impact broke his scapula in half and fractured his pelvis. Mote, knowing his buddy didn’t have adequate insurance, put on a fundraiser and raised $25,000.

The Pendleton Round-Up is a favorite of both men. Mote described the rodeo as “tough to win.”

“Pendleton was always exciting — no doubt about that,” Mote said. “You never know what to expect. There are more conditions (such as the grass and the size of the arena) that impact what horses do. A so-so horse may come to Pendleton and buck like crazy. You always had a chance.”

Mote said, since bareback is the first event, he loved watching the place start from dead silence for the opening ceremony to crazy exuberance as the rodeo kicked into gear.

“The place would light up,” he said.

Mote said he wants to go out on top instead of after his “expiration date.” He will miss the adrenaline, the camaraderie and the pride in seeing a plan unfold, but now it’s time to chase a new dream.

In March, he took a position with Reliance Ranches, a quarter horse racing program in Texas and Oklahoma. He describes his new job as “repurposing racehorses” that are done with their racing careers, but can be transformed into ranch horses or mounts for barrel racers or ropers.

As he moves forward, Mote doesn’t spend time second-guessing his decision to quit rodeo.

“No regrets,” he said, “I’ll miss it, but it was a chapter in my life.”

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Contact Kathy Aney at kaney@eastoregonian.com or 941-966-0810.





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