story by Lily Weinacht As a child, Trent McFarland was sternly informed by a teacher that acting like a clown would get him nowhere in […]
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Meet the Member Brad Bates
story by Lily Weinacht
Brad Bates started riding bucking horses on a bet with his roping partner. In high school at the time, the pair of team ropers bet each other who could stay on the longest. Both rode their first horses, and today, Brad is a three-time TSRA saddle bronc riding champion and he’s qualified multiple times for the PRCA Southeastern Circuit Finals.
“When I was younger, I was dead-set on making the NFR, so every day, I did something to help me strive to win,” says the 31 year old from Morton, Mississippi. “I’d go to practice, exercise, ride the bucking machine, or get on a bucking horse. After I had my first daughter, I pretty much quit riding for about four years. I maybe went to twenty rodeos in those four years, and people didn’t really think I could come back and win, so my motivation was to show them I could. I think I’m riding better than I ever have – and winning.”
Brad started getting on horses again in 2014 and he’s won every TSRA year-end saddle bronc title since then. “The (2016) finals were very good to me. I won a round and took second in the other two rounds, and finished second in the average,” he says. Brad also qualified for the Southeastern Circuit Finals in 2016, the first time he’s been back to Davie, Florida, since 2011. He started pro rodeoing when he turned 18, while he also team roped and rode saddle broncs three years for Northeast Texas Community College (NTCC) and University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM). “Riding broncs came easy at first in high school, and I don’t like getting beat, but I got beat pretty bad in Texas,” Brad recalls. “I learned how to win pretty quick.” During college rodeo, Brad worked with UTM’s rodeo coach, Mike Merchant, who became a lifelong friend. “A lot of people have really helped me, but Mike is the main one I call if I’m having trouble,” says Brad. “I also met Cody DeMoss, and he helped me a lot when I got into pro rodeoing.”
One of his favorite broncs in the TSRA is TNT Rodeo’s horse 861. “She’s a bronc you have to work on, but she’s a real bucking horse, and you can definitely get some points on her,” he explains.
When he’s not rodeoing, Brad is a farrier, shoeing primarily barrel racing and jumping horses. He’s kept equine athletes shod the last 10 years and even has a few clients on the road. Much of his time is spent with his daughters, Kelsey (eight) and Bailey Anne (three). Kelsey and her cousin compete in Little Britches rodeos, and Bailey Anne will start junior rodeoing in a year or two. “My girls have a big horse and a pony apiece, and I hang out with them while they practice more than anything,” says Brad. “I’ll also take them hunting, and if I’m just going for a weekend, they’ll come with me to my rodeos.
“I’d like to win the circuit finals and see how high I end up in the world standings in the next few years,” he finishes. “I got into the top thirty-five one year. Most of all, I absolutely love getting on good bucking horses.”