Meet the Member Dale Davies
story by Michele Toberer Dale Davies has been blessed to live a life centered around horses and rodeo. Growing up in Fort Collins, Colorado as […]
story by Lily Weinacht
“There’s nothing else I can imagine doing. Traveling every weekend, seeing new states, and meeting new people—there really is no other lifestyle like it,” says JD Aquilina of rodeo. The 22-year-old bareback rider from Tucson, Arizona, grew up team roping like his dad and uncles, and competed in jackpots through junior high and high school. He found his niche in the rodeo world, however, when he went to Cochise Community College in Douglas, Arizona, three years ago. “I was living with a couple of saddle bronc riders at the time. They were helping people get on bucking horses, and they eventually convinced me to do it,” says JD. “Rick Smith was my rodeo coach, and he helped me out and helped me get the things I needed. I was really fortunate with a good coach that made sure I got a good start. My parents have been a good inspiration and support system. I’m the first generation to go and rodeo, so they’ve been really good about that, and my traveling partner, Rio Lee, helps me a lot. It’s fun traveling with someone consistent, and he makes me compete a little bit better.”
While JD sat in a few bronc saddles and tested them out, he was drawn to bareback riding the moment he slipped his hand into the rigging. He covered the first horse he got on at a rodeo, which was a GCPRA rodeo in Willcox, Arizona. “I think because of my coach, I did well, and I was an athlete. While I was in high school and growing up, my dad was a wrestling coach, and me and my brothers have wrestled a lot. I think that’s helped a lot in my success riding broncs.” JD is sitting in the top five of the GCPRA bareback standings, and he finished in the top five at the 2016 GCPRA finals. “They’re all good rodeos to go to, and for me, it was a good way to prepare myself for what I was going to see in pro rodeos.” JD filled his PRCA permit this year and qualified for the Turquoise Circuit Finals, and he plans to buy his PRCA card next year.
In between rodeos, JD enjoys hunting, or snowboarding in the winter, and he rides colts for his uncle Devin Murphy and trains outside horses for roping. He heels in World Series ropings for his uncle, and JD frequently rides Button, his uncle’s six-year-old bay mare. “I like her because she used to be kind of broncy, but she’s coming around,” says JD. He’s also finishing his last semester at Pima Community College, where he’ll graduate with an associate’s degree in business. “I’ll have that to fall back on, but I want to make a point of rodeoing for a living for a while.”
JD spent much of his summer competing in GCPRA rodeos in Colorado, and he also enjoys rodeoing in Montana and California. “In the next few years, I want to go to the NFR and compete at that level, and I’d like to win the circuit finals rookie. I want to go in the GCPRA as long as I can and win the bareback riding there as well. To do both of those in the same year would be cool, but I just really want to keep going as much as I can and stay healthy. I think a lot of it is keeping positive and trusting in yourself and the time you’ve put in. God willing, you trust him and do all right. The best thing I’ve learned the past two years going hard is that when it does get tough, you just ride through it, and eventually, it will come.”
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