story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’m not much of a planner,” said Ryan Bestol of his storied rodeo career so far. “When I get something in […]
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Meet the Member Jeff Richardson
story by Lindsay King
A late bloomer in the world of rodeo, Jeff Richardson from Kearney, Nebraska, did not start his career until he was in college. “We lived in Fullerton, Nebraska, a smaller town so of course I was in all the sports my school offered: football, basketball, baseball and track.” Jeff traveled to a lot of rodeos with his parents, even learning how to rope and competing in some team roping jackpots. “My parents both rodeoed, so I grew up around it. I focused on sports since I was in eastern Nebraska and all the rodeos were out west.” After he graduated, Jeff pursued a diversified agriculture degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “I was getting back into riding and roping so I thought I would go to a few rodeos and see how it went. I did that all four years I was in Lincoln. I placed here and there but nothing major.” It was his senior year of college that Jeff started his current rodeo event: steer wrestling.
“I had always thought steer wrestling looked fun. I like physical sports and I found I was more successful at it than roping.” The NSRA has provided Jeff with mentors to help him excel in his event. “I traveled with Harrison Halligan for awhile. A lot of guys in the NSRA have helped me get to the next level. They are a really talented group of bull doggers.” The NSRA continuously revamps their finals and are working towards even better payouts. “They have drawn a lot of people from other states. It can be tough to pro rodeo out of Nebraska, the NSRA is doing a good job of being a premier amateur association.” Jeff is working towards a year-end title, something that has eluded him so far. “I have gotten hazer of the year a couple of times. There are a ton of good hazers, so it was very humbling to have my peers vote for me.” He has also had horse of the year.
Jeff owns a custom manure hauling business, working hard all fall, winter and spring. “I don’t do a lot of hauling in the summer, so I can rodeo. I bought my PRCA permit in 2004 and filled it that summer, so that definitely consumes a lot of my time.” Anything that can be done outside, Jeff can be found doing at one point or another. “I have fun doing just about anything: skiing, going to the lake, practicing, anything. But I do travel a lot for rodeo.” Jeff competes in the KPRA, PRCA Prairie Circuit, M-SRA and NSRA. His mom is to thank for most of his rodeo success in all four associations. “My mom pro rodeoed; she taught me a lot about competing at that level. I also learned a lot of horsemanship and how to take care of horses from her.”
The National Western Stock Show and Cheyenne Frontier Days are at the top of Jeff’s list every year. “Cheyenne is my top rodeo, but I really like Denver, probably because I have done well there. Everyone always likes the rodeos where they win.” His main goal for the year is to make all four rodeo finals and do well there. “Our end goals are always to win the year-end title. In the past I have focused on that too much instead of doing the best I can, taking it one rodeo and one steer at a time.” He believes the mental aspect of the sport is something he will always be working on. “Rodeo is a challenge, I love the competitiveness of the sport. It is something I will be working hard to be the best at.” His advice for aspiring rodeo athletes is to start with a reputable instructor and a good horse. “I think buying an older, more experienced horse helps out the most. Age doesn’t matter, all you need is one that will give you a good run every time and is solid in the box. I think you can excel the fastest when you get in with a lot of positive competitors who are winners both in the arena and out.” Jeff is thankful for the support from his sponsors: Nebraska 811 (anyonecall.com) and JBS Manufacturing (jbscanada.ca).