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Meet the Member Ryan Rought
story by Kyle Eustice
Born in Morresville, North Carolina, 14-year-old Ryan Rought has had a passion for riding basically any animal that moves from the moment he got on a sheep at 6 years old. Now solely focused on bull riding, the 8th grade student lives in Granite Falls, North Carolina with his mother Karen Rought, and three brothers—Mikey, 18, Josh, 12, and Tyler, 10—although Ryan is the only son still actively participating in rodeo.
“When I was little, my mother’s cousin, who is like an uncle, got me into it,” explained Ryan. “I went to my first rodeo in 2009 and that’s when I started riding sheep. It was a lot of fun, so I just kept going.”
Ryan joined the JRSRA in 2014 and took a brief hiatus before returning to the association again. As a member of the MBR and NJBRA, his dedication to bull riding is intense and every day, he sets out with a goal to always challenge himself to do better than he did the day before. “I tried bareback for a little bit, but I like bulls better,” said Ryan. “It’s more fun.”
For his mother Karen, it’s not as scary as it may seem to other parents. She felt she had ample time to adjust to the sometimes dangerous nature of the sport. “He started on sheep, so I guess I eased into it,” said Karen. “My cousin was bull rider. and I’ve always been around it. I don’t get nervous when he’s on a bull. When he’s in the car with my 18 year old is when I get nervous.”
Although he didn’t make the JRSRA finals in 2016, he could have been the champion, but because of his traveling schedule, he wasn’t able to make it to the number of required rodeos to win this time. However, his sights are firmly set on winning it in 2017 considering he is doing another full JRSRA season.
Ryan is being homeschooled this year so he can juggle his schoolwork and rodeo commitments a little easier. In fact, he had to miss school last year when he was in Las Vegas competing in a MBR association event at the same time the PBR finals were being held in the Nevada city, one of his greatest accomplishments.
“It was pretty cool,” said Ryan. “I got to go to Vegas and everything, but the MBR association is one of my favorite associations. You get to travel a lot.”
While his education is extremely important, he’s also doing leatherwork and as he says, “trying to keep my mind right. I focus on bullriding mostly,” said Ryan. “I exercise a lot. You gotta want it—that’s for sure. You just have to keep going, work hard and be dedicated. It takes a lot of practice.”
For now, he takes care of his 14-year-old boxer and pitbull mix, Tyson, helps with the yardwork and is also hard at work working on a boat restoration with a family friend. It’s clear Ryan is all about tenacity and learning.
“I like having a challenge,” said Ryan. “I always want to reach a new goal. You can always improve in life.”
As he looks forward to getting his learner’s permit in the near future, making the PBR is his ultimate goal. “I am just going to stay committed,” said Ryan. “I want to be a PBR champion one day. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, work my way up and hopefully things will work out until I get there.”