story by Michele Toberer Dawson and Jessica McMaster have “McMastered” their respective events and are sitting at the top in the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association […]
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Meet the Member Danny Weil
story by Michele Toberer
After taking nearly a decade off from riding bareback horses, Danny Weil of Mooreland, Oklahoma couldn’t go another day without the electrifying rodeo action. “One day I realized that year after year had went by, and all the sudden it had been 9 years since I rode.” Danny focused on preparing to ride again by exercising and dropping 30 pounds, all the while hoping he would remember how to do it. “I didn’t have the muscle memory anymore, it was a struggle, but I just kept getting on horses until I finally felt I was riding just as good as when I was in my prime.”
The taste for bareback riding was born into the meant-to-be-bareback rider, and although he grew up in Edna, Kansas, in a family of ropers, bucking horses was all he could dream of. “It’s all I wanted to do growing up, I’ve always had my sights set on it, even when I’d ride my brothers around the living room.” But, the timed-event family was not ready for their youngest member to step into the roughstock life, so Danny waited until he turned 18 to take hold of his dream. He entered a Sankey Rough Stock School in Fort Scott, Kansas, and after borrowing gear from a friend, Mike Esquibale, and with some coaching from Mike and another friend, Shane Tibbets, Danny started entering rodeos just three months after the Sankey school. Danny rode everywhere he could, getting on every horse possible, and had honed his skills enough to secure a rodeo scholarship to Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where he rode bareback horses on the college rodeo team for three years and graduated in 2006 with an agriculture business degree.
Life began to change focus for Danny as he married his wife Renee and took a short time off from riding in 2007-2008 as their son, Dillon, was born. After riding another season with the KPRA in 2009, he decided to retire from rodeo and stay focused on his young family and career as a branch manager for the Farmer’s Cooperative in Mooreland. The couple bought a house on 40-acres outside of Mooreland and stepped away from rodeo as they built their life. Flash forward to 2018, and Danny had realized how true it was that ‘time flies when you’re having fun.’ “My wife was apprehensive when I told her I wanted to go back, she was glad when I retired, but I appreciate how supportive she is of the decision. My son loves it and always comes and videos my rides.” In April 2018, Danny bought his KPRA card once again, and entered his first rodeo in a new decade, planning to go to a few rodeos every once-in-awhile. But, once Danny stepped over the back of those broncs again, he tasted a familiar feeling that had never left him, and once-in-awhile became every-chance-he-could-get. “It just snowballed. It was back in my blood and it turned back in to me wanting to get on every horse I could.”
Danny was unsure of how his 34-year-old body would hold up to riding, but is grateful that his body hasn’t failed him, and he is dominating the competition while experiencing an intense enjoyment of his sport. Danny is at the top of the leaderboard for the 2018 Kansas Professional Rodeo Association season, racking up over $12,500 in winnings since April, and going in to the season finals September 21-23, with a commanding lead, over $9,200 above the bareback rider in line. He recently won the Super 7 Series in the KPRA, winning the most of any competitor in all the events. But leading over other riders is the last thing on Danny’s mind, “I just concentrate on the horse at hand, I don’t focus on the other riders; I’m not riding them, I’m riding the horse I just drew.”
Stepping back into rodeo, Danny sees an improved version with the digital world improving entry systems and communication in the sport. “The KPRA has really stepped up their game also and came into their own.” Although he feels he may have missed two generations of bareback riders while he was away, he plans to keep riding until his body tells him otherwise.
“I appreciate it more now. I took it for granted when I was younger and didn’t realize the talent I had. Now, each time I get on I’m grateful I can do it, I buy more pictures, and I try to savor it all.”