story by Michele Toberer Although Tanner Hayes started out team roping and competing in Little Britches rodeos as a child, it wasn’t’ until he gave […]
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Meet the Member Luke Rush
story by Michele Toberer
The Kansas Professional Rodeo Association is glad to have Luke Rush as their newest Saddlebronc Riding Director and member of the KPRA board of directors. Originally from Raton, New Mexico, Luke was raised in Clay Center, Kansas and has spent his years living the cowboy life. “I’ve mainly just been a cowboy and rodeoed my whole life. There was close to four years before I got married that I rode broncs full-time professionally.” Through high school and college, Luke competed as a calf roper, competing at the national high school finals three years and also competing at the college regional finals play-off rodeo. “I was always interested in saddlebronc riding, but my parents, Brady and Cindy Rush, wouldn’t let me because they thought I roped too good to take the chance getting hurt. Growing up, I always rode someone else’s problem because that’s what I could afford, and I became a pretty talented bronc rider in a different sense of the word.” While Luke was serving as a pick-up man during practice at Garden City Community College his freshman year, he told the bronc riders “if you ain’t got no more try than that you should just stay home,” After, they dared him to try if it looked so easy, he had them show him how to use the saddlebronc equipment and made his very first ride. One of his coaches, JimBoy Hash, entered him in the next college rodeo, and although he hadn’t been on more than 5 broncs by the time the rodeo came, he made the short-go, and went on to make 30 saddlebronc rides before ever getting bucked off. “There for a while, I thought I would be a saddle bronc rider that never got bucked off, but that didn’t prove to be true, now I’ve gotten bucked off as much as anybody.”
Luke competed on the Garden City rodeo team for two years, and spent a year competing for Fort Hays State University before going to work and rodeo full-time. Luke spent close to 5 years guiding hunts back in New Mexico before rodeoing professionally. After marrying his wife, Shylah, almost 7 years ago, the couple had their daughter, Reanne, on their first wedding anniversary, and Luke began looking at his lifestyle a little differently. “Like many cowboys, I was rich one day and had next to nothing the next. I wanted something a little more stable for my family, so I quit riding for about 5 years.” Luke began working as a ranch manager, and he’s currently been working for 4 years for Southwestern Livestock in Ashland, Kansas, where he manages close to 4,000 head of yearling cattle on over 15-thousand acres. Shylah teaches science and history at a middle school in Protection, Kansas, and 5-year-old Reanne is in kindergarten. Although Shylah also roped and ran barrels in college, she has put competing aside until Reanne is a little older.
Luke has trained and shown horses throughout his life and often ropes on horses at rodeos to campaign them. “I was roping at a KPRA rodeo two years ago when I saw how much money there was to win in the saddle bronc riding. The KPRA has got something great rolling here and are doing some pretty big things for rodeo. They have big rodeos, lots of added money, and broncs as good across the board than I’ve seen. I saw that I could make a good secondary income and not have to get more than two hours away from home for a rodeo.” So, after discussing with Shylah, Luke entered saddlebronc at a mid-season rodeo on July 4, 2017 and started back earlier for the 2018 KPRA season. “I thought I’d just get the joints oiled back, and make sure the chain still worked before I pedaled this bike to the professional level. At 37, I can’t physically go as long as when I was younger.”
Luke is excited about not only his future, but the future of KPRA, “Leon Winfrey, the president of KPRA, has done so much for the association. They’re doing such a great job with sponsors and rodeos. There were over 80 KPRA-sanctioned rodeos this season, and some really good cowboys are coming to compete which is bringing the best contractors to the organization.”