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: Rowdy Moon
story by Lily Weinacht
Swift of foot and bold in the arena, 18-year-old Rowdy Moon has been fighting bulls for the last four years. Though his bareback rigging rides alongside his cleats, the two-time NSRA Bullfighter of the Year dreams of working the WNFR from outside the chutes.
“My dad rode bulls in high school, and that’s what got us started,” says Rowdy, who currently makes his home in Taylor, Neb. “He put my brothers and I on calves when we were kids and we grew to love it!” As much as he loved riding bulls, the idea of fighting them was even more fascinating to Rowdy, and he attended his first bullfighting school as an eighth grader. “It was up in Johnstown, and Steve Wrangler and Jay Brewer put it on, plus Wacey Munsell and Aaron Ferguson were there helping,” Rowdy recalls. “I’ve been to three more schools since then, and I’ve had some good mentors and teachers. Boots and Phillips Rodeo Company took me under their wing when I was a freshman in high school.”
Rowdy primarily works Boots and Phillips’ rodeos while entering the bareback riding. During his high school years, he qualified for the NHSFR four times in the bareback riding, finishing third in the nation his senior year. As a freshman at Mid-Plains Community College, Rowdy also competes in the bareback riding on the rodeo team, trailing first place by one point. “The school is sponsoring me and I wear their jerseys for fighting the Nebraska high school rodeos, plus some other events. I’m really thankful for the support I get from them, my parents, and Boots and Phillips!”
Rowdy appreciates any opportunity to step into the arena, but a particular favorite of his is the Custer County Classic put on by Bud Everly in Broken Bow, Neb. “I’ve had the opportunity to fight with some of the greatest bullfighters in the world because of Broken Bow. I’ve fought with Frank Newsom and Cody Webster, as well as Cory Wall and Cory Greibel,” says Rowdy, who has also been named the Nebraska High School Bullfighter of the Year three times. Fighting bulls came to him naturally, growing up fighting calves freestyle. He had plenty of practice on his older brother’s bucking stock. “The biggest thing is thinking on your toes. If you can get a corner on a bull, the likelihood of him getting you is less,” Rowdy explains. “The most challenging for me right now is getting my name out there and stock contractors being able to see me work and hire me.”
Anxious for rodeo season to pick up again, Rowdy keeps himself occupied with school at Mid-Plains, where he is working towards a bachelor’s degree in business. He spends the rest of his time in the weight room, or playing basketball or paintball on campus. He occasionally heads home to see his parents, Casey and Sandra Moon, and two-year-old sister, Sadie. He also has two older brothers, Buck and Cody. Buck rode bulls through high school and college, while Cody raised bucking stock for several years.
“As long as I’m getting better at fighting, and staying healthy, I’m happy,” says Rowdy. “Now that I’m older, I’m ready to travel further. There are tons of rodeos in Nebraska, but not much in the way of freestyle bullfighting. Chad Smith puts on several freestyles in Iowa, and I really believe freestyles are coming back. I want to get more comfortable competing in them, plus they’ll help me get my name out there for my ultimate goal, which is fighting the NFR!”