The First Friday

Brody Dent came to this year’s Junior National Finals Rodeo in search of confidence. The Bend, Oregon, cowboy found some Friday after his 80.5-point ride inside the Wrangler Rodeo Arena to win the first round of the senior bareback bronc riding competition.

“To be honest, coming in here I didn’t have a lot of confidence,” Dent admitted. “But after that ride, I gained a little bit and I’m hoping that I just keep building off of that to where I can do anything.”

Considering what Dent had to overcome just to make it to Vegas, his mental game should be razor-sharp heading into his second-round ride Sunday.

Brody Dent smiles for the camera today! | Photo By: Jake Nowlin

Dent’s family owns a ranch in central Oregon, but that doesn’t mean the 15-year-old sophomore gets to come home from school and practice bareback riding every day.

“We have about 80 head of cattle but we don’t have any bucking horses,” he said. “And in our area there aren’t any practice pens where we can get on any horses, at least not our caliber. There are professional horses, but we can’t practice on those.”

Jesse Dent, Brody’s dad, agrees that finding bucking horses that suit Brody and his bronc-riding friends – in addition to Dent, there are eight other bareback and saddle bronc riders from Oregon competing in this year’s Junior World Finals – isn’t easy.

“We travel all over Oregon,” Jesse said. “But the closest place for us to buck animals is about 500 miles away in northern California.”

Thankfully for Jesse, he has someone to share the driving with.

“Brody and Sean (Mahoney) came to us and they said they wanted to do it,” Jesse said. “I went to high school with Sean’s dad, Matt, so we said, ‘Shoot. I guess we’re doing it together.’”

Bordy Dent getting ready for his ride. | Photo By: Jake Nowlin

Not long after Brody’s ride, Sean scored 73.0 points to finish fourth in the round.

And while injuries come with the territory in the world of roughstock, it was impossible not to notice before his ride that Brody’s right arm was heavily wrapped from his wrist to his elbow.

“He broke his left hand early last year, got it healed up, switched hands and broke his right hand at the Crooked River Roundup (in July),” Jesse explained. “He took about two months off and then was able to come back.”

Friday, with his black felt cowboy hat pulled down tight, Brody waited patiently on the platform behind the bucking chutes while other cowboys got his horse ready. When it was his turn to ride, he settled down onto the white-faced bay horse and waited for the chute to be pulled open. The horse took Dent to the middle of the arena before turning to the right and then circling back to the middle. Dent was thrown to the dirt, but not before making the 8-second buzzer and hearing his score announced.

“That will 100 percent help his confidence,” Jesse said.

It was a ride Jess Pope, Dent’s bronc-riding idol, would have approved of. Pope finished second in the first round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Thursday night across town at the Thomas & Mack Center to take the lead in the world standings.

“In my opinion, Jess Pope puts on a clinic every time he gets on,” Dent said. “Those guys at the Thomas & Mack have all the confidence in the world and they have the strongest mental game, too. Some of them are my size and aren’t any stronger than me, but they can ride horses that are 10 times ranker than these ones.

“Getting there is my goal. That’s my dream.”

Dent knows he has a lot of work to put in before then. The quiet kid from Oregon has never been afraid of hard work, though. He also knows his confidence, which had been a stumbling block, will continue to grow with more rides like the one he put together Friday.

“Rodeo is one of the toughest mental sports I can think of,” he said. “You’re going against an animal that is stronger than you and can whip you around, but you have to stay within yourself. You have to perform your best, but they also have to perform their best.

“In the past, I just wasn’t there. I didn’t have the confidence. But this year I put lots of practice in and worked on fitness and now I can’t look back. You just have to clear your head and do whatever you can.”

Bullfighters race to help a bull rider after he gets hung up in arena. | Photo By: Jack Nowlin

Roughstock Roundup

In addition to Dent, other first-round bareback winners were Westin Clemens of Winterset, Iowa, in the rookie division with a 79-point ride; Taos Weborg of Saint Charles, South Dakota, with an 84.0 in the junior division; and Brayze Schill of West Columbia, Texas, with an 83.0 in the novice division.

The first round of Leal’s Junior Bull Riding also came to a close Friday, with cowboys from four different states sitting atop their divisions.

In the 10-11 division, Kaysen Chaffin of Temecula, California, had an 82-point ride Friday to win the round.

Dayton Loula from Sparta, Missouri, and Claydyn Jolly from Tomball, Texas, tied for the win in the 12-13 division with 79-point rides.

Coldspring, Texas, cowboy Blaize Caddenhead was the winner in the 14-15 division with an 80.0.

And Clay Guiton of Cherryville, North Carolina, set the standard in the 16-18 division with an 87.0.


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