Rim Rock Rodeo gives local bull riders a place to hone craft, dream about making it big
Quinten Hayden was tossed, turned and yanked around like a rag doll, but a cranky bull named Blue Duck couldn’t get the pesky cowboy off his back.
After 8 seconds of clockwise twirling and bucking, Hayden pumped his fist and flashed a pair of bull horns with his hands after hitting the ground on his feet at Fruita’s Rim Rock Rodeo.
After his ride, he was greeted by family and congratulated by a couple of competitors for taming his ornery bovine.
An 87 gave him Tuesday night’s victory. The Fruita bull rider wins fairly often at Rim Rock.
Hayden rides most Tuesdays at Rim Rock, but dreams of the big time.
And why shouldn’t he?
Riding bulls at the Rim Rock Rodeo, then hitting the big time has been done — twice recently.
Two guys named Ty started mastering their bull-riding skills at Rim Rock before making it big in the professional ranks.
Tyler Smith of Fruita is a former Xtreme Bulls champ and a two-time winner at the National Finals Rodeo. This year, Ty Wallace of Collbran currently sits fourth in the NFR standings. He’s been to the NFR twice and has one victory there.
“I actually travel the same circuit that they do and I’m trying to do the same thing they’re doing,” Hayden said. “It would be so cool to be No. 3 from this area to make it.”
He smiles at the thought and the dream.
“It would be the ultimate if I could make it,” he said. “I’ve even competed right next to them at other events, and I’ve almost had the glory that they’ve had, but it’s hard to get there.”
He paused for a second, smiled and shook his head, “It’s no easy feat.”
At 28, Hayden still dreams of the big time and he’s got a busy July planned, hitting the road looking for that special bull that could lead to a big payday.
Next up is Casper, Wyoming, then he’ll pop over to Gunnison and Eagle after that, then it’s off to the Daddy of ‘em All — Cheyenne Frontier Days.
“You win Cheyenne Frontier Days, it’ll change your life,” Hayden said, smiling.
Dreaming big at Rim Rock
Every bull rider who tests the local bulls at Rim Rock has heard of Smith and Wallace, and that keep those dreams of making it big in the world of bull riding alive.
Wallace chuckled when asked about getting his start at Rim Rock.
“When I was younger, I remember my grandpa taking me there to ride sheep,” he said via phone. “When I was in high school, I entered almost every week down there.
“It’s just a little rodeo but it helped me. I gained a lot of ability and learned a lot.”
From bustin’ those Fruita muttons to the National Finals Rodeo — it can happen.
Jason Blasdel, 29, is another Fruita bull rider who’s found success at Rim Rock — but not last Tuesday. A bull named Speed Bump sent him flying in about 6 seconds.
He still wonders if he has a chance to make bull riding a career. He’s traveled the same circuit and hopes to make it to the same level of Smith and Wallace
“I’ve ridden at the PBR (Professional Bull Riders),” Blasdel said. “I haven’t quite got to where (Smith and Wallace) are yet.”
He does love riding at Rim Rock, though.
“I’ve been coming here a long time now, it’s just a good place close to home that I can ride bulls,” he said.
Smith was a hometown guy who used Rim Rock to prepare him for bigger rodeos. He was successful on the local bulls, then turned it into a good career.
Last year, Smith won the eighth round at the NFR to win $26,230, then got busted up by a bull in the final round, and decided to step away from riding this year.
Bull riders from all ages come to Rim Rock to get started. The junior bull riders start on smaller, less belligerent bulls. When those riders are ready and older, they start taking on the bigger, angrier bulls.
Sixteen-year-old Cory Jones, a tall, lanky cowboy from Olathe, is already riding the big bulls. Every time he gets on a bull, whether he goes the full 8 seconds or comes up short, he’s learning and getting better.
Bull riding consumes and motivates him, and he wants to make the big time someday.
“I definitely think about it every day,” he said with a humble smile. “I’d love to make it to the big leagues.”
Jones gives a firm nod when asked if he’s heard of Ty Wallace and Tyler Smith. He knows all about them, and he knows they were tested on the same dirt and the same kind of bulls he’s riding right now in Fruita.
“It’s crazy to think about a couple of guys from a small town can actually make it,” he said.
It might be a few weeks before Hayden returns to Rim Rock and he hopes he has some big stories of success on the bull-riding circuit he can share with his buddies when he returns.
He’s not quite ready to give up on chasing his bull-riding dreams and adding his name to the list of two who have gone from Rim Rock to the big time.
“You have to have a lot of luck going to those big rodeos and riding where it counts,” he said. “I have the skill and knowledge to get it done, I feel like I ride just as good as those guys.
“Putting it all together when it counts is what it’s about.”
Going from Rick Rock to being one of the best in the nation can be done. Those two guys named Ty have proven that.
For the cowboys who come to the Rim Rock Rodeo most Tuesdays in the summer, they still dream of hearing the cheers at places like Cheyenne, Houston, San Antonio, Denver, and of course, Las Vegas.