Rising Rodeo Star: Bo Pickett, Columbia River tie-down roper
The roots of tie-down roping lead back to the days of the Old West. This sport was created on working ranches; when a calf was sick or injured, ranch hands would rope and immobilize the calves (for the safety of the animal and themselves) before giving them veterinary treatment. While ranchers still use this practice today, rodeo cowboys back into the box, nod their head for the chute gate to open, and send their horses into a full run to rope and tie three legs of a calf, with the fastest to take home a paycheck. Learn more about tie-down roper (also called calf roper) Bo Pickett, a rising star in the rodeo industry.
GETTING STARTED IN RODEO
“I wanted to be a cowboy once I found out my whole family has been involved in rodeo at one time in their lives,” says Bo Pickett. Rodeo has been in his family for two generations now. He first picked up a rope as a young kid and started roping steers with his cousins in junior high. As a kid just starting out, nerves would often get the best of him. Even starting in junior high, he felt behind the eight-ball when compared to other kids his age. Bo had to better his horsemanship skills and learn to better handle his rope because neither were god-given talents. He admits, “I still work on that. I think some guys are naturals with a rope; some have to work at it more.” When he turned 16, the roping aspect of tie-down was still something he struggled with. However, he started roping more calves, and an improvement in his groundwork was evident. It was more hands-on, something Pickett enjoyed.
FULFILLING GOLD BUCKLE DREAMS
To fulfill his dream of qualifying for the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Bo puts in the work each day to stay healthy and improve his horsepower. By backing off roping practice this year and focusing on getting in the gym more, the difference in Bo and his horse is evident.
Bo has always looked up to his uncle Dee Pickett, a two-time world champion. In addition, Joe Beaver and Matt Shiozawa have been huge influences in Bo’s rodeo career, taking advice and using the skills from their roping to put into practice. He consistently works on matching Joe’s range and Matt’s athletic ability.
Throughout the year, you may be able to catch Bo roping at a few of his favorite rodeos: Caldwell, Nampa, or Pendleton. He appreciates these big rodeos close to home, as there is a different feel backing in the box where spectators recognize your name. Just last year, fans cheered for Bo as he won the short round at Pendleton. When we asked Bo what made Pendleton a favorite in addition to the traveling advantage, he said. “I didn’t win the rodeo, but it’s hard to explain the atmosphere there. It’s a big rodeo without traditional roping chutes, running full speed on a football field. Need I say more?”
STRUGGLES ON THE RODEO ROAD
The rodeo industry and the contestants took a hit this year as rodeos were canceled throughout the United States due to the Coronavirus. The regular season saw a limited amount of events, and the Columbia River Circuit Finals only hosted a two-day event instead of its usual three. After winning the first round with an 8.4, Bo knew he only needed a few hundred dollars to win the year-end and qualify for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee. Bo walks us through his winning run: “When I threw my rope, I missed my slack. Luckily my loop stayed on the neck, and my calf turned around perfectly. I was right there and tied him down. With some luck, I won the second round with an 8.2. Sometimes the roping Gods are on your side, and other times, they aren’t.”
LIFE OUTSIDE OF RODEO
The Caldwell, Idaho cowboy spends his time outside of the rodeo arena on a young horse, playing tennis, skiing in the winter, or spending time with family. He recently picked up tennis with the added downtime during the quarantine with fellow tie-down ropers Matt Shiozawa and Taylor Santos. Off the tennis courts and outside of the arena, Bo is working toward buying his first home with a goal to have it paid off before retiring from roping. However, rodeo action calls and getting to travel to new places is one of the coolest things to experience for Bo.
WHAT SETS THE RAM NCFR APART FROM THE REST?
Circuit cowboys stay close to home to compete within their circuit and work all year to qualify for their regional circuit finals. Upon completing the regional circuit finals, the event winner and year-end champion qualify for the RAM National Circuit Finals in Kissimmee at Osceola Heritage Park. The RAM NCFR is unique compared to other PRCA sanctioned rodeos because of the amount of money up for grabs, considering the amount of qualifying contestants. There are not many opportunities to compete for a share of $1 million in cash and prizes with a small contestant list such as the RAM NCFR. With a lot on the line, the pressure is high, and every second counts! Cowboys push themselves and give it all they have for a chance to be named a National Champion!
Join us in Kissimmee at the rodeo! The RAM National Circuit Finals will be held on April 9-10, 2021 at the Silver Spurs Arena in Osceola County. Contestants from across the United States, Mexico, and Canada can be seen competing in the seven traditional rodeo events: bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, and bull riding! Purchase tickets today to witness history in the making!