GIRARD — Anthony Pike’s favorite movie is “8 Seconds.” It has been since he was two years old and told everyone he wanted to be a bull rider when he grew up.
Pike, now 10 years old, started rodeoing one year ago riding steers and chasing his bull riding dreams, but it is a different event that landed him a chance to ride during the National Finals Rodeo this December in Las Vegas: bareback bronc riding.
Pike started rodeoing when his family began attending Cross Trails Cowboy Ministry in Hepler. Chuck Harris, who operates Cross Trails, is also Pike’s rodeo coach. Pike started out riding steers and in February decided to give bareback a shot.
“I saw some of the other guys doing it and it looked fun,” Pike said. “So I decided to start.”
He rode his first bucking horse at a rodeo in Hepler in February and was hooked. From there he went on to win the “peewee” bareback riding at the American Royal in Kansas City. A win at the American Royal qualified him to compete in the Midwest Regional Finals and have a shot at the NFR.
“I got a belt buckle and a saddle for winning at the American Royal,” Pike said. “It was really cool.”
When the Midwest Regional Finals Rodeo in Carthage, Missouri rolled around, Pike had moved up an age bracket, but that didn’t stop him. He got on a tougher horse for his first ride as a junior bareback rider and took home second place. The top two riders qualify for the NFR, and Pike had made it.
In Las Vegas, Pike will compete in a group of 20 riders in the Mini Bareback Riding World Championship. The riders will show what they’ve got in the Wrangler Rodeo Arena at the Las Vegas Events center as part of the Cowboy Christmas event that goes on every year during the NFR. This year, winners will also be awarded in the first annual Junior National Finals Rodeo.
Pike’s father, Chris, said now they are focusing on getting to Las Vegas in December.
“The Midwest Regional was just last Saturday,” Chris Pike said. “So now we are working on some fundraisers and other things.”
He said the total cost of entry fees, travel and stay is $5,000. Chris said a few fundraisers are being set up and he has created a Go Fund Me page. Anthony is also looking for sponsors. Chris said his first sponsor is JR’s Western Store in Diamond, Missouri. The store provided a pair of chaps to Anthony.
Chris said he’d also like to thanks Michael Loy in Pittsburg for sponsoring Anthony’s entry fees for the Midwest Regional Finals.
The Mini Bareback Riding World Championship will be televised on RFD TV December 1 from noon to 2 p.m. The next rounds will be shown December 2 from noon to 1 p.m., and December 3 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The top 12 riders will make it to a short, championship round, which will be shown December 4 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
There is still a ways to go, but when asked if he is excited, Anthony Pike had one answer.
“Yes!” he said.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.