Bobby Mote and Ryan Gray, Grinnin’ and Barin’ It
Top-ranked PRCA bareback cowboys and tight friends Bobby Mote and Ryan Gray always seem to be in the mix for the money. Mote has competed in the National Finals Rodeo nine times and earned three world titles (2009, 2007, 2002), while Gray has qualified for the NFR five times, coming in second overall in 2008.
The duo travels together with two more friends and they enjoy a tight bond inside and outside the arena. While their 2009 seasons were successful (Mote with a third world title and Gray with a sixth-place finish), they did so while dealing with painful injuries (neck for Mote and knee for Gray) that became progressively worse over the 2009 season and into 2010.
The good-natured cowboys went under the knife in late April 2010 to address the issues and spent early recovery time at Gray’s house, where they agreed to a telephone interview.
Question: Bobby, you were the 2009 world title holder, congratulations on that, and Ryan you had a good year, how do you guys feel about last year?
Ryan: I felt good last year … like I kind of started progressing in my riding and felt like I learned some things last year. Even at this level, there is always something more to learn and to get better. It was a good year. I wish I would have had a better (NFR); I kind of struggled a little there, but I’m looking forward to a good year this year, too.
Bobby: I thought last year, all in all, was pretty good. I’m looking forward to this year. I’m going to have this neck deal out of the way, so I think I’ll be able to ride a little better and more consistently and not have to protect my neck.
Q – You both just had surgeries. Can you explain what they were and why you decided to get those procedures done at this time?
Bobby: My surgery consisted of taking some bone spurs out that were impinging on a nerve that goes down my left arm. So what would happen is when I’d ride, when my head would go back, it pinched that nerve and my arm would go numb. This time of year is probably the slowest time of year and you can get away with missing a couple of rodeos and you can sure enough make it up in the summer time. The winter, with the big winter tour rodeos going on, and the summer with all the busy summer rodeos scheduled, you don’t want to miss any time. So this looked like the best time for me and, honestly, I couldn’t ride anymore the way my neck was anyway, so it was fortunate it was this time of year for me.
Ryan: Mine has kind of been an on-going injury. I tore my ACL in 2006 and it’s just gradually gotten worse. Without my ACL I have less stability in my knee, which creates a problem with tearing the meniscus, which is the padding between the joints. I’ve torn it a few times and the tear’s gradually gotten to the point where it’s been bothering me more and was interfering with my riding and overall performance. The surgery I had – I did not get my ACL fixed – I got the meniscus cleaned up so my joint would quit locking up. It would swell when it was locked up and would be sore for three or four days or a week. So I got that cleaned up and it should feel fine. I’ll still have to tape it and keep it stabilized (but) like Bob said, this is a pretty good time of year to get this done.
Everybody thought, since I won Houston (Livestock Show and Rodeo) I was going to go get my knee fixed. But you know, it had progressively gotten to the point where it was bothering me nearly every time I stepped in a hole wrong or if I would kneel wrong or was just working around at home.
It needed to be fixed, regardless of the time. It was just fortunate that it is this time of year.
Q – In getting your surgeries done now, how important is it, timing-wise, to be 100 percent for that busy “Cowboy Christmas” time of year?
Bobby: Oh, it’s important. That’s when you make a majority of your money. This time of year, you’re going to big rodeos every couple of weeks or so. I’ve been to maybe five rodeos all year. The summer time, I’ll usually get pretty aggressive with entering about July and August.
We’ll be somewhere special pretty near every day and have chances to win money every day. That’s the most fun time of year, in my opinion.
Ryan: Yeah, definitely. Like Bob said, we go to more rodeos in the month of July than we go to from January up until now. We go to probably three times as many as we’ve been to already. We’re going nearly every day (and) it’s pretty fun.
Q – What’s your rehab looking like, time-wise? Are there specific rodeos you are targeting for a return?
Bobby: The surgeon said I could be back to riding as soon as four to six weeks. I’m shooting for six weeks with the Sisters rodeo (June 10-13) and so I think that’s the week I’m going to crack back out.
Ryan: As far as a PRCA rodeo, I’m not real sure yet. I’ll probably be back right around the same time Bobby is, maybe the weekend before that.
Clovis, N.M., is right here close to where I live and I believe that is the first weekend in June. That may be the next PRCA rodeo where I’ll be.