Mote in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2022
A conversation with four-time world champion bareback rider on the day of his induction
Oregon cowboy Bobby Mote had a long and illustrious rodeo career as a bareback cowboy. Defying the odds and overcoming numerous injuries along the way, Mote won four Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) world titles and qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo as a bareback contestant an incredible 15 years in a row. When he retired from the sport in 2017 at the age of 41, he totaled more than $2,700,000 in career earnings. The PRCA inducted Mote, along with 10 other rodeo icons, into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs on July 16, 2022, where Lincoln Rogers caught up him for a good-natured conversation. (Note: Some questions and answers have been edited for length)
Rogers: Being in the Hall of Fame means shows long-term excellence in an event where it is difficult to achieve longevity. How do you feel about being in the Hall of Fame today?
Mote: It is a remarkable honor, no doubt about it. To be able to have a successful career in ProRodeo is something in itself. To be able to do it as long as I was fortunate enough to be able to do it really is a blessing. It seemed like it went by like that (snapped fingers), but at the same time I saw a lot of guys’ careers start and finish during the span of mine.
Rogers: Today you have the Hall of Fame listing all of your accomplishments. When you look at that list, does it feel like you have done and accomplished all those things?
Mote: When you are in the middle of it, you don’t pick your head up to look around and see how far you have come. You just keep your head down and keep working. That is the way it felt for the longest time. And then at one point it was over. Nobody is calling to do interviews (laugh). So it is odd how different it is, and then at the same time, you get a call out of the blue that they have selected you to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. It is a great honor. It kind of brings up a bunch of old memories, especially as I got to kind of reflecting on it. It is certainly a lot of fun and a lot to be proud of.
Rogers: How does it feel to you to be inducted such a short time after your career was finished in 2017?
Mote: Yeah. I don’t feel like I am that far removed. I mean, my mind thinks I could go do it today, so you got to take that for what it is worth. I am just glad they got to it before they forgot about me. (big smile)
Rogers: How nice is it to be inducted in an accomplished class like the ones here in 2022?
Mote: Yeah, what a class. Amazing. That is an honor in itself to be selected in that group. I mean, there are 21 bareback riders in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. I did some research and I was fortunate enough to know a lot of those guys. For the most part, for the last three decades worth of guys, or four maybe, they have had an impact on my career. That makes me think about the type of impact that I would hope to have on somebody else’s career. I am around for a while, so I have a lot of opportunity to do it.
Rogers: Any high point that you can point to in your career and think, man I remember THAT?
Mote: It is hard to pick out one thing. Every year was different. Every championship was different. I was thinking about it this morning. My favorite thing about riding bareback horses and competing like this, wasn’t necessarily just getting on and getting jerked around. That wasn’t it for me. For the span of a year, you start at the bottom of a ladder and work your way up. Everybody is tied at zero. You do all that to have one big moment at the end and to see how you shake out in that big moment. And then during the year, there are a week or 10-day spans where you go to Houston or go to Calgary and you wade through everybody to hope to be in that big moment in the end. That one big moment to see how you did. That is what I lived for.
Rogers: Like the biggest rodeos where everybody is coming to compete –
Mote: All the best guys are there. You got there because of several trips. A lot of stuff had to go right. That is the way it is in a whole season and for sure in a career. So if I look at it, there are all these little stair step moments that, did I capitalize when I got to that defining moment or did I not? The times that I didn’t, I was back to drawing board hoping to climb back up that ladder again. So that was the thing about rodeo that stood out to me the most was the sense of satisfaction when you would get to that moment and you would basically capitalize on it versus – I knew the contrast because I had been in those moments and not capitalized – so that is probably the thing that stands out to me the most.
Rogers: You are inducted into the Hall of Fame in a roughstock event. How satisfying is it now to look back on times when you were injured – and some of those injuries were serious – and recall how you worked your way back from those to return to the top?
Mote: It is the same thing as when you work your way to an end point, it is the same way when you come back from an injury. I was in the trauma center in Seattle for eight days. I was leading in the world standings and then I had my pancreas get split in half. They had to take it and just cut me wide open. They told me you can’t sit up in bed or sneeze for two months. So this is end of August and I am going to go to the NFR and have 30 days to get ready for it. Before that I have got to lie down and just take it easy. So you do a gut check. Can I do it? And just like, I am going to do it. So when you overcome that kind of stuff, that is what makes making it to that point even better, because everybody has different challenges and bumps in the roads during a season. Sometimes they overcome it and sometimes they don’t. When you do, that is super satisfying.
Rogers: What did you love best about rodeo?
Mote: Again, I just loved being in the big situations. That is the thing I loved the most about it. That is a feeling that you can’t express. Unless you have felt it, you don’t know what it feels like. Once you have gotten it, then you want to get it again. It is like a drug. So I guess I was a junkie. (big smile)
Rogers: How nice was it during your career when you knew you were on a good animal?
Mote: Oh yeah. There were some horses that I can think of that, as soon as I got stock, I just knew I was going to win. Not in an arrogant way, but just like, there is no way they can beat me. I got Coconut Roll or I got Spring Fling or whatever. The hard part is out of the way – the traveling to get there, the preparation – and now I have this great horse and I know what it feels like to be on that horse. So, when you have Coconut Roll in that $50,000 round at Houston, it is pretty hard not to be excited. Then there is this level of confidence that comes with that.
Rogers: So even over your long career, you still got excited when you had a good match-up in a big moment?
Mote: Absolutely. Yeah. That is what you do it for. That is the stuff that made me want to be at this level and put up with all the stuff you may have had to put up with. It made the sacrifices worth it.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday for events with Democratic Sens. Michael Bennett and John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Gov. Jared Polis, also a Democrat.
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