By Andrew Glover
RIPLEY, Okla. —
When Ripley senior Nick Shenold was in junior high, he was like most boys and played basketball. In high school, that changed for Shenold as he got interested in saddle bronc riding.
“My dad was a team roper and I went to a rodeo with him,” Shenold said. “I wanted to see if that’s what I wanted to do.”
Now, Shenold will continue pursuing his passion after becoming the first Ripley senior to sign a rodeo scholarship and will saddle bronc for Southwestern Oklahoma State.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Shenold said. “I’m looking forward to it. They got a good program.”
Shenold said he talked with several schools but chose Southwestern State because of distance to home and financial reasons.
“It’s pretty close to home,” Shenold said. “They were the only school that was willing to help me out.”
Saddle bronc riders are mounted on a horse and try to stay on it as long as they can without being bucked off. If the rider completes the ride, it and the horse is scored on a scale from 0-50. Shenold said his first ride was nerve-wracking.
“I had to work on my reining,” Shenold said.
The Ripley senior said he doesn’t think about the ride much.
“It’s all reaction,” Shenold said. “The more I think about it, the worse I do. The ride doesn’t last long.”
Shenold rides in the Oklahoma High School Rodeo Association, American Cowboys Rodeo Association, the International Professional Rodeo Association and the Professional Cowboys Rodeo Association.
The Ripley senior was the 2012 Reserve Champion Saddle Bronc Rider and finished seventh in the National High School Rodeo Finals. During his senior year, Shenold was the tie-down roping student director. In the ACRA, Shenold competes in rodeos from the beginning of March until the end of October. This past season, Shenold won Rookie of the Year.
“I’m blessed and think the season went really good,” Shenold said. “I worked really hard at it and it helps prepare me for the upcoming year.”
Shenold said one of the challenges of saddle bronc riding is not knowing the horse you are riding.
“The rodeos contract the horse,” Shenold said. “You’ll draw it.”
Shenold said he hopes his success leads to others being interested in the sport.
“There’s not a whole lot of bronc riders,” Shenold said. “Hopefully, more people will want to do it.”