By: Kristian Limas
November 01, 2016
LAS VEGAS – 1996 PBR World Champion Owen Washburn never had to say much to prove he was one of the coolest bull riders in the world.
He just let his riding do the talking.
Washburn stayed true to form on Tuesday night, graciously accepting his induction as the 43rd member of the PBR’s Ring of Honor at the Showroom at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa, while letting other PBR legends do the majority of the talking for him.
“I came to the PBR in ’94 and I knew the bulls were ranker and the money was bigger,” Washburn said. “I never set out to be famous, never wanted to get rich. I wanted to make a living riding bulls.”
He noted he was grateful for the opportunities he was given and just how far he had come.
“I had a great opportunity and the PBR has been great,” Washburn said. “I never dreamed I could take it this far. They give this award for different reasons, and I think I earned it because of my bull riding.”
Much like his bull riding career, Washburn let his bull riding colleagues do the talking for him during the PBR’s Heroes & Legends Ceremony.
“He never worried about trying to say something cool,” PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said to the capacity crowd. “He was just cool.”
Washburn joined LeAnn Hart, Dr. Tandy Freeman and three-time World Champion Bushwacker as the other honorees of the Heroes & Legends Ceremony.
In an emotional speech, Hart, this year’s Sharon Shoulders Award recipient, noted it took a special kind of grit to love a bull rider.
“You cannot be the wife of a bull rider and not have faith,” Hart said.
2015 Sharon Shoulders Award recipient Robyn Gaffney was honored after being unable to attend last year.
“Thank you for sharing this night with me,” Gaffney said to Hart.
Freeman was honored with the Jim Shoulders Lifetime Acheivement Award.
“I get recognition every day. When a cowboy says, ‘Thank you,’ that is recognition,” Freeman said. “That is the most important recognition.”
The evening closed with two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney introducing his respected rival, Bushwacker.
“He is the greatest bucking bull that ever lived,” Mauney said.
Washburn was introduced by Lambert, as well as 1997 World Champion Michael Gaffney, and two-time World Champion Justin McBride, who made a point to mention that Washburn was one of the biggest influences in his bull riding career.
“He was the reason I went to the PBR,” McBride said.
McBride recalled how he saw Washburn ride in the early days of the PBR on television and was constantly blown away by Washburn’s swagger. For McBride, that kind of confidence was a major source of inspiration.
No other moment exemplified that confidence than his ride on Hammer in 2003 in Bossier City, Louisiana. Washburn was the first to cover the legendary bull, who was 23-0 at the time. Just to make his point stick, Washburn rode him a second time the next night, once again wowing the crowd for 92.5 points.
“Owen didn’t get on hoping he would ride a bull like Hammer,” McBride said. “He knew that he could do it and he expected that out of himself each and every time.”
Washburn’s highest scored ride came in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he rode Promise Land for 95.5 points. The ride is the 16th highest scored ride in PBR history.
In his career, Washburn qualified for 10 World Finals and earned the nickname “Captain Consistency,” a name that grew out of his bull riding ability and as a play on his hometown, Capitan, New Mexico. He officially retired from the PBR in 2005.
The ease with which Washburn rode was difficult to comprehend, but it was something McBride and countless other riders did their best to emulate.
“He’d get off and it’d be like he just took a walk around the block,” McBride said. “He rode those rank bulls day in and day out.”
McBride continued, noting that Washburn has made a mark in the sport that cannot be matched.
“He is my bull riding hero,” McBride said. “And he will forever be a legend in this industry.”
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.