by Jim Bainbridge | Apr 19, 2014
By Ruth Nicolaus for the Red Bluff Round-Up
RED BLUFF, Calif. – Ryan Gray is taking his first solo rodeo trip without his family this weekend, and he’s making it count.
The Cheney, Wash. cowboy rode the Flying Diamond Rodeo Company horse Falina’s Fling for 82 points and the lead in the bareback riding at the Red Bluff Round-Up.
He and his wife, Lacy, had their first child, a boy they named Ransom, on January 7, and since then, he hasn’t gone on any rodeo trips without them, until this week.
His ride in Red Bluff is a good start to the weekend and the spring season.
“It feels good, to get on top for the first performance,” he said. But he knows there are more bareback riders to go, and his 82 points may not hold throughout two more days of rodeo. “That’s the five or six thousand dollar question,” he said, “whatever it takes to win” the rodeo.
“There are a lot of good guys left, hoping to get a little piece of the money.”
Gray had met up with Falina’s Fling before.
“I was excited about that horse,” he said. “I had her in Sisters (Ore.) last year, and won second on her there. She’s been around a long time, and when she’s fresh like she was (tonight), she’s a good horse. She’s something you can win a good check on.”
Gray, who has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, ProRodeo’s “super bowl,” eight times, is a self-professed homebody, and hasn’t been anywhere without his new family since his son was born.
“I’ve been home a lot this winter, and they’ve been going with me when I’ve been rodeoing,” Gray said. “This is the first weekend I’ve been gone from them for the last three-and-a-half, four months, so I’m ready to get back home.”
And he has a new motivation for riding now.
“I have a different purpose for when I win now,” he said. “I’m supporting not only my wife and I, but now my family. But at the same time, you can’t let that control how you ride. This is something I love and enjoy, but it’s also something that feeds my family and puts food on the table and pays the bills, so it means more to me when I win, because it’s just that much more special, to provide for my family and do something that I love at the same time.”
Other leaders at the roughstock end of the arena after Friday night’s performance were saddle bronc rider Tyler Corrington, Hastings, Minn., who scored 84 points on the Big Stone Rodeo Company’s Big Jim, and bull rider Wesley Silcox of Santaquin, Utah, who had an 83-point ride.
The third round leaders in the timed events were steer wrestler Seth Brockman, of Wheatland, Wyo. (3.5 seconds); tie-down roper Marshall Leonard, of Shongaloo, La., (8.5 seconds), team ropers Jim Ross Cooper, of Monument, N.M., and Brock Hanson, of Casa Grande, Ariz. (5.0 seconds). Cynthia Williamson, of Vacaville, Calif., had the fastest time in the second round of the barrel racing (17.44 seconds).
The second of three performances of the Red Bluff Round-Up takes place Saturday, April 19. The Kiwanis Pancake breakfast runs from 7-10 a.m. (PT), and the rodeo parade kicks off at 10 a.m. The rodeo begins at 2:30 p.m.
Courtesy of PRCA