Why Dustin Bird Took the Year Off
NFR header Dustin Bird took a break from the rodeo road in 2018.

Dustin Bird, 38, of Cut Bank, Montana, has roped at five Wrangler National Finals Rodeos, including in 2017 with Russell Cardoza. He started the winter with Jake Minor, but when that partnership ended this spring, Bird decided to head home to Montana where he and his fiancé Alicia are expecting their second child this September. Today (August 7) is Bird’s birthday, and we caught up with him as he roped the dummy with his almost 2-year-old son Stockton. Brought to you by CSI Saddle Pads. 

What have you been doing in your year off from rodeo?

I’ve been circuit rodeoing, going to a few Indian rodeos, and that’s about it. I’ve been going to the circuit rodeos heeling for my brother Shawn and roping with Nolan Conway and Shawn at the Indian rodeos. We won second at Glasgow, Montana, the other day, and there were some big names there so I was proud of that. I forgot to enter Great Falls, and that’s my favorite of the year.

Didn’t you win the INFR heeling?

I did, and I won the circuit heeling too. That was a long time ago, though. I don’t remember the year I won the circuit—but I do know Shain Sproul won the heading that year. I’m having fun heeling, but I’m ready to go back to heading.

And pretty soon, you’re expecting another boy. Do you have a name picked out?

I think we’ll name him after my grandfather, Sampson. My son Stockton knows his mom has a baby in her belly, and he goes around and pats everyone—especially my dad and me–on the belly and says ‘baby’.

Are you ready to rodeo next year?

Not really, but kind of. I don’t want to leave my boys and their mom. Last weekend, Tsinigine and Rogers stopped by, and we roped and golfed. Tsinigine had driven from Cheyenne, and I roped with him at the Indian rodeos. I headed for Rogers at the Indian rodeos, and it was fun, but I didn’t want to load up and go to Sikeston and Lovington with them. It would sure be nice, though, to have $65,000 won and head to the Northwest right about now. We’re not that busy now, but we’ve just been hauling a little hay and branding a few late calves. I’m not needed right now really.

What horses do you have these days?

I bought a yellow horse from Chad Turner, Mustard. He’s 10 and he’s awesome. He’s super calm, and he’s super fast. He’s easy. I’m heeling on my dad’s horse Cruiser, and I have Jazzbo, my own horse. He’s one I bought from Russell (Cardoza).

How’s your NFR-mount who helped Rogers to his gold buckle–Dolly?

She’s great, she’s fat as a cow. She’s got a fly sheet on and a fly mask and gets a bath about every other day. Larry Coats built us a saddle for Stockton to ride her, and as fat as she is he can’t really reach the stirrups. But she’s great for him.

What are you taking the year off to do around there?

I took the year off to help on my dad’s ranch. We calved cows, and the whole month of May we brand for ourselves, brand for our neighbors, and haul cows until the middle of June. I went to Reno and the BFI and some Canadian rodeos. My partner in Canada got hurt and is done. I’m 10in the Canadian standings, so I still need to go to a few more.

How many years did you rodeo before you took a year off?

I rodeoed in 2007, 2009, and then 2012 until now. I dang sure needed the time off. I don’t know if I’ll ever go full-time again. But it’s a possibility.

What are your plans for the winter?

I’m going to go to our place in Arizona, and I’ll take in some outside horses and rope a lot and bring some young ones of my own down. Our place in Wickenburg is getting built up, and my dad has a stud and we have some mares, so our young horses need to get going. I’m really looking forward to it. 

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