Bobby Mote could have gone home and rested his aching arm. He could have kicked up his boots, helped around the house and been very selective about his rodeo schedule. But he didn't any of those things. Mote kept pushing, pressing on and riding hard. That dogged determination carried Mote to his second world bareback title.
"Sure, it feels great. It's been five years in the making,'' said the 31-year-old cowboy from Culver, Ore., who won his first bareback gold buckle in 2002.
This title came from thoughtful decision making, based on seven years of Wrangler National Finals Rodeo experience. Mote won the bonus round of RodeoHouston for $50,000 in March. Considering it only took $61,428 to be among this year's top 15, Mote was more than halfway for another trip to Las Vegas. But he knew better.
"It's been shown here, there is no such thing as a safe lead,'' Mote said of the NFR. "That's why you keep working, every dollar counts during the regular season. Houston was big of course, but you've got to go out and get every dollar you can all year long.''
Mote refused to put away his gear bag. He went out and won bareback titles at nine other regular-season rodeos, including four in his home state: Redmond, Eugene, Sublimity and Prineville. Mote was also the co-champion at the Snake River Stampede in Nampa, Idaho. So consistent, Mote won money at approximately 80 percent of the rodeos he entered. And two wins in Canada-Strathmore, Alberta and Armstrong, British Columbia-forced Mote to make another decision that would heavily impact his 2007.
He qualified for the high-paying Canadian Finals Rodeo and the ProRodeo Tour Championships Finale in Dallas, Texas. Mote had the potential to win more money up north, but the money at Dallas counted in the PRCA world standings. The money in Canada did not. Mote opted to compete in Texas.
"I wanted to go to Canada,'' Mote explained. "We (wife Katie) just had our third child and we were building an addition to the house. But the reason I went to Dallas was for the gold buckle.''
The father of three-sons Charlie and Trey along with daughter Laura-won $3,500 in Dallas. "I'm glad I went to Dallas,'' he said.
Mote carried a lead of almost $50,000 over Justin McDaniel, of Porum, Okla., into the NFR. Mote's $152,184 won during the regular season is a bareback record.
At the NFR, Mote faced challenges on two fronts: himself and a hard-charging Will Lowe.
"You face challenges all year long, I was glad I could conquer them,'' Mote said.
Neither won any money in the first three rounds and Mote was becoming increasingly frustrated.
"Early on, I didn't think I was drawing very good,'' Mote said. "My horses weren't bucking. I felt like I was doing my job, but the horses weren't doing theirs. That got into my head and I was struggling. It's hard not to be anxious. I finally had to settle down, slowed up and went back to the basics.''
Mote won the fourth round and as Lowe began his rapid ascent up the world standings, Mote stuck a clutch 84.5-point ride on the horse Dusty Dan in the eighth round to share first place with Scott Montague. He closed out the NFR with an 82.5 point ride on Lunatic Fringe. It wasn't enough to place, but it was enough to share fourth place in the average. It was the difference between winning the world title and finishing second. Mote would place in four of the 10 rounds and earn $55,000. That was enough to hold off Lowe, who won a bareback best $116,213. Mote won his second world championship by $17,000.
"This feel good,'' he said of a second world title. "Especially because of this group of bareback riders. It's a tremendous group, from top to bottom, the best guys in the world.''
Mote does not regret any of his decisions he made during his 2007 season.
"I'm 31 now and the years go by so fast,'' he said, turning reflective. "You don't want to every take anything for granted. This is a difficult sport. I don't want to be one of those guys, after the years pass, who look back and regret that I let things slip away because I didn't try hard at the time. I don't want to be one of those guys who gets complacent, fat and happy as the years go by … that I didn't take advantage of the opportunities out there.
"It was a fun year. I'm going to stay ambitious.''