Ryan Motes–bolstered by the talents one of the greatest heel horses of the last decade, Starbucks–has recently rolled over the $1-million mark in PRCA career earnings.
Motes has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo four times in his career, which began in 2001 when he rodeoed with his father, 1977 world champion David Motes.
"The majority of that million came in the last five years," Motes said. "It took me a while."
Motes first qualified for the WNFR with Jimmy Edens in 2007, where they won one go-round (tying for the win in Round two with Travis Tryan and Michael Jones).
"I thought I had it figured out, that it would be easier from then on out," Motes said. "We swapped around, we didn’t make the Finals, and I went for a few years there. I kind of wondered I guess if I would get back or not. I didn’t really feel like I was good enough. I still had things to learn and work on. I decided I’d practice like everyone else who does it for a living. I decided to just rope for a living. I was going to put 120 percent into it instead of the 100 I always had. I was going to treat it like it was my only business. I wanted to see if I put the same amount of effort into it as all the very best do, I wanted to see what I could accomplish."
Motes roped with Brock Hanson in 2012, and they tied Chad Masters and Jade Corkill's 3.3-second world record that year at Nacogdoches (Texas) ProRodeo & Steer Show. They made the WNFR that year and won Rounds 1 and 5, finishing fourth in the average.
He made the Finals again in 2013 with Charly Crawford and in 2015 with Aaron Tsinigine. Motes helped Tsinigine win the gold buckle that year, finishing second himself to Kollin VonAhn with $226,541 won.
Through all of these WNFR qualifications, Motes has been aboard CD Starbucks, a 2008 son of CD Olena out of Cari Me Starlight by Grays Starlight. "Starbucks" won the AQHA/PRCA Heel Horse of the Year title in 2013, and along the way has also helped Motes win another $160,205 at the Bob Feist Invitational alone.
"I would say the good majority of the money I've won in my career was on Starbucks," Motes said. "I would have to say $850,000 to $900,000 of it. I probably rode him at 65 or 70 rodeos every year since 2004 until last year. I’ve never ridden anything but Starbucks at the NFR."
Motes' mother gave him Starbucks as a 2-year-old, and he also has Starbucks full brother, Rockstar, which he won the first-ever Lonestar Shootout on in early May.
"My family has been extremely supportive. Roping is what I’ve always wanted to do, and [my wife] Courtney and my mom, they've been behind me all of the time. If I didn't have them to take care of things when I was gone, and if I hadn't been able to take Courtney with me when I left, my team roping career wouldn't have lasted nearly as long."
Motes, who will turn 38 July 18, still hopes to add a gold buckle to his list of career accomplishments. At press time, he had $15,416.45 won, mostly with Hanson, who he is again roping with in 2018. He's 16th in the PRCA world standings.
"The ultimate goal is to win the world. It’s the only thing that keeps me stay driven enough to get to $1 million in the first place. It’s the one thing that makes me want to get up and work at it every day. The competition, and winning, is what excites and drives you. I love competing against the best guys in the world."