Riley and Brady Minor showed up to the Pendleton Round-Up ranked 14th and 11th in the world standings, respectively, with $59,878 a man in 2021 earnings to date. The Minor brothers looked to be on their way to their 11th Wrangler National Finals Rodeo berth together in the last 12 years. But Riley’s Sept. 17 fall on the grass in the second round left the rest of their regular season a little up in the air.
With initial, unofficial reports that Riley’s wreck resulted in a broken left ankle and dislocated shoulder, many assumed he’d be packing it in for the year. Further tests confirmed that while he did break two bones in his left ankle and sore up his right shoulder—he sprained the AC joint in his roping arm—Riley’s getting right back in the saddle to finish out the regular season. The Minor brothers have one more rodeo left—this week’s ProRodeo Tour Finale in Salinas—after pulling out of the Pendleton parking lot on the bubble at 15th and 14th in the world heading and heeling standings.
“We are going to Salinas,” said Riley, who lives in Ellensburg, Washington, with wife, Jordan, and daughters, Monroe, 4, and baby McCoy, who’ll be 1 on November 3. “You go all year long, and we’ve been inside the Top 15 dang near every week since May. So we aren’t quitting now. It would sure be nice to get back to Vegas. So at this point we just have to do what we can.
“Hopefully, ol’ Bob—Riley’s two-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/American Quarter Horse Association Head Horse of the Year—will run me right up there at Salinas (where strong horsepower really stands out), and we’ll get a few doctored for some money and head back to the house.”
Riley was riding his 14-year-old bay horse, Tupac, when he went down at Pendleton.
“I thought I was going to be done for the year, but after meeting with some doctors and the Justin Sportsmedicine Team, I decided it was worth staying hooked,” Riley said. “A doctor here at home built me up a brace, and cut a big old cowboy boot to fit. In the position I’m in, I have to try it. I couldn’t live with just sitting here and watching myself get passed (in the standings) if there was a slight chance I could rope. Win, lose or draw, I can know I tried.”
Riley’s in good hands, and the Seattle Seahawks superfan will meet with the team’s ankle doctor next Tuesday, on September 28.
“I’ll meet with the doctor in Seattle right after Salinas, and I’m hoping to have surgery as soon as possible from there,” he said. “The tibia is cracked off the side, and the fibula is broken. I actually fell at San Antonio in the semis in 2012, and broke those bones in the same leg. So I have a rod and some screws in there already. This break is at the bottom of that rod, and they’ll go in and put me back together with a plate and a few more screws. If I make the Finals, I’ll definitely be back for Vegas.
“There’s a little risk involved in having it break worse by trying to rope before I get it fixed, but that’s just a chance I’ll take. The Justin Sportsmedicine Team will be in Salinas this week, and they’re confident in taping me up so it’s safe enough to rope. My right shoulder got sprained when I flipped and rolled, and it’s damn sure sore. I swung a rope a couple days ago, and feel kind of like an old guy. But I can swing my rope, and I’m hoping adrenaline will take over at Salinas.”
As for going down at Pendleton, that was a first for Riley. And it does not damper his love for the iconic Northwest rodeo.
“Pendleton’s one of my favorite rodeos and you know there’s risk involved, but I broke my leg falling at San Antonio on the dirt, too,” Riley said. “Pendleton is one of the coolest rodeos there is. It’s dang sure not cool when you break your ankle, but it’s still a great rodeo. If you’re just going out there trying to catch, it’s not that hard. But when you have to go fast for a chance at the day money, your odds of falling go way up.
“The way my wreck looked (in pictures and videos), it could have been worse. Then you watch Spencer’s (Mitchell) fall, and it looked bad, but he got right up and walked away. It all happened so fast for me—there was no slow motion to it. It’s unfortunate that it happened, but it’s just part of rodeo and life in any professional sport. It was definitely an eye opener to go from your daily routine to crutching around everywhere the last week of the regular season. But we have to just roll with the punches.”