After bouncing back from a tough start, Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler finally got their hands on the $50,000-a-man RodeoHouston team roping title after shooting a 5.5-second run in the clean-slate Championship Shootout on March 19, 2023.
Pulling out of NRG Stadium with $55,750 each bumped both Rhen Richard, a five-time NFR qualifier, and 2016 World Champion heeler Jeremy Buhler to the top of the PRCA’s world standings. This push helps set up the rest of the year for the pair.
“I think, anytime you can win one of the majors, it’s a huge accomplishment,” said Richard, the 33-year-old from Roosevelt, Utah. “That rodeo’s obviously the best rodeo of the year just because of the payout. It’s still pretty crazy to win that much money in one spot. It pretty much makes your year and sets you up to have a chance to win a gold buckle. So, we’re excited.”
Now sporting the confidence that comes with a RodeoHouston win, the pair is craving success even more and has no plans of backing off any time soon.
“I don’t think wins like that happen by coincidence,” Richard said. “I think there was a reason we were in that position. We’ve been roping good. That’s why we’ve worked our butts off every day to do what we do to have a chance to win something like that.
“It just fuels the fire, and it really makes you believe that you can do it,” he added. “You are one of the top, elite teams. We’re ready to roll.”
Super Series Play-by-Play
The Super Series began with a less-than-ideal start with only a leg caught in each of the first two rounds. Richard was aboard a 12-year-old gelding he got last winter that he said got a little strong in the field for the steers they roped.
“Our steer went off to the right real hard,” he said. “I got a really good start. Jeremy looked like he heeled him and lost a leg. We still ended up winning fourth with a leg, and then we come back the second round and I missed the barrier a little bit. Still turned the steer in a decent spot, but the same deal—I was a little too strong with the steer and he didn’t really clean up very good. Jeremy got another leg, and we still won third.”
Richard hopped back on his tried-and-true, 10-year-old gelding Deetz and things connected. The team won second in the third round with a 6.8-second run, earning them $2,000 a man to add to the $1,750 a man they had already collected.
Richard and Buhler made it out of the Super Series Semifinals with a 5.2-second run, good for another $2,000 check. Then, Championship Sunday started with the Championship Round in which the pair went 5.8 seconds to move onto the four-man Championship Shootout.
Buhler, the four-time NFR qualifier from Arrowwood, Alberta, credits Richard for a great start and handle in the final four-man round, setting them up for a winning run.
“I think Rhen got a really good start,” Buhler, 35, said. “And you know, he just he roped him sharp and set the run up. I think he gave a lot of warning on where the steer was going, and kind of set me up to a spot where I could see the shot coming. I think it was one of those runs that just kind of came together smooth and ended up being a little quicker than we thought”
According to Richard, the start was a big priority at RodeoHouston.
“I think both runs I tried to be aggressive at the barrier,” he said. “The boxes are long there, and that arena is so big. It seems like if you miss the barrier a little bit—even on the best steers—you end up running them too far and it’s just hard to be controlled. So that was my first thing I was focused on: making sure I scored sharp and was getting a lot of send off the back of the box.”
Mind Over Matter
To push past the two legs in the Super Series, Richard and Buhler focused on the fundamentals.
“It’s hard to do, but I try to not get too caught up in the results,” said Buhler, who was aboard his 19-year-old gelding Knight Robber Son—aka Hoss. “I roped two legs and we got paid on both of those legs. We won fourth on the first one and third on the second. But to me, how I try to quiet my mind is I try to focus on like, ‘Okay, what happened? What fundamental did I not do right to rope a leg on that steer?’ To me, that helps me sort of shake it off.”
For Buhler, a mental toughness mindset is key.
“I put a lot of time and effort into the mental end of it,” Buhler said. “I don’t pay attention to what anybody else drew. I like to know the track record on the steer that we have, just the tendencies that it has. But, for the most part, I’m mostly focused on the first thing that I have to do. And then I trust that my muscle memory will react faster than trying to think my way through it.”
Similarly, Richard adds how important a short-term memory is.
“It’s just part of the game,” he said. “You can either let it go and move on or you can let it control you. It took me a long time to learn that you can’t let the uncontrollable control you.”