In With the New: Tanner Bothwell Takes the First Lead in the New Season

In April of 2013, a reporter asked second generation bull rider Tanner Bothwell, where do you see your bull riding career in the next five years? 

His answer:  Hopefully winning a world championship!

For the 20 year old bull rider from Rapid City, South Dakota who finished the 2013-14 season in the 31st position, he took one giant leap towards that prediction when his named appeared at the top of the list in the first published CBR World Standings released on September 5th.

After making the whistle just four times out of twelve attempts on the Road to Cheyenne CBR tour in the 2013-14 CBR season, Bothwell has taken his professional career to the next level in the last 60 days. 

Tracking his 153 recorded outs on, it is obvious he is serious about that intent. 

Since July 1st, he has been to 20 cities and ridden in 25 perfs.  Barely missing qualifications for the CBR World Finals, Bothwell still had a reason to make the road trip to Cheyenne. 

Attempting to repeat family history at the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo, where his father Thad Bothwell had once the led the bull riding going into the final round, Bothwell rode 605 Plaid Shirt of Scott Burruss, for 87 points in round one which was enough to advance him to the final round. But fate would intervene and he bucked off the unridden bull from Carr Pro Rodeo, the infamous -7 Rattler, who posted a 45 point bull score for his half of the effort.  

On August 28th he paused from the PRCA action to launch his quest for the CBR World Championship and made the trip to the Dakotas to begin the CBR season. Although he bucked off in the final Shoot Out round, Bothwell had plenty to celebrate as he put up his first 90 point plus career ride in the CBR in the first round on Benny Cude and Carl Wilburnís veteran bucker, No Hands. He would continue his streak in the semifinal round riding 131 Top Shelf, owned by Bean Counter Bucking Bulls, for 87 points.

Bothwellís first career score of 90 or above was earlier in the summer at a pro rodeo in Coleman, Texas, where he was also 91 points.

Catching up with Tanner on the Road to Cheyenne (and the NFR), he answered a few more questions about his life, bull riding, and plans for the winter of 2014. 

CBR:  Who influenced your decision to be a bull rider?

Bothwell: My dad (professional bull rider (Thad Bothwell) rode bulls, and I was always around it when I was little and always kind of wanted to be like him. He taught me to stick to the basics, and to believe in myself that I can win anywhere. 

CBR:  Tell me about your familyís history with bull riding?

Bothwell:  In 1998 my Dad was sitting in the top 5 of the PRCA and was on his way to the Cow Palace (San Francisco) in a small plane that crashed. He broke his back which kept him from the NFR that year. He came back from injury two years later and was again sitting good for the NFR and was winning Cheyenne when he suffered a career ending injury which has resulted in multiple surgeries to his riding arm.

CBR:  What is the best advice you have received?

Bothwell:  From my Dad - take every bull the same, stick to the basics, donít second guess them (bulls).

CBR:  How did you get started? 

Bothwell:  I started when I was 13Ė got on some calves and then we went to a Little Britches rodeo in Rosebud, South Dakota (without my Mom) and I got to get on a Jr. Bull for the first time. I won the event and it qualified me for the finals. 

CBR:  Did you ride in High School?

Bothwell:  Yes I won the State High School Finals in 2011 and finished in the top 10 at the National High School Rodeo finals.  I also won the National Little Britches Jr Bulls World Championship in 2008 at 14 (yrs. old)

CBR:  Did you play any other sports that might have influenced your career? 

Bothwell:  Wrestling kept me in good shape. And the biggest thing I think it did for me was teach me a lot about mental toughness. I was the South Dakota State Wrestling Champion twice, second place one, and third place another time.

CBR:  How do you prepare? 

Bothwell: I try to get on some practice bulls, my Dad keeps about 30 at the house for bull riding school and I do a lot of theraband exercises and some push-ups to stay fit. 

CBR:  You seem to enjoy the fans and the bull riding family what is your advice to others beginning in the industry?

Bothwell: Guess you just try to be nice to people and treat everybody with respect, especially the fans, they are why we get to do what we love.

Editorís Note:  As the one who has to chase down the winners (and some losers) week to week on the Road to Cheyenne for interviews I can personally attest to the fact that he practices what he preaches. Bothwell was waiting for me in the sports medicine room for his post event interview, as I had requested. Thank you Tanner!

Bothwell plans to continue to ride in all CBR on the Road to Cheyenne tour events as well as the Horizon Series.  You can follow Tannerís championship run on Facebook and Twitter.