Second Generation Cowboy Qualifies for Cheyenne

Probably the first thing I ever noticed about Tanner Bothwell was that he is always surrounded by people. Smiles, cutting up, and the “yes mam”, all come natural to this 21-year-old cowboy from Rapid City, South Dakota, that has qualified for his first CBR World Finals at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Bothwell joined the ranks of the professional rodeo athletes when he began riding in the CBR in the 2012-2013. He acquired his Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) card in 2014. He finished his PRCA year with career Earnings: $46,924.00. 

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 buckled down and began the 2015 season by taking his career to the next level.

Tracking his 209 recorded outs on, it is obvious he is serious about that intent.

Since August 1st, he has been to 40 cities and mounted 67 bulls.  Barely missing qualifications for the CBR World Finals in 2014, 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 Shootout 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 Wilburn’s veteran bucker, No Hands. He would continue his streak in the Semi Final Round riding 131 Top Shelf, owned by Bean Counter Buckin’ Bulls, for 87 points.

Bothwell’s first career score of 90 or above was earlier in 2014 at a pro rodeo in Coleman, Texas, where he was also 91 points.


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

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.

Tell me about your family’s 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.

What is the best advice you have received?

Bothwell:  From my Dad - take every bull the same, stick to the basics, don’t second guess them (bulls).

How did you get started?

Bothwell:  I started when I was 13– 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.

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).

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 once, and third place another time.

How do you prepare?

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

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.


Professional Highlights

• Co-champion at the Rapid City (S.D.) Xtreme Bulls with 171 points on two head

• Won Iowa's Championship Rodeo (Sidney)

• Won the YMBL Championship Rodeo (Beaumont, Texas)

• Won the Coleman (Texas) PRCA Rodeo

• Won the Johnson County Sheriff's Posse (Cleburne, Texas)

• Won the Days of '56 PRCA Rodeo (Ponca, Neb.)

• Won the Carson (Iowa) Community Rodeo


Career Highlights

• 2013: Won the Oregon Trail Rodeo (Hastings, Neb.) and the Cave Creek (Ariz.) Fiesta Days Rodeo; earned $15,426 on his permit

• 2012: Won the Mandan (N.D.) Rodeo Days and co-champion at the Crazy Horse (S.D.) Stampede; earned $5,529 on his permit. Injured his right shoulder in Crawford, Neb., on July 4 and missed seven months