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11.09.2015
Reid Barker Strengthens Mind and Body for 2015 National Finals Rodeo

 By Leigh Ann Schroeder

 

It was a warm Sunday afternoon in late September in New Braunfels, Texas. Reid Barker was up in the bull riding during the Extreme Bull Riding at the Comal County Fair PRCA rodeo. For the hundreds of people attending the event it was just another rodeo perf, but for Barker it was everything.

“My entire year came down to the last day, the last two bulls,” said Barker from his home in McCoy, Texas. 

“I was sitting at the bottom of the last three spots going back and forth between 14, 15, and even dropping down to 16 through the last two weeks before the September deadline. 

During the remaining few opportunities to qualify for the NFR, Barker went to Omaha and drew a not so great bull, bucked off and dropped down. Then he traveled to Oklahoma City, bucked off, dropped again in the PRCA World Standings, then he repeated what seemed to be his destiny in Stephenville.

“It all came down to one event, two rounds, two bulls stood between me and qualifying for my second National Finals Rodeo,” recalled Barker.

“I won the long round with an 89 point ride on Universal Rodeo’s Easy Money. I kept my focus and drew a good bull called Whirl Away from Lancaster and Pickett. I was the last guy to go and all the others had bucked off. I still had to ride mine to get the bulk of the purse to qualify and it was a real nail biter.

Barker was 84 and finished 173 on two to earn $1,819 which would qualify him for his second trip to Las Vegas for the Superbowl of rodeo. His calculations would prove correct and later the next week he would be officially named the 14th qualifier of the 2015 NFR with a total earnings of $63,847 just 14 points ahead of the No. 15 bull rider, Kody DeShon.

In the month following that great photo finish, Barker began his 66-day preparation for what will be his attempt to take home his share of the $84,615.38 dollar prize money available nightly to the contestants in the bull riding.    

Enlightening me to the fact that the NFR is as much a mental fatigue as physical, Reid was eager to answer my questions on what he hopes is the magic formula for success this year.

 

PREPARATION

Preparing for the NFR has Barker going to the gym to get in and stay in the best physical shape for what he calls a “grueling” 10 days of competition.

“My body gets sore after a few rounds up there and I am trying to combat that this year.”

Barker is focused on strengthening his body and core over an emphasis on cardio.

“When I played football I did a lot of weight lifting drills that I use in my rodeo routine, focusing on working out the muscles I am using more: arms, legs, and core.”

 

BULLS

According to Barker the list of stock for the bull riders is tremendous.

“I have been on many of the NFR qualified bulls and most of them you can be in the high 85’s every night. It should be some great watching, as a rider it will be enjoyable, but very, very challenging,” said the twenty-three year old who says he is keeping all negative thoughts away.

As far as preparation, Barker plans to prepare himself only. Fine-tune the basics in order to stay in control. “If I do my job, the rest will take care of itself,” he continued in response to the do you study the bulls question. “I am going to relax and have fun.”

After traveling to Las Vegas in solitude, Barker will be joined in Sin City with both his grandparents, his mother and father and wife and daughter.

 

INJURIES

Barker suffered minor injuries during the 2015 season, but in mid-July of 2014 the then twenty two year old bull rider Reid Barker from Comfort, Texas, butted heads with a bull in the Central Wyoming PRCA Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming resulting in injuries that might have other athletes sidelined indefinitely.

A serious concussion, a fractured right orbital bone (eye socket) and surgery could not keep the determined Barker from returning to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) circuit in pursuit of the coveted PRCA top 15 ranking that would earn him an invitation to the rodeo industry’s Superbowl, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

"It can take months, years to get over head injuries," Barker said. "I sat at home for 30 days, getting madder and madder that I wasn't out here. I couldn't wait. I thought, 'As soon as they let me go, I'm like a dog off its chain.'"

In 2014 the 5’8, 160 pound Barker was fourth in the PRCA world standings at the time of his injury and finished the race for the National Finals Rodeo in the number 7 slot and finished the year in the 14th position after a disappointing first appearance in Las Vegas.

Barker who has been healthy along the 2015 Mahindra Road to Cheyenne won several CBR Horizon events, and competed in his first CBR World Finals in 2015. Last month he had his best finish on the televised tour with a second place finish in Mercedes. He is currently ranked No. 4 in the CBR World Standings and will return to action in the top tier when the CBR tour resumes in January.

 

IN HIS OWN WORDS

"My philosophy is we are all considered professionals from the time we buy our card. Being the top 15 bull riders at the NFR makes you the best of the best. In my opinion when you are in the higher tier, you want to excel by yourself…from within. At this point the only person I go to for help is my Dad. My Dad has been coaching me since day one, he knows me better than anyone else and he has been there for me every step of the way.”

 

BACKGROUND

After winning the Texas High School Bull Riding State Championship in 2011, Barker qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo in 2011. But riding bulls was not the only thing on Barker’s mind.

Rushing for more than 1,000 yards and scoring 35 touchdowns in one season, Barker, the starting running back on his high school football team, received All-district honors and his team was a semi-finalist in Division I of Texas High School football.

Barker started riding sheep at age four and worked his way up to calves, steers and junior bulls. At age 14, his bull riding career took off as he won the junior Wrangler National Finals Rodeo bull riding in the summer of 2006.

Barker and his new wife Shelby have a one year old daughter who will be attending her second NFR. Tinley will hopefully be awake for this year’s rodeo cheering for back #14.

 

Professional

2015 CBR World Finals Qualifier

 

2015 PRCA Highlights

• Won at the Missoula (Mont.) Stampede

• Won the Comal County Fair & Rodeo Xtreme Bulls (New Braunsfels, Texas)

• Co-champion at the Walker County Fair & Rodeo (Huntsville, Texas)

 

2014

• Won the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo Xtreme Bulls

• Won the Caldwell (Idaho) Night Rodeo

• Won the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo (Vernal, Utah)

• Won the World's Oldest Rodeo (Prescott, Ariz.)

• Won the Bell County PRCA Rodeo (Belton, Texas)

• Co-champion at the Pioneer Days Rodeo (Clovis, N.M.)

 

Career Highlights

• 2013: Co-champion at the Longview (Texas) PRCA Rodeo and finished second at the Oakley Independence Day Rodeo (Oakley City, Utah). Finished 42nd in the world standings with $24,854

• 2012: Earned $6,831 in his rookie season


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