Joseph McConnel Takes on the CBR World Finals

The first rookie to appear on the Road to Cheyenne CBR World Finals qualifier list is No. 20, Bloomfield, New Mexico’s Joseph McConnel, a 22-year-old bull rider who began traveling the roads to bull ridings with his older brother Ryan McConnel when he was just fourteen years old.

It is no accident Joseph found his way to the CBR after three years riding professionally. His mentor is fellow World Champion Bull Rider and World Champion Bull Team owner, Owen “The Captain” Washburn, also a New Mexico native.

McConnel was issued a special invitation, or a bye as it is called in sports, from four-time World Champion, Tuff Hedeman to ride in a CBR Road to Cheyenne televised event in New Mexico, Washburn and McConnel’s home state.

McConnel was invited to compete in Rio Rancho, the eighth stop on the already in progress 2016 Road to Cheyenne and he accepted. 

In the unfamiliar territory of the CBR’s three round tournament style event, McConnel covered his first bull, Big Timber, for 86.5 and placed thirteenth in that opening round, missing the semifinal round by one place and half a second. 

He bucked off in El Paso one week later, but then came Bossier City where he qualified for his first final four shoot out round, a difficult task for both a rookie and a rider that has only been to two CBR televised events.

In the hot seat as the first rider on the day sheet, McConnel rode 2015 Bull of the Year, 050 Gold Buckle, for 87.5 in the opening round and that score advanced him to the semifinal round where he was 85 on CPR’s Platinum Gold. 

“It was Bossier City where I finally figured out how the CBR tournament style went; I went in with a pace attitude, just take it bull by bull and go on to the next one,” said an articulate McConnel.

Seeing his name next to the CBR’s reigning bull of the year in Bossier really help motivate McConnel.

“When I knew I had Gold Buckle drawn, it was an opportunity and when I rode him and then went to the 12 man and drew Platinum Gold, that’s a bucker and that’s a good one to get back on,” remembered the younger of the professional bull riding brothers.

After a bull riding consultation with Sage Kimzey about the bucker from Championship Pro Rodeo, McConnel had a plan.

“Sage helped me a lot and said just wait on him, and don’t over move, let him come to you.”

He ended up not being as stout as usual but with the World Champ’s advice, McConnel was 85 points which was enough to advance him to his first final four shoot out round.

“I knew I would have Cowbanger, never seen him before and I thought to myself, I am going to take the fight to him and be the first one to crack him, I stubbed my toe and he bucked me off… won’t happen again, I promise you that,” finished McConnel.

The left hander who has ridden professionally since 2013 has completed each season with more than a 42 percent riding average. He is currently riding 60 percent within CBR competition. He covered six of the ten outs he faced and Tuff Hedeman’s Fort Worth CBR and El Paso were the only two events that he did not cover at least one bull.

The current Konawa, Oklahoma resident is also on a pro rodeo quest for 2016 as well and we might see McConnel bucking out from the CFD grandstand chutes during the pro rodeo as well while he is in Wyoming.

McConnel is a left handed rider but says it never mattered to him much. Keeping his father’s words close to his heart and head he describes his style as riding them jump for jump.

“My Dad taught us to ride either way and you gotta ride ‘em all,” said McConnel who lost his Dad a few months ago.

In 2012, the Bloomfield high school graduate was New Mexico’s High School Finals Champion, the National High School Finals Bull Riding Champion and the International Federation of Youth Rodeo Association Bull Riding Champion… proving his father’s words of wisdom to be true.

“I like tracking them bulls to see what they would do, but Dad was right, the advantage is if you can ride them both ways. Everyone I got on in Bossier was to the right and away from my hand and I still had to make it work,” laughed MConnel.

“When I got bucked off a couple here and there I would go home and think of what I did wrong and then start over on the “ride em all” program.

McConnel who says he doesn’t stay mad about a buck off, you are going to buck off the rank ones sometimes.

What do you like about the CBR?

“It seems really fair, you just ride your bulls and see where you fall.”

Definitely words of wisdom.


It’s All in the Family

Joseph is not the first McConnel (spelled with one L) to ride bulls in Cheyenne. Older brother Ryan has bucked out of the chutes on the revered ground there as well, but Joseph will be the first in his family to compete in the CBR World Finals at Cheyenne Frontier Days. He is not sure at time who will be attending with him, but he knows someone will!