Neil Holmes... Never Give Up, Never Give In

Bull Riding is a game of persistence.  Those who succeed work hard, believe in themselves, and most importantly NEVER GIVE UP.

This statement was written about the man in the No. 19 position on the CBR World Finals roster, thirty-year-old, Neil Holmes of Houston, Texas, after his CBR World Finals Average win in 2014.

Neil Holmes, a rider known to “leave it all out there” won the average on his first trip to Cheyenne and although it was his first trip to the CBR Finals held at Cheyenne Frontier Days, he has been on tour with CBR since 2009.

A proud Alumni and owner of an Agriculture-Business Degree from Praire View A&M in Houston, Texas, Holmes is equipped with drive, determination and a will to succeed that will no doubt serve him well for his third trip to Cheyenne for the CBR World Finals. 

Neil Holmes’ 2016 Road to Cheyenne was less consistent than that in years past. Hip hopping through the multiple association’s bull riding draws, Holmes stays on the road most of the year but only made it to six CBR events.

His best year bull riding year, statistically, was 2013 when he rode 52 percent of the bulls he mounted. He has hovered between 40 percent and 50 since reaching that high two years ago. Holmes has won 43 go rounds in bull riding competitions and nineteen 90 point plus ride scores. 

“Bull Riding is only temporary, just a chapter in your life,” Holmes once told me during an interview and he may have developed that quote after one of the worst wrecks at a CBR in Huron in 2010 when he suffered a cracked pelvis.

“They actually thought I was dead in the arena,” said Holmes. “I don’t really remember much of it and I was supposed to take more time off than I did.”

Even after he was physically okay to ride bulls he remembers fighting his head with every move the bull made.

“Anyone that has ever suffered from injury knows how hard it is to make a comeback,” continued Holmes. After months of trying to preserve himself for the next ride he decided just to put it all out there and give each ride 100 percent. It was at that moment Holmes career trajectory changed.


What Did You Say?

"It’s not the mountain to climb that wears you out, it’s the pebble in your shoe,” said Neil Holmes reciting his favorite quote from the champion, Muhammad Ali. Neil Holmes, a seven year veteran bull rider of Championship Bull Riding, lives by that quote.

He thrives in pressurized high-octane environments, drawing inspiration from the men who have gone before him.

“The ability to get advice and tips from guys like Tuff Hedeman and Don Gay is like a basketball player having a pickup game with Michael Jordan,” said Holmes after his first year in Cheyenne.

On this year’s Road to Cheyenne televised tour, Holmes appeared in two final four Shoot Outs placing 4th both in Las Vegas and El Paso. He made five qualified rides and was entered in six events. His highest marked ride was 89.5 on Final Judgement in El Paso. He finished seventh in last year’s World Standings.

Holmes best finish was in 2014 where he ended the season as the number 4 bull rider with 1,164 points. Riding four of the five bulls he mounted at the CBR World Finals in Cheyenne, including being the first to cover Cory Melton’s Crimson King for 92.5, he earned  the title of CBR World Finals Event Champion.

His other year-end finishes include 39th in 2009; 17th in 2010; 24th in 2011; 2012-13 not in the top 40; 4th in 2014; 7th in 2015. He enters Cheyenne as the second most tenured rider behind former CBR World Champion Cole Echols.


It’s All in the Family

This five foot six inch one-hundred and forty pound bull rider has had a little help along the way from family and what he calls his family of friends.

He looks up to his mom Linda. “I admire her strength and adversity and without it I probably wouldn’t be giving you this interview now,” he replied on the other end of the line.

Every Easter, Neil and his mother would go watch their local rodeo. This event sparked Neil’s interest in bull riding and he eventually decided to give it a try when he was in high school- on the sly. “I would sneak off to go practice and got hurt one time and needed stiches. Mom found out.”

During that time, Neil met Craig Jackson and CBR World Finals Qualifier, Jonathan Brown at some local rodeos where the two instantly clicked and have been close friends ever since. They travel together when they can.

Neil’s appreciativeness of his entire support system is evident as he tries to thank everyone. “I don’t want to start the name game and leave someone out, but Lyndal Hurst was able to get me invited to my first CBR event in Bossier City. Ever since then he’s given me a helping hand every chance he could.”

In addition to Hurst helping Holmes along the way, getting on bulls in Orchard has made a better bull rider out of Neil.

Billy Jaynes shared, “Neil’s ability to block out fear, and ability to GO FOR IT no matter the cost is what sets him apart. What he lacks in ability he makes up with effort.”


“Outside of the arena, I’d like to become a better man and better father. I hope I’m not remembered just for my bull riding, but for the guy I am. I try to be a standup guy in and out of the arena” -- Neil Holmes.