O’Mara Owns Much of the 2016 Road to Cheyenne

Louisiana has produced its fair share of great bull riders, 2012 CBR World Champion Josh Barentine,  2013 CBR World Champion Cole Echols, PBR World Champion Chris Shivers just to name a few. In three days the rodeo and bull riding world may see a third World Champion from the Cajun Country, Jacob O’Mara.

In the face of a non-alterable and daily life-threatening health challenge, Jacob O’Mara prevailed on Championship Bull Riding’s Road to Cheyenne, and is a key contender for the 2016 CBR World Championship. He arrives in Cheyenne as the No. 2 ranked bull rider of the 2016 regular season.

“I think every cowboy’s plan is to wear that gold buckle at the end of the year and if God willing and that’s where he wants me then I am dang sure going to give it my all,” said O’Mara about his wins and launching his CBR ambitions.

The Prairieville, Louisiana cowboy who turns twenty-five next month, optimized his bull riding career with an outstanding 2016 Road to Cheyenne performance. Topping the season off with the most event titles wins, three, O’Mara seemed to be unstoppable at times both on the CBR’s qualifying Horizon Series and the televised Road to Cheyenne.

In the CBR tournament style competition it is as important when you ride as how many times you ride, as a matter of fact it is much more important WHEN. In the final four man Shoot Out round the highest score wins the event and the majority of the prize purse.

After riding four bulls in the 2015 CBR World Finals, O’Mara’s first appearance on the CBR’s premier tour since 2011, he finished in the top ten for the event and 21st place in last year’s final World Standings.

But 2016 revealed a much different O’Mara narrative.

O’Mara competed in eleven CBR Road to Cheyenne tour events. He finished in the top four five times, including three wins; Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Lufkin, Texas, and Tuff Hedeman’s legendary Fort Worth Championship Challenge Bull Riding.  

“I was blessed this year. I haven’t had good health, momentum and consistency since my NFR year, 2011,” continued O’Mara.

O’Mara netted five 90-point plus rides scores and rode 18 out of 23 attempts for an average riding percentage of 78 percent for the 2016 CBR season, the highest among CBR competitors.

“Being healthy has a lot to do with my good season, taking care of your business at home, so when you show up you are prepared,” said Jacob.

Taking care of business at home is exactly what the Cajun bull rider did and that South Louisiana recipe resulted in one of the CBR’s highest average ride score for the season, an 88.13 within CBR competition.

If you ask Jacob O’Mara what bull he would like to draw in Cheyenne it’s probably a toss-up. Lyndal Hurst’s 3728 Yellowhair who carried him to two event championships this season and Jeri Harmon’s Karaoke, both assisted him (more than once) to the No. 2 ranking he holds for the CBR World Standings.

O’Mara covered the famous Karaoke of Jerilyn Harmon's Elite Bulls not once but twice, and both times for 90-point plus scores. But with a 78 percent ride average it is easier to list the bulls Jacob did not cover then the one’s he did.

“I like Karaoke because if you ride him you will be in the 90’s and if you stub your tow he will buck you off, but make no mistake he’s going to take you to the pay window if you ride him,” said O’Mara.

O’Mara’s highest marked sore of the season was 92, twice, and both on 3728 Yellowhair, but the high scores and the great bull rides don’t stop there.

“I knew I had to step up and pick him to seal the deal... I was going for Yellowhair all along, he’s big and I like them that way, I can get a hold of them when they are big, I have wanted to draw him for a while,” said Jacob after winning Rio Rancho on Yellowhair.

On the list of bulls he would probably like another shot at is Jared Allen’s 108 Admiral Bull, 107 Jailhouse Socks, and 231 Big Baby, who he is 1 for 2 on, and 1229 Final Hour.

“Rawson’s Jailhouse Socks is one I would like a rematch. My hand came out of my rope, I felt like I had him gathered up, so I’d like another shot at him. ”

But as solid as O’Mara’s stats are, what you don’t see is the most amazing component of O’Mara’s season. While most modern day bull riders work out, stay in shape, and eat right to optimize their health as a professional athlete, Jacob has a much more challenging aspect of staying healthy… He is an insulin dependent Type I diabetic.

According to the American Diabetes Association, intense exercise has unique effects on insulin release and management of competitive athletes with diabetes and presents far different challenges than those typically encountered in routine patient care. The demands of training and competition, the goals of the athlete, factors related to sports participation all can affect glucose homeostasis and not only diet has to be adjusted but for the safety of athletic participation, the diabetic must monitor closely and adjust to allow safe and effective athletic performance.

How does he handle his condition?

“The professional cowboy lifestyle is to go go go on the road, grabbing stuff to eat. It’s really important to me that I could get solid healthy meals in. Different start times at different rodeos put you eating at different times during the day to try and stabilize. It is imperative to eat so I always have snacks in the riggin’ bag and I eat a really big meal two hours before my ride. I also have to test my blood sugar before I ride to make sure I am good to go,” explained O’Mara.

At the CBR’s because you advance during a two hour event, Jacob checks his blood sugar before each round to assure its stable before getting on.

 “People don’t realize what I have to do to push thru that and I have to dig deep to get thru it sometimes,” added O’Mara. I have been a Type 1 diabetic since I was eleven years old.

That being said it should be remembered that it is obvious that the determination and specific goals of a bull rider like Jacob O’Mara far outweigh the blood glucose control and avoidance of complications.

O’Mara has never let the diabetes control his life or his dreams.

Jacob won round three of the 2011 National Finals Rodeo and placed in three other rounds. He is a former National High School Finals Rodeo contender where he finished 5th in 2008. He also won the IFYRA Bull Riding title in Shawnee Oklahoma that same year and was the 2008 Louisiana High School Champion Bull Rider. He finished second in the PRCA Rookie competition in 2010.


It’s All in the Family

One difference Jacob will experience at this year’s CBR World Final is his marital status. He and Kortlin Radley O’Mara will travel to Cheyenne together where Jacob’s Dad, Reggie will join him. Mom and brother Casey, also a bull rider, will be cheering him on from the “Boot” as they say in Louisiana.

Missing from inside the chutes and the road-trip car will be his brother in law Koby Radley, the 2016 CBR Horizon Series Bull Riding year end Champion who was injured at the IFYR and then again in the practice pen recently and was forced to withdraw from his first CBR World Finals to recover.

“He doesn’t want to miss it, we wanted to finish the year like we started, together as a family so he’s flying up with a cast on his hand and his shoulder in a sling to support me.”