Moffat County’s Troy Vernon captures National Little Britches Rodeo bull riding title |

Moffat County’s Troy Vernon captures National Little Britches Rodeo bull riding title

Ben Bulkeley

Troy Vernon became a world champion bull rider on July 30, when he finished first at the National Little Britches Rodeo in Pueblo. Vernon said he walks along the railings at his family's ranch in Maybell to hone his balance.

Troy Vernon can't remember the exact day he decided to climb on top of bull.

But, since he was 11 or 12 years old, he has lifted weights, ran miles, spent countless hours on top of practice bulls and walked on fence poles to be able to become a better bull rider.

And, at the National Little Britches Rodeo from July 25 to 30 in Pueblo, Vernon, 19, of Maybell, earned the right to say he was the best.

The 2009 Moffat County High School graduate finished first in bull riding, earning a prize saddle and belt buckle for his efforts.

In each of his three rides, Vernon was able to improve to keep his lead.

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"My first ride was a Mississippi bull," he said. "I didn't know what he would do."

But, Vernon introduced the Mississippi bull to a Colorado cowboy.

"He was a little nasty," he said. "He jumped six times and went right, which caught me off guard.

"I still rode him, though."

His first ride netted Vernon a score of 67.

His second bull was even better, Vernon said.

"I drew a good one," he said. "Right away, he spun left out of the chutes."

His second ride had a score of 74.

His third ride in the short go was his best.

"I got another good bull," he said. "He was bigger and he was jumping around."

His last ride earned Vernon a score of 75, and wrapped up his world title.

'Muscle memory'

Vernon has been stepped on and knocked out during his time trying to ride bulls.

He has strained, pulled and torn muscles to prove his dedication.

Vernon said he has ridden enough bulls that it has become second nature.

"You do it enough, and it builds up your muscle memory," he said. "You just let your mind go blank."

When he eases himself down on the animal while it waits in the chutes, his mind is lucid.

"You try to clear your head as much as possible," he said. "You think about how you want to be aggressive. You can't quit and you have to stay positive.

"I say to myself 'I can ride this bull, and I'll give it everything I've got.'"

While the sport is physically demanding, it's the mental aspect that can decide a good ride from an injury, Vernon said.

"It's 90 percent mental," he said. "You have to keep your head straight."

Paying off

For everything Vernon has given to the sport, it has started to repay him.

He has a full-ride athletic scholarship to Northwest College in Powell, Wyo.

This summer, he has been able to make money while competing in Professional Bull Riders Association rodeos.

"It's been fun," he said of his time on the PBRA circuit. "It's a whole different ballgame.

"You get money, and it's not just about the title."

For Maybell

Vernon said his rodeo hero is his grandfather, Darryl Steele.

With many other cowboys and cowgirls from Maybell having done well at rodeos before Vernon, he said he wanted to make sure he gave the younger generation a reason to keep the tradition alive.

"Most people who live here are my family," he said. "I just want to inspire them to keep riding and keep trying hard."

During his ride, Vernon said he was reminded of the work he has had to put in, and of his younger cousins who watch his every ride.

"It means a lot for me," he said. "This is something I have worked a lot for.

"I've come up short a few times. It felt like that work was paying off."

Results from the July 25 to 30 National Little Britches Rodeo in Pueblo:

Name Event Place

Casey Barnes

Bull riding 14

Breakaway roping 20

Goat tying 23

Flag racing 13

Ribbon roping 22

Team roping 28

Cutter Barnes

Breakaway roping 15

Goat tying 40

Flag racing 45

Ribbon roping 33

Team roping 28

All-around 44

Kasen Brennise

Breakaway roping 52

Goat tying 66

Flag racing 58

Team roping 13

All-around 85

Kinlie Brennise

Trail course 70

Pole bending 60

Breakaway roping 54

Barrel racing 2

Goat tying 81

All-around 42

Ian Duzik

Team roping 39

Mattie Jo Duzik

Ribbon roping 65

Trail course 36

Pole bending 64

Barrel racing 74

All-around 70

Taylor Duzik

Ribbon roping 65

Trail course 14

Breakaway roping 4

Goat tying 21

All-around 17

Gabbi Steele

Breakaway roping 51

Trail course 2

Pole bending T21

All-around 9

Jaidyn Steele

Ribbon roping 50

Trail course 58

Barrel racing 8

All-around 51

Denton Taylor

Breakaway roping 10

Goat tying 53

Flag racing 16

Ribbon roping 9

Team roping 15

All-around 16

Dusty Taylor

Breakaway roping 59

Goat tying 16

Flag racing 40

Ribbon roping 43

Team roping 15

All-around 41

Taylor Vernon

Team roping 39

Breakaway roping 19

Barrel racing 22

Goat tying 16

Trail course 22

Pole bending T21

All-around 14

Trent Vernon

Breakaway roping 8

Goat tying 8

Flag racing 8

Ribbon roping 50

Team roping 35

All-around 13

Troy Vernon

Bull riding 1

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