Since the first time he watched a rodeo, Jake Davis has always wanted to ride bulls. Now, he will get to ride on a national stage.
The Elma High School sophomore and McCleary resident won the saddle bronc and bareback competitions and placed third in bull riding at the Washington State High School Rodeo Association finals rodeo on May 26. Davis’ points totals were good enough to win him the title of All-around cowboy and he was also named Rookie of the Year. Most importantly, he earned a spot in the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyoming on July 13 through July 19.
The NHSFR is the world’s largest rodeo as it features more than 1,500 contestants from 42 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia.
It is the pinnacle for a young cowboy who began riding roughstock just two years ago. He may not come from a long line of rodeo cowboys or broke his way into the sport on sheep and calf riding, but Davis has been dreaming about bulls for almost all his life.
“When he was little, everything in the house was a bull,” Davis’ mother, Gloria Davis said. “The arms of the couch, the chairs, the rocking horse was a bull. The week before the Elma rodeo and the week after he would have a rodeo in the living room with all the kids. They all had to run barrels. They all had to ride bucking horses. They all had to ride bulls.”
There was no turning his mind away from his passion. In the seventh and eighth grade, every paper he wrote was about some aspect of bull riding. Even when he was supposed to be learning about other subjects, his mind wandered.
“At school, when we were doing assignments on the computer, I wouldn’t do my work, I would look at bull riding,” Davis said with a shy grin.
After what Jake claims was 14 years of begging his parents for permission to ride, his mother said they were ready to waive a white flag. She added, “Finally we said ‘If you buy your own gear, the vest, the helmet, you can do it.’ It wasn’t two months later, we were down at the Hermiston horse sale and one of the vendors had a vest so there was no turning back then.”
He snapped up the vest for $250, his sister bought him a helmet and he worked to get everything else he needed from ropes to chaps. Then finally he was ready to ride and he hoped up on a bull for the first time at 14 years old.
“I rode my first three,” Davis said. “Just a natural I guess.”
Last year, he competed in the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association during the summer and came away with a fourth place finish in the standings for bull riding, before begining competition with the Washington State High School Rodeo Association during the fall. Davis competed in all eight of the rodeos in the fall and all eight in the spring traveling all over the state with the closest rodeo being held in Roy. The sophomore earned 42 points in the bull riding competition to finish third behind first place at 81 points and second at 63 points. Despite the fact that he picked up bareback riding almost a year after bull riding, Davis ran away with the competition for bareback with 129 points, almost 100 more than second place.
This spring, Davis began saddle bronc riding for the first time and despite only having about 16 tries under his belt, he took home the first place buckle for saddle bronc as well.
While Davis was almost supprised as anyone that he came away with enough points to win the all-around saddle for the 2013-14 season, his most prized of the five buckles he returned with is the one emblazened rookie of the year. Davis said the rookie buckle is so special because he will only have two more chances to win one in his career if he continues in pro rodeo while he will have several chances to add to his collection of 16 buckles with other events.
While the trip to Rock Springs will be the first time Davis has ventured out of Washington or Oregon, he hopes to make several trips back to Wyoming in the years to come as he pursues a full-time career in rodeo.
“I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little kid,” Davis said. “Growing up watching it and being around rodeo, I’ll do it as long as I can and then after I can’t anymore I’m going to stock contract.”