Casper going to National Finals Rodeo

Thursday, August 23, 2007
Professional bareback rider Bo Casper, competing at Caldwell, Idaho in 2006. Submitted photo

Professional bareback rider Bo Casper, a Fort Scott Community College graduate, is on his way to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Born in Oklahoma and raised in Arkansas, Casper was not raised in a rodeo family, but that did not stop his interest in rodeos from bucking him into a successful bareback riding career, he said. When he was a child, a friend of Bo's became interested in bull riding after visiting a relative for the summer. When the summer was over, Casper's friend returned home excited about bull riding. His excitement soon spread to Casper. The boys began riding steers in the amateur rodeo, he said.

"It was our heart and grit that made us stick with it," he said.

Casper said his parents were horrified when, at the age of 12, their son was injured while riding a bull. They forbade Bo from riding bulls anymore, because they did not want him to get hurt again, he said.

Later, at 16, Casper decided to try bareback riding. He reasoned that bareback riding would be safer than saddleback, because with bareback riding there would be no saddle for his feet to get tangled up inside should he find himself bucked off, he said.

Though Casper was successful while competing in the amateur rodeos during high school, he attributes much of his improvement to the instruction he received during his years (1999-2002) of participation in the Fort Scott Community College's rodeo program, he said. Fort Scott Community College Rodeo Coach Chad Cross taught Casper the fundamentals of rodeo riding in addition to instilling the positive attitude required to achieve success, Casper said.

"Coach didn't try to change my style. He worked with it," Casper said.

While in college, Casper's bareback riding talent flourished. After many hours of hard work, he began to polish his riding skills, which helped him to place eighth in the world at the college finals, he said.

Casper said that the success he experienced during his college rodeo days and the support of his parents and his wife gave him the confidence to venture into the professional rodeo circuit. Casper also attributes his success to someone else. From the age of 16, he has been on a spiritual journey. During this period of his life, he had the misfortune of being involved in a couple of car wrecks. Casper needed someone to look after him and protect him, he said.

"I definitely need a guardian angel and the good Lord on my side. That's for sure," he said.

He said that God has slowly been molding him into a mature leader instead of a follower. About four years ago, Casper made the decision to publicly give praise to God for his safety and success, he said.

When asked what inconveniences accompany his career as a bareback rider, Casper immediately expressed his sadness at being away from his wife, Katie, and daughter, Mesa, so often. Though Bo spends much time on the road traveling to and from events, he said it is worth it.

"Don't quit until you accomplish your dreams," Casper said.

Casper clings to the principals taught by his coach during college. Cross taught Casper that "if your going to be a bear, be a grizzly bear," he said.

When Casper was asked to explain what this saying means to him, he said if he wants something, he can't go after it half-heartedly. He must be aggressive. According to Casper, everything begins with a positive mental concept of the outcome.

According to Cross, there are many people who do the same jobs, but there are only a select few who "go all the way," he said. To be the grizzly bear, one must be the best that one can be, letting nothing get in the way of success. A positive attitude is crucial, he said.

Currently, Casper has an excellent chance of occupying one of the top 15 bareback rider slots at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Casper said. Cross explained that this specific rodeo is an elite rodeo.

"It is the Super Bowl of rodeos," Cross said.

When asked his opinion of Casper's possible entry in the national finals, Cross expressed no reservations about his former student's success.

"I have no doubt that he will make it," he said.

Casper has worked diligently through the years to attain his dream, but even though Casper is a successful professional bareback rider, Cross does not think Casper's career choice is what makes Bo prosperous, he said.

"Everybody is thinking, 'What a great bareback rider,' but his personality is bigger than bareback riding. He will do well with whatever he does," Cross said.