QHS senior discovers a passion for rodeo
Quincy’s Tom Workinger starred in the High School Rodeo Competition in Longview, Wash., last month, winning first place in all-around bronc riding.
The QHS senior says he only picked up the sport this summer, when he attended a Rodeo Bible Camp north of Oroville “and I just fell in love with it.”
He had attended that Rodeo Bible Camp and had tried roping and bulldogging, but never bareback bronc riding.
Workinger said he prepared for the competition by practicing his feet movements on a spur board and by watching video.
“You watch the rider and how his feet stay on the horse and what his upper body does, kind of watch it like a football player would study film,” he said. Feet placement is everything, he added.
“If you don’t keep your feet set and strong, that horse will throw you,” he said.
Despite his status as a first-timer, Workinger said bronc riding wasn’t scary at all. The competition was pretty stiff, he said, and added that he got lucky with a good horse.
“I did work for it a lot, but I guess that at this level, what helps you win or lose is the horse you draw, and I got a really good horse, so I got more points than the other guy.”
The horse, named Mule Face, bucked hard and made it hard to stay on, Workinger said.
“The harder the horse, the harder it is to stay on, and that gives you more points,” he added, noting that he scored a 73 out of 100 possible points.
Workinger has kept on riding since his win at Longview, scheduling competitions in Ritzville, Walla Walla and Othello.
The goal for this year is to finish among the top four in the state to qualify for nationals. The season stops after Walla Walla before resuming in the spring. Nationals is in June of 2019.
At the high school level, riders don’t get paid, but Workinger hopes to keep advancing until he becomes a pro.
“It’s all in the people,” he said, explaining his attraction to the sport. “Everybody helps each other out, and help each other get better.”
A baseball player in the spring, Workinger said he would “definitely” pick rodeo if given a choice.
“I’m the first one in my family to actually rodeo, but everybody in my family has worked with horses,” he said. “They are really supportive.”
They are also a little worried about Workinger’s safety, “but they know it’s something I really want to do, he said. He’s had a few bumps and bruises but nothing worse than that yet.
The pain factor varies, depending on the surface of the arena and the weather.
A wet surface like Longview’s makes for a softer fall.
But then, you always get back up. At least, that’s the hope.
“If you want to know the truth, my biggest fear is getting injured so bad that I won’t be able to get back on again,” he said. “That’s the thing that really scares me because I want to keep doing this for a long time.”
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org