In the last three years, Mike Outhier (Utopia, Texas) has solidified his place as one of the sport's elite saddle bronc riders. He's qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo twice and is ranked 12th in the 2003 Jack Daniel's World Standings.
A solid performance at the $500,000 Pace Picante ProRodeo Challenge in Dallas (Nov. 7-9) will sew up a third trip to Las Vegas, where the sport's best will vie for a record $5 million in prize money.
His ability to spur saddle broncs, though, is only part of the talent of this 26-year-old cowboy, who with wife, Kristy, and 13-month-old daughter, Madison, live about 90 miles from San Antonio.
He's a pretty good all-around hand, having succeeded in every event at some time during his high school, college and pro careers.
"As a kid I always roped," Outhier said. "I roped at all the junior rodeos with a lot of the guys who are at the Finals each year, like Jerome [Schneeberger], Blair [Burk] and Trevor [Brazile]. Rope is all I did when I was young. As I got older, I started riding all three roughstock events and still roped. I don't think I'm going to ride anymore bulls, though."
Outhier finished second in the all-around race at the National High School Finals Rodeo in 1994, the same year he won the Oklahoma state high school all-around, bareback riding and saddle bronc riding titles.
As a professional, Outhier (1998 Resistol Rookie of the Year) has concentrated on saddle bronc riding, but he's dabbled some in the other events.
Recently at a rodeo in Laredo, Texas, Outhier won money in the tie-down roping and bareback riding. His goal was to earn enough cash to win the prestigious Linderman Award.
The Linderman Award is presented each year to the cowboy who many consider rodeo's best all-around athlete. To qualify for consideration, a contestant must win at least $1,000 in each of three events, including a roughstock and timed event. The award is named for Bill Linderman, a world champion in timed and riding events who died in a 1965 plane crash near Salt Lake City.
Outhier finished fourth in tie-down roping in Laredo, winning $217. Unfortunately, he needed $46 more to get to the $1,000 plateau.
He sits with $52,017 in saddle bronc riding, $1,307 in bareback riding and $954 in tie-down roping.
"I had to do it in Laredo because I didn't enter anything else," Outhier said. "I missed-strung my calf twice there so that's my own fault."
Next year, Outhier plans to start his quest for the Linderman Award earlier and maybe devote considerable time and effort to bareback riding. In 2003, he entered four rodeos in the bareback riding and placed each time.
"I'd like to win it [Linderman] a couple of times before I'm done," he said.
Competing in multiple events keeps things interesting for Outhier. During the annual San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo, dozens of cowboys stay with him. Many of his bronc riding friends hold their own little roping competition at his house.
"Steve Dollarhide [a contestant in Dallas] really heels well," Outhier said. "Justen Washburn ropes good. We have a friendly little match."
At the San Antonio rodeo, Outhier enters team roping, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and tie-down roping. A big bonus is the driving force.
In Dallas, though, Outhier will focus strictly on saddle bronc riding. In three previous finale qualifications, Outhier has won just $2,200. "It's my time I hope," Outhier said.
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