NAMPA — When it came time for Roscoe Jarboe to decide on one of his two loves — wrestling or bull riding — it was a broken back during his freshman year at New Plymouth High School in 2011 that paved the way for his future career.
And it wasn’t the direction one might expect.
“The doctor said as crazy as it sounds bull riding is probably your best option,” Jarboe said with a chuckle. “There’s not near as much stress doing that compared to if you are wrestling or playing football.”
Fast forward a decade and Jarboe is one of the top professional bull riders in the world at just 25 years old. He’s qualified for the National Finals Rodeo four times in the past five years and has finished ranked in the top 10 in the world in four of the past five years.
Saturday night his journey brought him back home to compete in the finals of the Snake River Stampede Rodeo in front of a number of family and friends at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.
“I always enjoy coming back to town,” Jarboe said. “It’s pretty cool to have people here watching you that you know and getting to talk to them afterwards. … It’s one of the best rodeos of the year, so it’s always nice to do good in front of your home crowd.”
Jarboe is coming off one of his best years as a professional. He finished No. 6 in the world in 2020 and brought home $177,609 in earnings.
He was off to another great start in 2021 and ranked No. 6 on June 8 when he suffered a torn groin while riding a bull at a rodeo in Weatherford, Texas. The pain was one thing, but knowing he’d miss some time and be unable to make any money was the bigger result.
“It was one of those freak deals,” Jarboe said. “I had too much pressure on side of my body and the groin decided to pull. As soon as it happened I knew what it was. There wasn’t much pain — it was more of an annoyance. I just had to rest, let it heal and strengthen it back up.”
As painful as a torn groin sounds, it’s nowhere near the list of worst injuries he’s suffered while riding a bull. Jarboe has broken his back twice, broken his pelvis, torn a tendon off his pelvis from his groin and even broken bones in his face.
“Luckily nothing ever that I did needed surgery though,” he said, “so I’ve been pretty fortunate.”
The question with bull riders is always the same: What makes one crazy enough to make a living out of trying to ride a 2,000-pound bull for eight seconds? For Jarboe, he grew up in a rodeo family and started riding bulls at a young age. He realized pretty quickly he was decent.
“Just like any other sport or athlete, I felt like it came easy to me,” Jarboe said. “I did have to work at it when I started but once I figured it out it was just something I excelled in. It’s no different than a football player if they are good and if they keep their head straight they go to the NFL and make a living. We’re no different than those guys.”
He stopped wrestling and playing football at New Plymouth after his freshman year to let his back heal and begin focusing on bull riding. The same year he graduated in 2014, he earned a PRCA permit and competed in a limited of pro events — winning the Horse Heaven Round-Up in Kennewick, Washington. He earned $20,058 that year at the age of 18.
In his first full year on tour in 2016 he was named the PRCA Rookie of the Year for Bull Riding after finishing No. 9 in the world with earnings of $149,765.
He finished No. 9 again in 2017 before ending 2018 ranked No. 6 in the world after earning $213,801. Injuries limited him some in 2020 and he ranked No. 28 after making just $52,025.
But he rebounded with an impressive 2020 and was rolling again this year, ranking 6th with four wins in 2021 — at the Parada Del Sol in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Liberty National Xtreme Bulls in Lawton, Oklahoma, the Helotes Festival Rodeo in Texas and the Northern Most Xtreme Bull Riding in America in Palmer, Alaska — prior to being sidelined with the groin injury.
The worst part of past six weeks wasn’t the physical therapy or the pain. It was not seeing any deposits in the checking account.
“It doesn’t sit well with you when you see your name drop further and further down the standings, so I was itching pretty much right way to get back at it,” Jarboe said.
He returned this week to riding at a rodeo in Spanish Fork, Utah, before a ride of 84.5 points on Friday night at the Snake River Stampede qualified him for Saturday’s finals. He didn’t record a qualifying score Saturday, but he still finished in fifth place.
Jarboe currently sits 18th in the world with earnings of $44,239.12 — not bad despite having six weeks off.
“Yeah but I don’t want to stay there,” Jarboe said. “We’re going to start pushing it.”
He’s finished in the top 10 four times and has made more than $750,000 in career earnings despite only being 25 years old.
But he’s yet to do the one thing he set out to do as a kid — win it all.
“I’m still pushing to be No. 1,” Jarboe said. “I haven’t done that yet so I’m still working for it. Everybody wants to be the world champion. I know I can (do it).”
Now that he’s healthy his schedule is crazy moving forward as he looks to make up for lost time. He’s got rodeos in Billings, Montana, Loveland, Colorado, Great Falls, Montana, Idaho Falls and Jerome all in the next two weeks.
But Friday and Saturday were all about being at home and competing in front of those who know him best. And although he didn’t have the finals ride he had hoped for, Jarboe knows plenty of good days are ahead.
“It just comes down to drawing good bulls and riding good,” Jarboe said.
Easier said than done. But the New Plymouth native has done it plenty.
Jeff Askey won the bull riding title after a 90-point ride atop Wicked Sensation during Saturday’s finals. … Caleb Bennett and Jamie Howlett tied for the bareback riding title with combined scores of 174.5. … Cody Cabral and Curtis Cassidy tied for the Steer Wrestling crown with a final combined time of 12.3 seconds. … Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves won the team roping title with a time of 13.5 seconds. … Ryder Wright won the saddle bronc championship with an aggregate score of 177. … Hunter Herrin won the tie down roping crown with a time of 26 seconds on three. … Kelly Bruner won the barrel racing title with a time of 33.23 seconds.