Josi Bishop of Westby is headed for the 2018 National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyoming, July 15-21. This will be Bishop’s second trip at the high school level and she admits she is addicted to the sport and continually motivated to get better.
“Competing is such a rush! I am always trying to improve my own times because even if I beat my own personal best time in an events, it doesn’t guarantee that I will win the go round,” Bishop said.
At Nationals, Bishop will compete in three events, goat tying, barrel racing, and breakaway roping. Bishop earned her trip to Nationals competing in Richland Center at the Wisconsin High School Rodeo Finals on June 13-15.
At State, Bishop was the defending goat tying champion and repeated her top finish again this year. She was also crowned the state barrel racing champion, an event she placed fourth in in 2017. She also advanced in breakaway roping placing second at Richland Center. The top four finishers in the state rodeo finals earn the chance to compete at Nationals.
The National High School Rodeo will feature more than 1,650 contestants from 43 states, with all contestants competing for $200,000 in prizes and $350,000 in scholarships. In order to earn prizes or scholarships contestants must place in the top 20, based on their combined scores in the first two rounds in order to advance to the finals on Saturday, July 21.
Bishop has been competing in the Wisconsin Rodeo Association circuit since sixth grade and has been riding horses since the age of six. Her rodeo skills have earned her National participation for the past four years, first in junior high and now at the high school level.
From May through October, Bishop spends almost every weekend participating in a rodeo somewhere in the state.
Bishop has two horses, Cisco and Rocky, that she uses for competition. To her they are not just horses, but are more like a part of the family and definitely an important part of her life.
“Rocky and Cisco both have amazing personalities, and they are super nice to run. I love taking them to the rodeos, they are like best friends,” Bishop said.
Cisco is 14 years old and Bishop’s horse of choice for breakaway roping and goat tying, which is her favorite event, although she enjoys them all.
In goat tying, the goat is tied to a stake with a rope 10 feet in length, with starting line 100 feet from the stake. Mounted on Cisco she rides from the starting line to the goat, dismounts, throws the goat by hand and must tie any three legs together with a leather thong or pigging string.
Time is called when Bishop stands back with hands raised and if the goat remains tied for six seconds after she raises her hands then her time is registered.
“ I love goat tying because it is always different. I am in control of everything I can do in that event, and you have to react to what the goat does on the spot. It is so rewarding just like any other event,” Bishop said.
In breakaway roping, each rope is tied to Cisco’s saddle horn with string and Bishop rides after the calf throwing the rope loop over the calf’s head. As Bishop pulls closer, the running calf breaks the string and the rope falls free from the saddle horn. A white flag must be attached to the rope at the saddle horn so the judge can tell when the rope breaks free. Time is called when judge drops his flag. In order for it to be a legal catch the ropes must be released from Bishop’s hand and Cisco, the calf must clear the box before loop is thrown. If not, a 10-second fine for broken barrier is assessed.
Rocky is 13 years old and Bishop’s ride for barrel racing. In the event Bishop is allowed running start and her time begins as soon as the Rocky’s nose reaches the starting line and is stopped when his nose crosses the finish line. Bishop must run barrels in cloverleaf pattern, starting at either side. A five-second penalty is assessed to her score for each barrel knocked down.
Bishop rides her horses daily in the summer and 5-6 times a week when school is in session. She keeps the horses in condition sorting and tracking cattle on the farm, practices roping from the ground on a bale of hay and tying the family goats every day.
“I spend time with the horses whether I am riding them, feeding them, or simply taking care of them. They are athletes, and they deserve the best care I can provide,” Bishop said.
To aid the process, the family built an arena on the farm several years ago, plus the Bishop family has been very fortunate to have some wonderful horse-minded individuals help them over the years.
In the beginning Bishop’s first goal was simply to qualify for Nationals, but with years of experience under her belt, she is yearning for more.
“The competition is hard at Nationals. It includes the top competitors from each state, so to make the short go, you have to be fast in both rounds. I would love to make it back to the short round in any of my events, but no matter what I just want to lay down some nice times for all of my runs,” Bishop said.
Bishop added that she has been blessed with some wonderful people in my life, including a very supportive family.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for all of their support. Rodeo is a time consuming and expensive sport and I could not do it without them all,” Bishop said.
The National High School Rodeo Association is one of the fastest growing youth organizations, with an annual membership of approximately 12,500 students from 42 states, five Canadian provinces, and Australia. The Association sanctions over 1,800 rodeos each year.
Good Luck Josi at the 2018 National High School Finals Rodeo. Make Westby Proud!