Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer and two-time world champion Dee Pickett gave nephew Bo Pickett some surprising advice when he started talking about pursuing a career in rodeo.
“At first he said, ‘Don’t do it,’ ” Bo said. “He said, ‘You’re gonna be broke. You’re not gonna be very happy.’ But when it’s in your blood, you’ve got to do it.”
Bo didn’t heed his uncle’s advice, and neither have two of his cousins. The 20-year-old tie-down roper and cousins Ringo and Rainy Robinson all competed in the 83rd annual Caldwell Night Rodeo this week.
On Thursday night, Bo and his 11-year-old palomino mare Hollywood ended up with a time of 20.5 seconds after receiving a penalty for breaking the barrier early. His cousins didn’t have much better luck Wednesday, as Ringo failed to record a time in steer wrestling and Rainy placed sixth in barrel racing with a time of 17.81. None of the three will take part in Saturday’s championship round.
The off night won’t change Bo’s mind about rodeo, though.
“Win or lose, you’re gonna learn something. That’s just kind of what I’ve got to take from tonight,” he said. “I might have got in a little too much of a hurry. It’s hard to win at your hometown rodeo. You’ve just got to keep moving. I can’t get too discouraged or put my head down about this one.”
A 2015 Homedale High graduate, Bo won the second go-round of tie-down roping for Hill College (Texas) at the College National Finals Rodeo in June in Casper, Wyo.
I just picked up a rope when I was probably 9 or 10 and told my parents that’s what I was gonna do. No one forced me to do it. No one even told me to do it. I wanted to do it.
Bo Pickett, on how he became a tie-down roper
But he said he’s putting college aside to focus on rodeo.
“I always knew I was going to rodeo, basically for a living, since I kind of started,” Bo said. “... It ain’t gonna be easy, but there’s plenty of guys that do it.”
While his parents weren’t initially thrilled that Bo wanted to pursue a full-time rodeo career, they have been nothing but supportive. Rich and Rhonda Pickett helped Bo build an arena at their home, and Rich even got back into rodeo because of his son’s enthusiasm. The father-son duo team rope together occasionally.
“They have sacrificed a lot to allow me to rodeo,” Bo said. “Both of them have helped me practice countless times, got me out of slumps mentally and are 150 percent in my corner.”
Despite being related to rodeo royalty, the grind of the rodeo circuit is no different for Bo.
He started the week by competing in slack for the Caldwell Night Rodeo on Monday night. He was then in Lynden, Wash., on Tuesday, Canby, Ore., on Wednesday and the CNR again on Thursday.
He made stops in Moses Lake, Wash., on Friday morning and Heppner, Ore., on Friday night.
“It’s just a deal where you have to go, and you win when you win,” Bo said. “You kind of learn how to win, and you’re not always going to be first. You just kind of have to keep going, because one week you could go and be in the hole $5,000 and the next week you could go and make $15,000.
“It’s kind of a gamble and a lot of people don’t like that, so that’s why a lot of guys get their 9-to-5 and get their paycheck every two weeks. But there’s a lot of guys that don’t. They rodeo for a living.”
Dee Pickett was one of those cowboys. He won world championships in team roping and the all-around in 1984. He was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2003.
“He’s been awesome,” Bo said of his uncle. “He obviously helps me with the mental side of it. This is a big mental game, and then he’ll help me with my horses.”
Bo knows there’s no guarantee he’ll reach the pinnacle of the sport like his uncle, but that’s just part of the allure.
“He told me it’s not always going to be the bright lights and fun times, and I know that,” Bo said. “But at the end of the day, he did make a living at it.”
If you go
What: 83rd annual Caldwell Night Rodeo
When: 6:30 p.m. junior rodeo, 7:45 p.m. opening ceremonies Saturday
Where: Arena adjacent to Simplot Stadium in Caldwell
Tickets: $25 general admission