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Riding legend made it look easy

By Brett Hoffman | Published Wednesday, November 21, 2018
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The PBR celebrated its 25th anniversary throughout the Nov. 7-11 World Finals at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association will celebrate the 60th edition of the National Finals Rodeo Dec. 6-15 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

One of the best of all of the competitors who rode in both the PBR and the PRCA is the legendary Jim Sharp, who grew up in Kermit and lives near Stephenville. He was in Las Vegas earlier this month to attend the 2018 PBR World Finals.

When he was in his prime during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Sharp made bull riding look easy. A two-time world champion, Sharp was interviewed by reporters about his amazing natural ability to ride bulls. Out of the numerous interviews that I conducted with Sharp, the best thing I ever heard him say about his riding came in 2010, when he was inducted into the PBR’s Ring of Honor.

“I could ride a rank bull and it was like I could eat a sandwich while I was up there,” Sharp said.

He was not bragging. That’s just the way it was. He was a quiet, taciturn cowboy whose actions spoke very loudly in the arena.

The numbers Sharp put up were astounding. His first big move toward legend was in 1988 when he became the first cowboy to stay on all 10 bulls at the NFR. Today, Sharp (1988), Norman Curry (1990) and Adriano Moraes (1994) are the only members of the Perfect 10 Club.

Sharp, who competed through the early 2000s, was a big star in the PRCA. He also was among 20 cowboys who helped found the PBR, which has become the toughest and most lucrative circuit for rodeo’s headline and most dangerous event.

Sharp won PRCA world titles in 1988 and 1990. He displayed a smooth riding style at the beginning of his pro career that made riding bulls look easier than it actually was.

“Back in the 1980s, when I was in my prime, I would ride rank bulls and it would be easy,” Sharp said.

But as Sharp got older, riding rank bulls became more challenging.

“When I had that great year in 2002 in the PBR, I rode some rank bulls, but it was like every jump, I could be gone. It became harder for me and I really had to bear down,” he said.

His scores sometimes suffered because it didn’t look all that challenging for him.

“Jim fooled us who traveled with him,” said seven-time world all-around champion Ty Murray. “I’d watch Jim ride a bull one week, and I’d have the same bull two weeks later and I would think the bull was way nicer than what he actually was. I’d think he’s just another bull that turns back to the left. But then, I’d get on him and he’d slam my right ear into the ground.”

A TOUGH LOSS

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are very tough for those who have recently lost close family members and loved ones. Some struggle with deaths of loved ones during their birthdays and throughout the holidays for a long time.

A recent story appeared on prorodeo.com that immediately brings a surge of feelings of grief even if there is no relationship with the family:

The tragic story went as follows:

“A newlywed couple leaving their wedding ceremony in a helicopter died early Nov. 4 when the helicopter crashed, according to a report from The Houstonian.

Will Byler, his wife, Bailee Ackerman Byler, and their pilot died in the crash, according to the Houstonian, the student newspaper for Sam Houston State University.

Byler, a steer wrestler, was on his PRCA permit. He was 23. Bailee Ackerman was one of the top three flag girls from the NFR flag competition last year and was set to join the flag team this year at the WNF. Ackerman also was 23.

During this holiday season and beyond, condolences to the Byler and Ackerman families and those who are dealing with the pain of the loss of beloved family members ones and close friends.

CUTTING HORSE UPDATE

The National Cutting Horse Association World Championship Futurity, which is the sport’s premier show, began Thursday and runs through Dec. 9 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth. The Futurity features the sport’s most promising debuting 3-year-old horses. The Dec. 9 open division finals is the first jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series. The other two jewels are the April Super Stakes and the July/August Summer Spectacular. All three jewels are in Fort Worth.

The NCHA World Finals for open division and non-pro division competitors, which is held in conjunction with the Futurity, is Nov. 23, Nov. 24, Nov. 29 and Dec. 1 at Watt Arena. The Careity Celebrity Cutting is Nov. 30 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. For information, visit nchacutting.com.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades.

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