Joel Reichenberger: Bull riding takes a back seat | SteamboatToday.com

Joel Reichenberger: Bull riding takes a back seat

— By rodeo time, Jake Booco was able to compete a little more at ease.

The news was good, so he was able to finally put the accident from the day before out of his mind. It still wasn’t easy. A car wreck sent his sister, Layne Booco, and one niece to Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs while another niece was flown to Denver.

He learned they all would be OK before his Friday appearance in the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo, but the accident still was difficult to get out of his mind.

You don’t just shake the image he and his father rode up to Thursday after a desperate call from Layne. The family had been driving down U.S. Highway 40 and was about seven miles east of Hayden when their vehicle plowed into the back of a parked truck, Jake Booco said. Layne still was trapped in the car with the kids when she called home. By the time Jake and his father arrived, emergency crews were cutting into the wreck to pull her out. Both children already were free, but one wore a neck brace and was strapped to a stretcher.

You don’t just shake that, but if you’re climbing on the back of a furious bull, you don’t have an option.

“I thought about it all day at work,” Booco said. “When you get out here, you have to put it in the back of your mind.”

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Booco rode in the Steamboat rodeo for the second consecutive weekend, but he’s been a regular at the popular summer series for years. The 24-year-old Hayden resident and Hayden High School graduate has been around rodeo his entire life.

He was riding calves and steers when he was 7 and was braving the ride atop a bull by the time he was 12. He’s traveled to rodeos across the state since he turned 18 and dreams big, hoping to someday ride full time.

Last year wasn’t his best – he broke his femur in an early-season ride in Denver. He was able to rally and was crowned the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association State Finals champion at the end of the year. He has high hopes for 2008, too. He wants to make a run at winning the Steamboat series and plans to compete in the local rodeo far more than he has in the past. That doesn’t mean he’s abandoned his dreams of a bigger stage, either, and Friday he packed to head to Fort Collins.

If he’s to realize his Steamboat goal, he’ll need some better luck, he said. Whether it was the lingering thoughts of his hospitalized loved ones or just a mean bull, he couldn’t last the required eight seconds when he rode Friday night. His bull, Warlord, flung him high and hard and spun quickly to the right.

It was remarkably similar to his ride the week before in the Steamboat rodeo, Booco said.

The only difference, this time somewhere in the back of his mind, he was reminded there were far more important things in life than eight seconds on the back of a bull.