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Diné bull rider Keyshawn Whitehorse uses Pit crowd in strong finish

Diné bull rider Keyshawn Whitehorse uses Pit crowd in strong finish

ALBUQUERQUE – Diné bull rider Keyshawn Whitehorse has his sights set on a top 10 finish within the PBR’s Unleash the Beast season series.

He’s also looking to win the PBR World Finals, which is scheduled for May 18-19 in Arlington, Texas, inside AT&T Stadium before the PBR breaks for a two-month hiatus.

“I want to put myself in a position to where I’m gaining confidence,” Whitehorse said. “Eventually, I want to win a world title in my future so it’s all about staying healthy and capitalizing on each bull I ride.”

Whitehorse was one of three Diné bull riders to compete at this past weekend’s Ty Murray Invitational held at the Pit in Albuquerque. The McCracken Spring, Utah, bull rider went 2-for-4 and finished sixth overall. His efforts earned him 67 points in the UTB world standings.

Besides Whitehorse, the Diné contingent included PBR veteran Cody Jesus and 2024 Indian National Finals Rodeo world champion JaCauy Hale, who also covered 2-of-4 bulls. Jesus, meanwhile, went 0-for-3 at the Albuquerque event.

Whitehorse is currently holding down the No. 15 spot with 266.66 points. Brazilian bull rider Cassio Dias leads the pack with 1,200.33 points.

With eight events left in the UTB series, Whitehorse is looking to gain more ground before the season closes in mid-May.

“You want to make sure that you’re fully committed,” Whitehorse said.

At the Ty Murray Invite, Whitehorse was fully committed at the three-day event. On the opening night he covered Norse God for 87.5 points, which was third-best for the first-round performance.

“What I liked about that ride was I kept staying aggressive,” Whitehorse said. “But I wasn’t trying too hard. I was kind of making things happen and I really didn’t overthink the situation. I just did my job, and I finished with a strong ride.”

And although he’s never drawn that bull before, Whitehorse acknowledges thatNorse God is a veteran bull.

“He’s been around for a while,” the Utah cowboy said. “He’s had a lot of good rides. A lot of good riders stayed on him, and a lot of good riders got bucked off, so I had to make sure that I was ready in all areas of my riding.”

Despite doing his homework, Whitehorse was a little leery about how the bull was going to buck.

“A bull can buck a certain way, but sometimes when you get on them, they do something completely different,” he said. “I’m just glad that I was able to ride him and capitalize on that.”

In the next round on Saturday night Whitehorse ran into some bad luck aboard Mighty Mike, a bull that he’d never ridden before.

“It was exciting to get on him for the first time,” Whitehorse said. “I just felt like it was an opportunity that I let slip away. Honestly, he just felt different than the way he usually bucks.

“But I know that if I draw him again, I’ll be more prepared,” he added. “Sometimes after I ride, I kind of rewind the moment in my head to what I was feeling and what I was thinking. I’ll make the right corrections when I do get on him again.”

In the third-round performance on Sunday afternoon, Whitehorse lasted 1.94 seconds on Blackstone. In that ride, he lost his balance and after falling on the dirt the ornery bull stepped on Whitehorse’s non-riding hand. And though it was unfortunate, he understood that getting hurt is part of the territory when it comes to riding bulls.

“Blackstone is a bull that I’ve seen a couple of videos of him, and I’ve been on him once before,” Whitehorse said. “He’s an odd-feeling bull. You come around feeling fine and he just disappeared from underneath me and so I was really disappointed.

“I got my hand stepped on and I was questioning if I should ride in the short round,” he added. “I thought it was broken, but it looked all good.”

In retrospect, Whitehorse believes his faith helped him overcome his doubts about getting on his championship round bull.

“God puts us in these positions, and it tests our strength and our faith in Him,” he said. “I trust God that He would take care of me.”

In the championship round, Whitehorse was the ninth person to draw, and he chose Dana White’s Twisted Steel, a bull owned by UFC President Dana White.

That pick paid dividends as Whitehorse posted an 88.75-point ride, much to the delight of the Pit crowd.

“I didn’t have the highest pick, but I chose a bull that fits my style,” Whitehorse said. “Riding that bull was huge. It boosted my confidence, and it brought up my mental fortitude more than anything else. It was great to ride in front of the Diné Nation crowd.

“I love the energy and support they gave me,” he added. “Hearing their support when I picked Twisted Steel made me feel that I could get him ridden before the short round started. That helped me out and it allowed me to push through.”


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