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Diné bullriders fire up crowd at Pit

Diné bullriders fire up crowd at Pit


A bull riding into his hand is Cody Jesus’ bull of choice when it comes to any event.

Either way the Sawmill, Arizona, cowboy will ride anything to get ahead in the PBR world standings.

And although he struggled in his last few PBR events, Jesus made things work during the 25th Annual Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque.

Jesus rode 3-of-4 bulls during the three-day event and finished in a two-way tie for seventh-place with Jose Vitor Leme.

“It feels good,” Jesus said. “I wasn’t riding worth a damn all year long, but to get it turned around was really fun.”

Jesus and fellow Diné rider Keyshawn Whitehorse received most of the applause as both bull riders went 2-for-2 in the qualifying rounds on Friday and Saturday night.

The PBR introduced a new format to this year’s Ty Murray Invitational as the packed crowds inside the Pit were treated to two 15/15 Bucking Battles on the first two nights with the top 15 riders competing.

Those top riders automatically qualified for the regular-formatted event on Sunday afternoon.

The two Navajo riders, meanwhile, competed with 18 other riders in the qualifying rounds to make Sunday’s performance.

“I really appreciate the Navajo fans coming out to support us,” Jesus said. “It means a lot. I mean, they came out to Albuquerque and probably bought a room and to have them here really fired me up to stay on.”

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Bull rider Keyshawn Whitehorse hangs on and tries to make his ride count for points at the Ty Murray Invitational PBR on Sunday’s in Albuquerque.

Whitehorse came out on top in the two qualifying rounds with an aggregate of 171.25 points while Jesus took second with 169.25.

“The Navajo Nation and just Natives in general, we hold pride in our old traditions and our roots, where we come from. We’re very traditional and hold pride in the western lifestyle,” Whitehorse told the PBR.

“So the Native American group being here,” he said, “they’re going to support the western lifestyle through and through.”

In his qualifying rides, Whitehorse rode Cheii’s Swagger for 84.5 points before adding an 86.75-point ride aboard Redwood Original.

“Never been on (Redwood Original) before,” Whitehorse said. “There was only one stat out on him. It was Clayton Sellars. He told me that he could be really good.

“I thought that bull was going to have a lot more up and down, and he was just really gassy,” he said. “I started riding him fairly easy, and kind of didn’t finish as strong as I wanted to.

“I was easily dominating that bull,” he said, “and I could’ve dominated all the way to the end. Right there at the tail end, I just kind of let it slip by but managed to slip by another one.”

Jesus, meanwhile, scored an 83.75-point ride on Bougie Native in Friday’s performance before adding an 85.5-point ride on Skeeter Peter on Saturday night.

“My buddy knows that bull and I’ve been on him last year about this time,” Jesus said of Bougie Native. “He actually bucked me off. I got my hand out and he got me on the ground.

“So, you know, on Friday, I was just going into with a clear mind,” he added. “I knew mentally I was prepared, and physically I was prepared for this. I just needed to keep my hand in the bull rope and, you know, feed off that crowd a little bit.”

Jesus said he fed off that crowd in Saturday’s round, as he was feeling a little more confident in his riding.

“The last three PBR events I went to didn’t go too well,” he said. “Four weeks ago I got stepped on right in the hips and it took me out for a weekend. I went to the Global Cup and I had a bull step right on me in the face and that kind of rattled me a little bit.

“I went to Glendale and I took another big shot, so my confidence was down,” he said. “It’s bull riding and it’s bound to happen. You’re bound to lose all of your confidence, but when you come into a place like this, you’re able to turn things around.”

In Sunday’s round, Whitehorse failed to make the required eight seconds aboard Sweatlodge Testified while Jesus earned an 87-point score on Oh Dang, a 4Bs Bucking Bull product.

“It was really cool bull,” Jesus said. “I asked (stock contractor) Johnyatt Begay before I crawled down there and I asked him if ‘He was ready to blow the roof off this place?’

“I had a feeling we were going to be in the high 80s,” Jesus said.

With that score, Jesus got on a fourth bull as he lasted 4.17 seconds on Pookie Holler.

“I knew that bull we could be more than 90 (points) and that’s why I picked him,” Jesus said. “There were no other bulls that went into my hand. I knew he was going to be one of the harder ones to ride, but if I rode him we would be up there in the 90s, so that is why I chose him.”

With the PBR world finals around the corner, Jesus said he’s looking to make this year’s finals.

“That is still my goal,” he said. “It’s not going to change whether my confidence is way down or way up. It’s gonna stay the same and make the world finals.

“I’m going to try and stay on every bull I get on from here on out,” he said. “That’s all I can do right now. I mean, hopefully it works out.”

Both riders earned valuable points with Jesus adding 43 of his 83 world standing points during the Ty Murray Invite while Whitehorse tallied 30 points. Whitehorse is ranked No. 39 with 96.66 points.

“I’m just blessed,” Jesus said of making the championship round. “I came in here as an invite and I made it work. I got some world points and hopefully I can ride next weekend.”

If he gets the call, Jesus said, he’ll ride at the Sioux City Falls, South Dakota PBR event on Friday.

If not, he’s going to hit some smaller events to get points in hopes of qualifying for the world finals as he is ranked No. 47 in the world.

“I hope to get back into the top 35,” he said.

About The Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at


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