Cowboy comes home to Shrine Rodeo event
Basehor native Spencer Turner is truly living the life of a cowboy.
Traveling from Michigan to south Florida and everywhere in between to participate in 40 to 70 rodeos per year is how he makes his living.
"It's pretty fun," he said about his specialty, saddle bronc riding. "Sometimes it can be kind of dangerous, but it's a good rush."
The 32-year-old is currently living just south of Lincoln, Neb., but he moves frequently to keep his surroundings interesting. While home changes often for him, his family still lives in Basehor where he grew up and he still considers his home base. It's also where he learned the ropes of his career.
He didn't grow up on a farm or a ranch, but a local rodeo he frequented as a child sparked his interest.
"When I was growing up, my parents took me to the American Royal and it was pretty interesting," he said.
That initial spark grew after he met some participants in the youth rodeo and tried his hand at bareback riding. Deciding it wasn't what he was looking for, Turner branched out and tried bronc riding.
"When it's done right, it's pretty classy looking," he said. "I just bought a bronc saddle, went to rodeos and places to practice, kind of half teaching myself and taking other people's advice."
From one-horse towns to packed coliseums and televised rodeos, Turner said he doesn't necessarily have a favorite place to compete, but he did admit that he was uncharacteristically anxious while competing in the Shrine Rodeo this past weekend in Tonganoxie.
"I was kind of nervous in front of the hometown crowd. I didn't want to look like a fool in front of all the people I know," he said laughing.
A few days before the competition, Turner said riders know which horse they will be competing with and most begin calling around to ask about its behavior to get a feel for how the horse will react. However, Turner's animal was normally placed in the bareback competition so nobody seemed to know how it would act in saddle bronc competition. He said he thought he rode fairly well regardless, but staying on the animal with correct form is only half the scoring. The harder the horse bucks, the better the score.
"She (the horse) was good for half the ride, then she got weaker," he said. "No matter how good you ride, you're not going to beat a guy whose horse is just outstanding. It's just the luck of the draw."
While he didn't finish in the top six, he said he appreciated the hospitality of the Shriners and the people on the rodeo committees in Tonganoxie.
"This weekend wasn't a good weekend for me, but there's plenty more rodeo left," he said.