Sports

He's a rodeo cowboy

"Noah Martin is on a five-game winning streak in a sport that’s about as popular on Whidbey Island as a Deception Pass Bridge traffic jam. He’s a rodeo cowboy. Martin, 16, won the senior division bareback steer-riding event at a rodeo in Sedro-Woolley at the end of last month, and he’s also won the last four bareback steer-riding events he’s competed in at rodeos in Roy, Enumclaw, Issaquah and Ellensburg. “Lucky for him he’s got kind of a natural talent for it,” Martin’s mother Lori said. At 13, in Martin’s first time ever riding a bull, he took third place in the junior division at a rodeo in Enumclaw. Riders have to stay on the bull or bronco for eight seconds, keep their spurs above a horse’s shoulders during its first jump right out of the chute, and not touch the animal with their free hand or body. “The biggie is you have to stay on for eight seconds,” Lori said.Eight seconds can be a long time when riders are thrown ferociously back and forth by angry bulls and broncos specially bred to buck.“You can get killed and all that stuff,” Martin said. “I got a horn in my neck from one of the steers, and I couldn’t move my neck for a while.” Though the non-puncture wound had the potential to seriously injure him, Martin said he stuck with the sport because he gets something out of it that he can’t get anywhere else.“It’s fun being able to ride the bulls and bareback horses,” he said. “I like the adrenalin rush I get from being strapped to a 2,000-pound bull that you don’t have any control over.”Usually, the cowboys don’t have fierce rivalries with each other, and Martin said he’s developed friendships with most of the people he competes against at rodeos all over Washington.“We all help each other out and get each other pumped up,” Noah said.Martin said he doesn’t know anyone else in the Oak Harbor area who competes in rodeos besides his sister and mother, who compete in team-pinning events.Martin’s family, which owned the recently closed Tak-Rak horse tack and supply store in Oak Harbor, is moving to Colorado where he will join the Colorado High School Rodeo Association. Eventually, Martin hopes to become a professional rodeo cowboy. To do this he must get a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association permit and then win at least $1,000 in prize money during the following year at PRCA sanctioned rodeos. After this, Martin gets the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association card and can qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. The annual National Finals Rodeo is the biggest rodeo of the year, and it’s filmed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for national television. "

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