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Oregonian bareback rider Austin Foss is making a name for himself

Foss is currently the No. 3 ranked bareback rider in the world and is eyeing a second straight Wrangler National Finals Rodeo appearance.


Before his run at the Canby Rodeo, Terrebonne native bareback rider Austin Foss taped up his elbow so secure, it looked like he was wearing a broken arm-stabilizing sling.

“I’m taping my arm to prevent hyper-extension on my elbow. The figure eight joint keeps my elbow from coming out when there is so much pressure coming from your hips,” Foss said.

Photo Credit: PROFESSIONAL RODEO COWBOYS ASSOCIATION - Austin FossFoss said elbow taping is a normal pre-run practice for bareback riders. However, he straps on the tape a little tighter than most. But considering the injuries he’s been dealt over the years, it’s hard to question his caution.

“I’ve been screwed up a bunch. I’ve been knocked out a couple times, broken my wrist, my ribs, legs, and both ankles,” Foss said. He added: “Bareback riding is man versus beast and nobody knows what the beast is going to do.”

However, Foss has ridden through the bumps and bruises rather nicely.

While most 22-year-olds are showing off their college degree and stressing out about student loans, Foss is making a name for himself on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit.

Two years ago, Foss won the PRCA Bareback Riding Rookie of the Year award. And last year, he finished 12th in the world in bareback riding and qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. After placing in the first three rounds, Foss suffered a herniated disc and had to sit-out the final two rounds of competition. Foss doesn’t like to dwell on his premature exit at his first ever nationals appearance.

“You’re always like, ‘man, I wish I could’ve done better’ but at the same time it’s what it’s.” He added: “It’s not a matter of if you get hurt, it’s when. You just gotta keep rolling with it and go onto the next one,” Foss said.

This year, Foss has skyrocketed up the national charts and is currently the No. 3 ranked bareback rider in the world. And winning, Foss said, is his primary motivation.

“Every time I win a rodeo that adds to the success chart.

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That is what every guy is out here to do is win as many as you can,” he said.

Foss has won seven rodeos, including the St. Paul Rodeo, and co-championed three rodeos already this year.

After getting taped up, Foss stretched for about ten minutes. Then, he was the first competitor of the night. Foss describes his style as “fast and flashy,” but he was given a more mundane score of 75 from the judges. His horse didn’t seem to attain the necessary backward extension to make the ride abnormally challenging or give the judges a reason to vault him into money position.

Though he failed to scratch the money-zone, Foss has many competitions on the horizon to keep accumulating money and inch closer to another finals birth. The day before his round on Thursday, Foss competed in Caldwell, Idaho. And the day after, he competed in Gooding, Idaho. But in a sport where riders sometimes go to over 25 rodeos in a month, the highway is as much of a home as anywhere.

“I’m a walking, talking GPS. If you need directions anywhere, any of us can tell you,” he said.

But Foss doesn’t mind the traveling lifestyle.

“I’ve developed a lot of friendships. Living on the road, you know all these people and you can stay at their house. It’s not too bad,” Foss said.

One drawback, Foss acknowledges is that disgruntled locals often try to pick fights with riders. Foss says he’s never instigated a fight, but when a friend is ready to tussle, he’s more than willing to lend a fist.

One time when Foss and his friend were driving down the road, his friend cut-off a driver. The man first flipped him off on the road and then at the next light. Without saying a word to Foss, his friend got out of his car and banged on the man’s windshield. Foss thought his friend was about to initiate a road-brawl and was ready if a fight erupted.

But Foss completely misinterpreted his friend’s intentions.

“He rolls down his window a couple inches, and my friend starts yelling, ‘hey man I just wanted to say I’m sorry I cut you off!’ The guy was scared to death and his wife was sitting in the car watching all of this. I thought it was so funny,” Foss said.

Despite his fighting capacity, Foss says his greatest strength as a bareback rider involves his soft spot for animals.

“I like horses and get along with them pretty well. I’m pretty understanding of them. Some people just have a way with horses. It’s like a silent communication. It’s weird,” he said.

Fittingly, Foss says if he weren’t a pro bareback rider, he would either be ranching cows for a living or working in the Marines.

But Foss much prefers his current occupation.

Foss said: “I get paid pretty good money and I’m my own boss. I pretty much get to do whatever I want.”



Local Weather

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56°F

Canby

Cloudy

Humidity: 80%

Wind: 10 mph

  • 23 Oct 2014

    Rain 59°F 49°F

  • 24 Oct 2014

    PM Rain 59°F 48°F