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Usher back in action at Reno Rodeo

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” Jim Usher was a late bloomer when it comes to rodeo.

“I didn’t even pick up a rope until I was 15 years old,” said the now 36-year-old Usher, who was successful on just one of his two rides at the 89th annual Reno Rodeo Thursday night at the Reno Livestock Events Center. “I wanted to play baseball and football. I went to high school (Carpenteria) and it was football, football, football.

“I finished second in the state in steer wrestling my senior year, and that’s what made me think about it. I wasn’t big enough to play football except at the Division III level.”

Usher went on to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, one of the top rodeo schools on the West Coast.

“That’s where I really learned everything I know about rodeo,” said Usher, whose uncle owned a ranch in Ventura County. “I did some roping competitively when I was at Cal Poly. When I was done with college, I stopped roping. I still do it for recreation.”

Except for a five-year break to raise kids and taking this spring off to oversee the building of his new house in Gardnerville, Usher has been all about the rodeo. In the past, he spent his time going to circuit rodeos, save for the events in Reno, Salinas and San Francisco for the Grand National.

This was his first rodeo of the year, and the rust did show. He had a 9-second run in a slack round Sunday morning, but missed last night. It didn’t help that Joe, his horse, was restless in the box.

“That’s called not practicing,” Usher said. “I got out and got a good start and got out on him really good. It’s just timing; timing once I get on the ground and not finishing. The first run I kind of splattered the steer. I knew I had a little steer. I didn’t want to take him down and then have to let him back up.

“Coming back from five years off is tough. I don’t want to do that again. That’s why I came here and am going to Salinas because I didn’t want to take the whole year off.”

His wife and two kids were on hand last night, and they will accompany him next month to Salinas.

“We make it a family vacation,” Usher said. “I like that rodeo.”

Usher, who is a manager at Bentley Ag in Minden, plans on getting back as a regular at least at the circuit events.

“I may ride circuits one more year,” he said. “The last three or four years (until this year) I’d been going to about 20 events a year. When you take off the spring like I did this year, you miss maybe eight straight weeks of rodeoing in California. You miss a lot of good rodeos. Sometimes you can hit two rodeos in the same weekend.

“The kids are getting older. They enjoy going with me. You go to a place like Oakdale (Calif.), and you’re down about 10 a.m. and don’t have to go back until the next morning. We’ll barbecue and just have fun. I do a lot more sometimes when we’re together at a rodeo than I do when I’m home, because a lot of time I’m working at home.”

It’s tough to juggle job, family and a hobby like rodeo. Rodeo will certainly take a backseat over the first two, but no doubt he’ll find a way to sneak away once in a while. After all, it’s tough to give up something that’s been such an important part of your life.

– Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281

RENO RODEO

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Where: Reno Livestock Events Center

Locals to watch: Marvel Murphy-Selvester and Lita Scott (barrel racing); Neil Howard (tie-down roping)