There have been a lot of changes that Will Reynolds has dealt with over the last three years.
Three years ago, Reynolds made the move from Keera, New South Wales, Australia, to the United States on a college rodeo scholarship to Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma.
The move was made in order to pursue a pro rodeo career as a saddle bronc rider. He said he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to compete with better horses and better money.
Saturday’s performance marked Reynolds’ competitive debut at the SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo at the Ector County Coliseum. And since making the move to the United States, he’s had to make a number of adjustments beyond driving on the other side of the road.
“It’s a lot more serious,” Reynolds said prior to his performance Saturday. “Over here, you can do it for a full-time job while back home it’s more of a hobby than anything. I really like that it’s a lot more professional.”
Reynolds said that he’s been riding saddle bronc over the last five years and added that he had some family influence to peak his interest.
“I just grew up around horses and breaking in colts,” he said. “My step dad actually used to saddle bronc as well and I always just wanted to give it a go. I wanted to figure it out before I quit.”
That pursuit of the dream has taken Reynolds around the world and the Australian cowboy is now hoping to make the most of his opportunities on the big stage. The last couple of years have presented a few challenges in that regard, however, because of injuries.
Those injuries included surgeries on both shoulders and having to recover from a broken wrist during a rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming. That resulted in him being limited competitively in 2019 and missing much of 2020 recovering.
“I’ve had a bit of bad luck with that,” he said. “I only just got cleared about three weeks ago and I’ve just been practicing and heard that they had a good rodeo and good money here, so I thought I would give it a shot. This is what I love to do and I’m just happy to be able to do it again.”
Reynolds was able to finish his saddle bronc ride for the full eight seconds required to earn a score Saturday. That was erased, though, after his ride was nullified when he failed to have his feet above the horse’s shoulders coming out of the chute.
Despite that setback, Reynolds said that he’s thankful to have a chance to compete again and to be fully healthy while doing so. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the schedules of cowboys all throughout the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association.
“You just have to make the most of that chance,” he said. “A lot of us guys do this full time for a living. When they get to canceling stuff, that makes it harder for us. So we’re just grateful when the rodeo gets put on.”
The objective now for Reynolds is to try to make the best of the uncertainty that comes with the schedule. And as he finishes his first competitive rodeo of the year like many others who compete in Odessa, he wants to just continue getting back to full strength.
“I just try not to have too many expectations really,” he said. “I just want to go out there and do my best job and hope that it all works itself out.”
>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas