Kissimmee bull rider back home to compete at the Wrangler Champions Challenge
Guess who’s back in town for Saturday’s Champions Challenge in Kissimmee?
Here’s a couple clues. He‘s ranked among the top 12 bull riders in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s 2015 world standings. And he’s heading to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas for the first time this December.
Yep, it’s our very own Caleb Sanderson, son of Silver Spurs Club members Benny and Pam Sanderson. He’s looking forward to catching up with friends and family, but he came back home to win.
Caleb got back to his folks’ house in Kissimmee on Thursday, just ahead of this weekend’s October 3rd Wrangler Champions Challenge, presented by Justin Boots.
He graduated high school from Hope Christian Academy in 2008, and was just 19 when he moved to Texas to compete in bigger circuits and rodeos out west. He spent that first year in Athens and then moved to Stephenville, “Cowboy Capital of the World!” It’s also where his grandparents have a ranch and where he met his wife Nikki.
Now 26 and married nearly a year, Caleb has cut his chops in the world of professional rodeo and is only gaining momentum as the National Finals Rodeo (often abbreviated NFR) approaches. For those of you of you new to the sport, the NFR is like the Super Bowl of the professional rodeo world and was established by the PRCA in 1958.
We couldn’t be more proud of Caleb. We all watched him grow up in the Spurs, where he was the very first person to ride a bull in our new arena when it opened in 2003! (It was a junior event held before the main show, but first is first!)
Caleb also diligently competed at the Friday night rodeos at Kissimmee Sports Arena and was a high school rodeo champion. We’ve followed his career almost as close as his family. Benny actually just got back from 10 days on the road with his son out west.
And speaking of travel buddies, Caleb credits fellow bull rider Jeff Askey for entering him in several contests this year that he wouldn’t have otherwise participated in. They were mostly “duck-off” rodeos (smaller events that take place the same days as bigger ones). But they helped him earn the money needed to qualify for the NFR.
Caleb and Jeff travel with two other bull riders who clocked about 50,000 total miles on the road during the “summer run” in circuits in the west and northwest. Caleb certainly ended on a high note, but he started 2015 with a bang, too. He claimed the first Xtreme Bulls Tour win of his career at the Seminole Classic at Fred Smith Arena in Okeechobee last February.
It’s been a long year, but Caleb would never call his job hard work. It’s more like a hard way to make an easy living. His grandfather once told him that “to be a good bull rider, you gotta be lazy and like to hunt.” It reminds Caleb that for all the falls, pulled muscles, and time away from his family, he’s blessed to be able to do what he loves for a living. Next year he aims to win more and be on the road less while continuing to rise in the PRCA rankings.
He’ll get his shot this weekend at the Champions Challenge back on his home turf. We’ll be there cheering him on and hope you’ll come root for him with us this Saturday night in our namesake arena at Osceola County Heritage Park. At 6’3”, he’s a tall drink of water for a bull rider, which makes him even harder to miss. Either way, you’ll see that our hometown boy has definitely made good.
Listen to Caleb’s September 30th interview on 103.1 The Wolf:
Ready to experience your first rodeo? Save the date for Saturday, February 10th for our 7th Annual Monster Bulls where you can watch real cowboys go up against some of the “rankest” and baddest Silver Spurs bulls. Or, join us February 16th through the 18th for the 140th Silver Spurs Rodeo where you can watch seven of rodeo’s traditional events: bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, women’s barrel racing and team roping! Hope to see y’all then!