Real Western > Rodeo > Japanese Rodeo Cowboys > Jin'ichiro Shibahara

Chasing The Dream

Written by Jin'ichiro Shibahara

2008 season

AUG 8, 2008 – Coalville, UT: The Buzzer
Summit County Fair & Rodeo (PRCA)

I had ridden my first Diamond G Rodeo bull here two years ago, and was dropped to the dirt in one second flat.  With my left hand as the fulcrum point, I did a forward summersault that would make the Hamm brothers proud, and was slammed into the ground.  He was the first rank bull I’d been on, and I’ll never forget that ride.

Coalville’s not too far from here.  I had a light dinner before I headed out to the arena.  The rodeo started at eight, and with work going on on I-80, I thought it would be crowded, but I was able to get there in an hour.  Checking in and paying my $140, I found out there would be eleven riding that day.  Big Red Truck from Diamond G was my dance partner for the night.  They didn’t name him “big” for nothing; when I found him in the back pens, he was bigger round and a good hand taller than all of the other bulls around him.  He was the first ton bull I had seen in a while and was sure to be a power bull.

The area behind the chutes at this arena is particularly small.  The bareback and saddle bronc riders had begun to show up and get ready, so I decided to just drop my gear bag off and go take pictures around the arena.  When I got back I saw Sonny Murphy standing around.  Turns out he wasn’t entered, he’d just come to watch.  Travis Atkinson was there too, though he wasn’t entered either.  He’d told me he was riding somewhere on Thursday and Saturday (which was the day after this rodeo) so I was a bit surprised to see him there since I didn’t think he would be coming.  Some guy he knew was riding, so he’d shown up to watch him.  Two days before this, I had ridden at a practice pen with him, and we began talking about what we went over that day and reviewing what I needed to do.

As the opening ceremony kicked off, I realized I didn’t have enough space to stretch, so I headed back to the parking lot.  It was a bit far, but it gave me a chance to walk out some of the kinks, and it offered space.  It wasn’t some paved parking lot, just a parking area that had been set up on the grass which made it a comfortable place to sit and stretch.  After I worked up a sweat, I laid back and took a moment to just stare at the sky.  As the announcer indicated the saddle bronc riding was about to begin, I got up and headed back behind the chutes.

Having put on my gear, I did the only thing I could do; I waited.  Cindy of Diamond G was doing what she always did, talking to the riders behind the chutes.  Having seen me, she walked over and said, “Read your interview (on  Man, that was a good story.  How old are you anyway?”


“Hell, I’m 50.”

“We’re both still young, eh?”  Hearing this she smiled widely and raised her hand for a high-five to which I obliged.

Big Red Truck got loaded into the chutes; literally.  He filled that chute from brim to brim, packing that steel box with toned muscle.  He was even bigger up close.  Chute Boss says I’m going first.

As the barrel racing wrapped up, the rodeo announcer came on and started telling the crowd about me in some detail.  He’d read the interview too it seems.

Travis helped me with my rope.  “Forget the spurs.  Ride with your knees.  Keep your chest out and your right arm in front of you!!”

Sonny, who is standing next to Travis chimes in, “Keep leaning forward and don’t let go of your rope no matter what!!”

Putting my right arm in front of me I keep a bend in my legs and squeeze him at the shoulders, pointing my toes out, I shook my head.

Windows Media
Exploding out of the chute, he cornered hard to the left.  I’ve always had trouble with left corners, but this time I throw my right arm above my head and manage to stay with him.  He’s not really moving forward, more like the momentum of his kicks are carrying him forward, but as he does, he turns right, then back to the left, then back to the right again.  He shimmied enough that at this point I lost my balance; but I wasn’t off.  Clinging to that bull, I could hear the crowd and I could hear the announcer though I couldn’t tell what they were saying…then, I heard the buzzer.

My left hand is still in the rope.

I was sideways on the bull, but my right hand hadn’t touched him.

My spurs were still in his sides.

No part of my body had touched the ground.

The buzzer faded.

I let go, but because the bull was spinning right, I fell into the well, but I kind of rolled and crawled to the chutes and climbed a fence that was near by.  In front of the fence stood Travis.  Shouting something for which they having created a word for, we slapped hands in a high five.  Eight seconds…I rode him…for eight seconds.

Picking up my rope, I bowed to the arena and stepped out.  It was only when I did that that I realized the crowd was on their feet with excitement.  The EMT standing in front of me when I turned around said, “I remember treating you a few years ago!”

“I think that was about two years ago” I replied, still breathing heavily.

“Yeah” she said.  “That was a bad wreck.  I wasn’t sure how this one was going to end either but you made a good ride.  What was your score?”

“72, I think.”


And with that I took my leave and went back behind the chutes to take my gear off.  Searching out Sonny and Travis I walked over to thank them.  Travis complemented me saying “You fixed your problem” and Sonny teased saying “you gotta’ move faster!”  Probably referring to my get off and the subsequent rolling I took from the bull. (The guy in the black jacket in the video is Sonny.)

Exchanging yet another high-five with Cindy, I stuck around to watch the other ten ride.  Nine failed to make the whistle, with the tenth punching out an 84.  At this point I was sitting in second, albeit it was only interim since there was another round the next day when nine more would ride.  As the lights went out I put my gear back in my bag and fire of varying colors lit up the sky.

I was hungry, but before going over to the competitor’s tent I decided to stop by the rodeo office first.  I was second among the riders that day, so I qualified for day money.  $235 won’t buy me a mansion on the hill, but it was my first check as a pro.

I ran into Cindy again in the tent and I sat and talked with her and her husband Steve.  They both were eager to find out what I had been up to since we last met.

Having filled the void in my stomach I went back to my car, sat down in the seat and closed the door.

And that’s when it finally started to hit me.  My first eight seconds, on the eight day of the eighth month.

From somewhere deep within me, a deep, vocal roar exploded, filling the interior of the car with a massive exclaim.

Jin’ichiro Shibahara

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