No one adores his job more than bareback rider Kelly Timberman (Mills, Wyo.).
"I love it. It feels so comfortable. It's like the only time I'm really having fun," said the 28-year-old cowboy.
A mega Fourth of July run has the father of a 10-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl sitting No. 3 in the Jack Daniel's World Standings. He pocketed more than $26,000 during Cowboy Christmas. Only seven-time world titlist Dan Mortensen won more money over the holiday.
Timberman, who finished 23rd in the world last year, said he's simply more focused than ever before.
"I'm more motivated," he said. "I've been working at it a lot harder this year. I'm hungry. I decided to work at it a little bit more and not just rely solely on making money to rodeo. I have other assets that are going on so I can focus on rodeo. I feel I have a lot to put out there. I figured if I was going to try it, I might as well put out 100 percent and see what I can do and I feel like I have done that."
Over the Fourth of July, Timberman split first place at the Cody (Wyo.) Stampede, which is essentially his hometown rodeo. An 86-point trip on Sankey's Dippin' Parlor Game earned Timberman more than $10,000. He won that much in Greeley, too.
Timberman, unlike most of his counterparts, didn't start riding broncs until after he graduated high school. He competed in a few amateur rodeos and caught the eye of Casper, Wyo., college coach Tom Parker, who offered Timberman a scholarship on the spot.
He competed two years for Parker, fine tuning his talents and preparing for a life as a professional. Timberman also spent time at veteran bareback rider Larry Sandvick's place in Kaycee, Wyo. Sandvick, with world champions Mark and Marvin Garrett, would jump on bucking horses to get ready for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
"They buck their colts and called around to see if any kid would want to get on and I was the only kid to show up. It was awesome to hang out with those guys. I kind of just stayed in a corner. Mark Garrett was really instrumental in my riding improvement. He really helped me and is one of my biggest mentors."
Timberman said it's been a dream come true competing besides some of his heroes, like Jason Jeter, Lan LaJeuensse, Mortensen and Rod Hay.
"It's a huge lift in life in general to hang out with your heroes," Timberman said. "Also, it's a chance to show them what I can do. I feel like I can always do better.
"I've had glimpses of success, but never took it seriously. I have some realistic goals now in front of me. I'm chasing a dream."
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