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Bobby Mote no longer a one-horse cowboy

Life on the road used to be so simple for Bobby Mote.

As a bareback rider, he could shove all of his rodeo gear in one bag, climb in the car with a group of fellow rough-stock riders and travel from rodeo to rodeo without much concern.

Now that he has doubled up with a bit of team roping the last couple of years, Mote has a checklist of items that must make it into the truck, including his roping horse, Murphy.

“It takes a lot more coordination, and it costs a lot more,” Mote said of adding a horse and trailer to the mix.

Also, he has not been able to travel with fellow bareback riders Ryan Gray, Jason Havens and Steven Dent.

“My schedule has been a little different with the team roping, and I haven’t been able to enter with those guys,” Mote said. “I’d like to be able to go with them, but it just hasn’t worked.”

Mote will compete in bareback riding and team roping Friday as the Farm-City Pro Rodeo celebrates its 25th anniversary in Hermiston.

The rodeo begins tonight and runs through Saturday. Action begins at 7:45 p.m. each night.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Metal Mulisha MX returns to entertain the crowd before the rodeo, and mutton bustin’ will be featured all four nights.

Mote has won a lot of money over the years in Hermiston, but he has not won a bareback title there.

“I’ve been second quite a bit,” the Culver, Ore., cowboy said. “My first big check I ever won was in Hermiston, and I filled my permit there. I expected it to be all roses from there. I’ve always done well, but I’ve never won.”

Still, Mote has done well for himself in the sport.

After 16 years on the circuit, Mote holds the PRCA career earnings record for a bareback rider with $2,102,255 through Sunday. He broke Clint Corey’s mark in 2011 at the Red Bluff (Calif.) Round-Up.

The four-time world champion bareback rider (2002, 2007, 2009-10) has made 11 trips to the National Finals Rodeo. In 2011, he finished third in the world standings and was second at the NFR.

This year, Mote is ranked sixth in his signature event — bareback riding — with $61,810. In team roping, he has earned $17,030 (ranked 45th), working the head while getting help on the back end from 2000 Rookie of the Year heeler Trey Johnson.Mote will rope with Dave Inman on Friday because his schedule doesn’t align with Johnson’s.

Working two events has paid off for Mote, who sits second in the all-around standings with $78,168 — about $90,000 behind leader Trevor Brazile.

“It has been OK,” Mote said of the roping. “I have missed opportunities. I should have three times that money. It’s just small mistakes here and there. I hope to finish the year strong.”

His take on Brazile, the man who has won more money ($4,443,725 through Sunday) in rodeo than any man who has donned a cowboy hat?

“Trevor has it all because he’s the best cowboy out there,” Mote said. “I have been around some of the same performances this year, and to see him perform, it’s just incredible. He’s that good because he’s worked at it since he was a little kid. He just keeps raising the bar.”

At 36 years old, Mote has been around the arena a few times. He also has suffered his share of injuries, but none worse than last Aug. 27, when he broke ribs and lacerated his pancreas after he was slammed against the chutes at the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

He had surgery to repair his pancreas and was back in action three months later at the NFR.

“Last year’s injury, that was pretty serious,” Mote said. “If I hadn’t listened to (Gray and Havens), I would have died that night. The people at urgent care wanted me to get a room and rest for the night. Ryan and Jason insisted they do more tests. Thank God they did. As it was, I wouldn’t have made it to the next day.”

Mote went on to earn $105,673 at the NFR, making up for lost paychecks while recovering after his accident. It was a big chunk of the $180,672 he earned last year.

Now, if he could just hit the big payday in Hermiston.