R.C. Landingham would like to forget last year.
The Pendleton bareback rider missed out on the National Finals Rodeo by one spot, finishing 16th in the standings and missing out on a trip to Las Vegas by $7,627.
“I don’t even want to talk about it,” Landingham said. “It was hard to watch all my buddies at the Finals. It’s a big stepping-stone in your career. From that, I’ve learned a lot about the mental aspect of the sport. I try not to worry about making the NFR, and that has made me a better rider.”
Landingham has had his ups and downs this season, but he recently solidified his position in the top 15.
Landingham went through a dry spell from June 24 until July 15-19 at the Snake River Stampede in Nampa, Idaho, where he picked up $1,344. He has been on a roll ever since.
“From June 24 to Nampa, I didn’t win a check,” he said. “Over the Fourth (of July) is the busiest time, and I didn’t win a cent.”
But the past two weeks tell a different tale. He has earned $21,793 since July 21, including big paydays in Cheyenne, Wyo., Spanish Fork, Utah, Great Falls, Mont., and Strathmore, Alberta.
Landingham, 23, is 11th in this year’s world bareback standings with $52,693 in earnings — about $15,000 more than Caine Riddle, who is holding on to 15th place by less than $1,000.
“I don’t look at anyone behind me, just who’s in front of me,” said “I do that, and I can make the finals in December.”
Sitting ahead of everyone in the bareback is Kaycee Feild of Spanish Fork, Utah. He has earned $130,892 this year. Out of the top 10 riders in the event through last week, three of them — Feild, No. 5 Bobby Mote and No. 8 Will Lowe — have a combined 10 world titles.
Landingham said there aren’t a lot of tutorials out on the road. In this sport, riders learn by watching.
“Everyone learns from everyone,” he said. “You don’t learn from them telling you things, but from watching them and seeing what they do. I’ve been around long enough that I’ve made a name for myself.”
Cowboys have until Sept. 30 to earn money toward the NFR. There is plenty of money to be won during the upcoming swing through the Northwest, which includes this week’s Farm-City Pro Rodeo in Hermiston, the Horse Heaven Round-Up in Kennewick in two weeks and the famed Pendleton Round-Up in mid-September.
Landingham is up tonight in Hermiston. Then it’s off to Omak and a couple of stops in Utah.
Landingham, a three-time national high school bareback champion and the 2009 College National Finals winner at Blue Mountain Community College, joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in ’09, riding mostly in the Northwest.
In 2010, he started branching out. At the time, he rode bulls and competed in bareback. He finished 32nd in the all-around world standings with $27,578 and 40th in the bareback, where he earned most of his money ($22,869).
He might have finished better had he had finished out the season, but there was a bull at RodeoHouston that had other ideas March 5, 2010.
“I fractured my back, broke three ribs, fractured my pelvis and scapula, had a collapsed lung and lacerated my liver,” said Landingham, who missed three months.
The 2011 season looked to be more promising. Landingham won a couple of rodeos before a car accident May 26 left him with a broken femur, tibia and fibula in his left leg and two bones in his right hand.
“They put in a metal rod, hip to ankle, and nine screws,” Landingham said.
Landingham gave up bull riding after the incident in Houston, but there was no way he would give up rodeo altogether.
“I’ve dreamed of being a world champion since I was a little kid,” he said. “Just taking it day by day. No sense looking at anything else.”
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