Excuse cowboy Cody Moody for not being on top of his game.
Saturday was his first rodeo.
Moody, 20, of Exeter had been to the Clovis Rodeo many times. This time, he was on center stage rather than in the stands.
And like many first-timers, Moody had his share of rookie mistakes.
Most notably: Falling off his saddle bronc horse and hitting the top of his head before a sellout crowd of 8,500-plus at the rodeo grounds.
Still, he was all smiles afterward, even if he failed to last the required 8 seconds to register a score.
When you fall on your head, at least you know you won’t break an ankle.
Exeter cowboy Cody Moody
“When you fall on your head, at least you know you won’t break an ankle,” Moody said. “It was just fun going out there. Wish I’d done better. I’m not too far from home. It would’ve been nice to have stayed on.
“But it was my first rodeo.”
France native and cowboy Evan Jayne can relate to Moody’s rookie struggles.
Growing up in the countryside in a southern village called Cuges-les-Pins, Jayne participated in a few junior rodeos in Europe before deciding to move to Houston at 16 and dedicate himself to the rodeo lifestyle.
He tried everything – from bareback to saddle bronc to bull riding – to figure out his best event.
“Fell on my face many times,” Jayne said. “But I always got back up. Sometimes slower than other times. But I always got up.”
Now 33, Jayne has established himself as one of the top bareback riders and last year became the first European-born cowboy to qualify for National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
He led the field through two rounds at the Clovis Rodeo, too, after riding “Sourdough” to an event-high 84.5 points. A final round of different competitors will ride Sunday.
Sourdough was the winning horse last year in Clovis.
Bareback rider Evan Jayne led the field through two days after scoring 84.5 points on the horse “Sourdough.” There’s still one more round of races Sunday. Sourdough was the winning horse at last year’s Clovis Rodeo.
“I talked to my wife before the trip and told her, ‘I need that horse named Sourdough,’ ” Jayne said. “When you draw a horse like Sourdough, which is kind of an easy ride, it takes all the pressure away.
“All you got to do is stay cool, stay calm and stick to the basics. And you’re going to come out toward the tops. I’m pretty happy.”
Fellow bareback rider Buck Lunak of Montana tried to challenge Jayne. He even received two rides after his first horse bucked straight toward the one muddy area of the rodeo grounds, which prompted judges to give him the opportunity to ride a different horse.
Lunak accepted the second ride, though he had only 5 minutes to recover from his first go-round.
“I was tired, but I wanted to try to get a better score,” Lunak said. “Second horse didn’t do as well. Maybe I should’ve stuck with my first score.
“Those are the decisions you have to make on the fly. I did all right. Hopefully, I’ll do better next year.”
Moody, the rookie from Exeter, felt the same way.
“I’ll be back,” Moody said. “And I’ll do better.”
SUNDAY’S CLOVIS RODEO SCHEDULE
- Noon: Special Kids Rodeo (in partnership with Break the Barriers)
- 2 p.m.: Final Rodeo Performance – Championship
- Of note: Sunday also is Tough Enough to Wear Pink Day. … Reserved seating is $20.