As a parent, you truly want your children to be happy in whatever they do, regardless if they follow in your footsteps. Shawn Weise’s Dad, Ted Weise, was a former bull rider but until Shawn was 14 he had no interest in riding bulls, he just wanted to play baseball and football like a “normal” kid. Then he saw the neighbors bucking their steers for fun and whether it was in his DNA or just in the big eyes of a 14 year old, Shawn decided to climb on a steer that day. The result was road rash across his chest from the steer stepping on him and his dad’s first thought was: “That’ll cure him.” It didn’t cure him, it only fueled his passion and with-in a couple of months, Ted had a round pen and a bucking chute built on their property. Shawn was now on his way to becoming a bull rider.
He started riding bulls in high school and open rodeos. His passion for the sport grew with each bull ride , which he then had his mind set that he would ride in college and someday be a professional bull rider. In most sports, injuries are a concern but in bull riding, it is a given. As the old saying goes, “it’s not if you get hurt, it’s when and how bad”. Shawn received his first major injury when he was 17, a bull stepped on his head. He was knocked out and unconscious for over 20 minutes. “I really believe God saved me that day, I received a few stitches and was sent home but my face did swell up pretty good”. Shawn climbed back on another bull six days later. It’s that kind of physical and mental toughness that separates bull riders from other athletes.
A few months later Shawn had the opportunity to go on a bull riding mission trip to Saltillo, Mexico alongside some professional bull riders. For a 17 year old, visiting a foreign country alone might be a little nerve racking, but going to ride bulls in a foreign land as the youngest rider and only non-professional, it had Shawn a little rattled but excited just the same. The trip would be a turning point in Shawn’s bull riding career both good and bad. To add to his overwhelming nerves, Shawn had drawn one of the top bulls in Mexico. That night he made one of the best bull rides of his 15 year career and impressed the professionals along with the sold out Saltillio, Mexico crowd. Unfortunately, when he dismounted, the bull stepped on his leg. Being young, invincible and in a foreign country, he chose not to go to the hospital even though he knew his leg was probably broke. He went two days with a massive swollen leg before going to a doctor upon his return to the states. The doctor confirmed what he already knew, a fractured leg that would put him out of competition for six months. Obviously that was the bad that came from the Mexico trip but the confidence Shawn gained would be a key factor in him obtaining his dreams of becoming a professional bull rider. “Confidence is one of the most important things to a bull rider, the odds are against you but in your mind you have to believe there is no bull that can defeat you. That trip to Mexico was a confirmation to myself that I could compete with the pro’s and ride rank bulls.”
Shawn ended up receiving a bull riding scholarship to Howard College in Big Spring, Texas. While at college, he also started his professional career in the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association). As mentioned earlier, injuries play a big role in this sport and Shawn had his share throughout his career. Torn ACL, torn rotator cuff, two broken legs, countless broken ribs and many concussions. Shawn went on to ride nine years in the PRCA but things changed once he and his wife had a child. He says it’s pretty common for bull riders to stop riding when they have kids. “It’s a selfish sport where you don’t have to worry about anyone else but yourself, but when you have a child, you have a different frame of mind.”
Once Shawn decided to stop riding he finally enjoyed a 4th of July weekend in his back yard with a beer, a bbq and no bulls. He even was able to golf, a luxury that he enjoyed for a few years after his professional bull riding career. But, when bull riding has been a part of your life for so many years, you can’t stay away from it too long. Although he admits he had to separate himself for a bit, he knew he would never quit the rodeo lifestyle.
He always had it in the back of his head that someday he would raise a bull or two but when he had the opportunity to buy the son of Wolfman, he jumped on it and purchased five cows to breed as well. Today he has 20 cows and over 20 bulls that he and his dad breed and raise on Ted’s ranch outside of Payette, Idaho. Shawn cross breeds with his Bovico Bucking Bulls partners where all three partners bring their bulls together, train and travel to rodeo’s in the Northwest and to PBR events. Learn more about Bovico in our previous People of Our West Post.
Now that Shawn is a Dad to three kids, like his Dad before him, he will not push them into the rodeo/bull riding lifestyle. But if they do show an interest, he knows he will support them in their decisions and choices just like his Dad did for him. His self-proclaimed reckless stage is behind him so he can now enjoy his three kids, a beautiful wife, a great career and continue to have a hand in bull riding but maintain a “normal” lifestyle of a former professional bull rider.