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June 27, 2024 4 min read

Riding Through the Storm: The Markout Rule and Rough Stock Challenges 

In the latest episode of the Ol' Boy Podcast, we had the pleasure of chatting with three-time bareback riding champion Tim O'Connell. Tim shared his insights on the complexities and challenges of rodeo events, highlighting the "markout rule" in rough stock competitions. This rule requires riders to have both spurs above the horse's shoulder before its front legs hit the ground, a rule Tim finds both arduous and unnecessary. “I think it either needs a replay system for fairness or needs to be eliminated,” he candidly suggested. His critique underscores the need for modernization in the sport, aiming to make it fairer and more accessible for riders. 

Trials and Tribulations: Injury and Recovery 

Tim's journey has not been without its hurdles. During a competition in Denver, he sustained a groin injury that later required surgery. Despite rapid recovery efforts, the injury recurred, necessitating a more cautious approach. Tim recounted, “I felt a pop next to my scar and lost power in my leg, which forced me to withdraw.”   

Seeking a second opinion revealed his surgery site had pulled apart, emphasizing the extreme physical toll rodeo takes on the body. Tim’s resilience in facing these challenges is palpable. He shared, “I might have pushed too soon, but now the focus is on a slower, more sustainable recovery.”  

Passion Beyond the Arena: Hunting and Cooking 

Beyond rodeo, Tim O'Connell has a robust passion for hunting, especially coyote hunting, and has made memorable trips hunting white-tailed deer in Iowa and Missouri. This passion extends to weaponry and the intricate details involved in hunting, a hobby that keeps his spirits high.   

Cooking, particularly barbecue, has also become a sanctuary for Tim. Inspired by a newfound love during COVID, Tim has delved deep into culinary adventures. “Grilling has become my Zen place,” he shared. Whether it's pulling off a perfect nine-hour pulled pork or experimenting with new recipes, cooking provides him a creative outlet away from the pressures of competition. 

The Cowboy Channel: Shaping Rodeo's Future 

One of the significant changes in the rodeo landscape, according to Tim, is the impact of the Cowboy Channel. “It's brought new eyeballs and excitement to the sport,” he noted, highlighting how increased visibility has attracted fresh audiences and provided a platform for rodeo to flourish. Tim sees potential for the sport to grow even further, emphasizing the importance of media in shaping the future of rodeo.   

Rodeo Contracting and the Equine Debate 

A recurring theme in Tim's rodeo narrative is the complexity of rodeo contracting and horse assignment. He expressed frustration over being paired with less desirable horses, which can impact performance and earnings. “There’s a need for variety, but the lack of control can be disheartening,” he admitted. This conversation extended to discussing the subjective nature of judging in rodeo, a topic that calls for not just fairness, but also transparency.   

From Intensity to Insight: Training and Analysis 

Physical training is paramount for Tim, who consumes up to 6000 calories a day to maintain his athletic prowess. His commitment to training reflects in his competitive edge, though it comes with the constant need for recovery and injury management. Tim’s analytical mind also shines as he observes and studies horse behaviors meticulously, preparing for each ride with an almost chess-like strategy. 

A Balanced Path: Business and Mentorship 

Another facet of Tim's life is his venture into Ranch and Co Interiors, a furniture business born during the pandemic. This side hustle reflects his understanding of creating a balanced path for life after rodeo. Teaming up with his wife, Tim's business allows him to channel his creative energy productively. 

Moreover, Tim’s reverence for mentors like Ken Mason, who transformed Missouri Valley College into a renowned bareback riding program, showcases the value he places on guidance and mentorship in his career.   

Conclusion: Gratitude and Future Aspirations 

Tim O'Connell’s blend of humility and intensity shines through his reflections on life, injury, and ambition. With gratitude towards his sponsors, family, and the rodeo community, he strides forward with a vision for recovery and success, both in and out of the arena. His journey underscores the essence of resilience, passion, and the continuous pursuit of excellence. 

Listeners of the Ol' Boy Podcast are left inspired, eager to follow Tim's path, both on the rodeo circuit and in his new ventures. “Rodeo is more than just a sport; it's a way of life,” Tim concluded, leaving us all a bit more appreciative of the grit and grace that defines a true cowboy. 

Listen Here

"I remember him hitting me in the side of the head quite a bit, but I had a helmet on, so he whacked me in the side of that helmet, and then he'd step on me, and he'd drag me underneath him."             

- Tim O'Connell 

3 Fun Facts About Tim O'Connell  

  1. Tim O'Connell learned to cook during the COVID-19 pandemic and has developed a passion for barbecuing, particularly ribs and pulled pork.
  2. Tim has a playful rivalry with his brother over a horse that Tim dislikes, but his brother loves, due to its awkward bucking and strategic use of weight.
  3. Tim and Chad both enjoy sushi, with Tim discovering his favorite sushi spots during his travels and Chad finding surprisingly good sushi in Kentucky.

Where to Follow Tim O'Connell

Tim O'Connell Merch  
Custom Furniture Instagram 
Website for Furniture