Riley Webb is still just 19 years old, but if it feels like this kid has been winning forever, it’s because he has.
Webb has dominated at both the junior and open levels for many years and stepped into ProRodeo in 2022, qualifying to his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR).
Competing in his sophomore season in 2023, Webb is ranked number one in the PRCA World Standings and added $5,671 with a record setting run in Redmond, Oregon during the 2023 High Desert Stampede April 5-8.
Webb competed in the slack on Wednesday, April 5 and stopped the clock with a smoking 7.2 second run to smash the arena record and win the rodeo by three tenths of a second.
“I had a first run and my calf looked like a good calf,” Webb said. “We scored good and got a good throw and was able to tie her up fast.”
“For being a record, there wasn’t really anything special about it except I got it on him fast.”
Webb had no idea the run was a record until watching the later performances on The Cowboy Channel when announcer Steve Kenyon noted that Webb’s leading time was the best ever inside the First Interstate Bank.
“I had no idea,” Webb laughed. “It was my first time up there.”
A year of firsts – no pun intended
First has definitely been the word to attach to Webb for much of the 2023 season.
“It’s been really good,” Webb said. The Denton, Texas cowboy is always humble, belying the fact that the Oregon win put him over $100,000 for the season already. He is more than $49,000 ahead of second ranked Hunter Herrin.
Webb’s season has been full of highlights including a win at RodeoHouston, the National Western Stock Show in Denver and now Redmond, all three stops on the PRCA’s NFR Playoff Series. He is leading those standings as well as the ProRodeo season transitions from the winter building rodeos into the spring and big, outdoor events.
Riley Webb’s new mount Boots
Webb attributes his fast start to a new mount, a gelding called Boots that he purchased right after competing in his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) last December.
“He seems like a good fit,” Webb noted of the 14-year old gelding who came from Ryan Belew of Colorado. “He’s changed my life and career so far.”
Though he claimed the 2022 Rookie of the Year title and finished 10th in the final PRCA standings after placing in five of ten rounds at the NFR last year, Webb was a little disappointed in his performance in Las Vegas.
“Especially coming off a slow Finals, to be able to find this horse . . . I literally pulled into my driveway from Vegas and went and tried him the next day,” he said. “He’s really cool.”
Boots has been the man for Webb’s winter dominance but Webb elected to leave him home in Texas for the spring. For Redmond, Webb caught a ride on Dutch, one of the horses that carried long-time girlfriend Josie Connor to the Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping in 2022 as well her own Rookie of the Year title.
“We both rode him in Redmond and she placed too,” Webb said. Connor was 2.1 to split fifth and up Dutch’s winnings for the weekend to nearly $7,000. “We sent a rig out there for Redmond and then on to the California run. I’ll ride him out there at those rodeos.”
Dutch was actually a tie down horse before finding superstardom in the breakaway roping with Connor last year. In fact, he was owned by fellow NFR cowboy Cade Swor and once carried such ProRodeo champs as Trevor Brazile and Tuf Cooper.
Webb has roped some on him before including busting a barrier for a check at Huntsville in the last couple of weeks. The plan is to use him some this year as Connor is focusing more on her two other horses.
Capitalizing on lessons learned last season, Webb is ready for the long haul through the summer to the end of the regular season on September 30.
“Go a little easier over the Fourth [of July],” he said. “Enter smarter, for more reruns on the calves and try not to kill myself or my horses.”
With horsepower to spare, and a sizable lead, Webb is focused on returning to the Thomas & Mack in December.
“Just go as hard and as smart as I can,” he said of the “plan” as rodeo rolls into the spring. “Try to be in the top bunch come October and be ready to be competitive over the ten days at the Finals. Just try to do the best I can.”