Never stop grinding” attitude fueling No. 16 Keyshawn Whitehorse out of the Danger Zone

2018 PBR Rookie of the Year taking advantage of late-season opportunities.

James Youness | PBR

TACOMA, Wash. – While the Unleash The Beast campaign itself is just six or so months in length, world champion bull riders understand they need to ride, train and push themselves for the entire calendar year.

And most do.

But for grinders like Keyshawn Whitehorse who aren’t afraid to take his preparation and workout routine to the next level, he’d add a 13th month to his regiment if it meant an opportunity to get ahead of the competition.

Yet, on a weekend where the pack just put on a show two nights prior in Everett, Washington, the 26-year-old cowboy wasn’t going to let a little odd timing get in the way of his transition to Tacoma Dome on the whirlwind turnaround.

“I’ve had a process at home. This is the first event I really haven’t had a process going into it,” Whitehorse shared.

“Usually Sunday night or Monday I’ll fly back in. Work out hard Monday. Work out hard Tuesday. Wednesdays are hot yoga. Thursdays I was going to Cowtown (Coliseum) quite a bit until the season started wearing down on me a bit more. But it’s (the quick turnaround) just kind of one of those things, a new process, and I took care of it.”

Exiting the first of two showdowns on Thursday night with a seventh-place effort, it would’ve been easy to blame the awkward timing and lack of preparation for not just Saturday’s spectacle in Tacoma, Washington, but ahead of the midweek showdown as well.

The good part about a well-rounded routine is that it can address both strength and stamina. And, when you add in the tour’s stop in Billings, Montana, the weekend prior, Whitehorse’s out count is up to seven attempts in eight days.

“I’ve been dealing with some aggravating injuries pretty much since Teams season. Most of us have. Going home and making sure my body is strong and fit and ready to go allows my mental fortitude to keep going and it allows me to trust my body even more,” he detailed.

“I know going into some events, like for example, today, I didn’t feel the greatest, but the preparation and my warmup routine really helps me get my body in the right setting for my ride.”

No time for excuses. Only time for adjustments.

And with the Top 15 riders at the end of the 2024 PBR World Finals: Unleash The Beast – Eliminations set to move onto the postseason gauntlet’s final event inside AT&T Stadium for a chance to be crowned the 2024 World Champion, Whitehorse has been doing all he can to ensure himself a spot in said company.

“I definitely think about it. I want to make sure I do good. I don’t put any pressure on myself because of it. But I do want to make sure I get into the Top 15,” he said.

“Especially with the way I know my body feels. I know it can hold up if I need to get on the extra bulls, but the thing is. You can save your body and continue on going to AT&T. I think it’ll be a huge confidence booster too going into AT&T (ranked) Top 15 in the world. It’s kind of been a couple of years since I’ve done that. I’ve kind of floated in and out of it since 2020.”

Attempting to crack said group with a quality effort Saturday night inside Tacoma Dome, the McCracken Spring, Utah, native recorded a sound score paired with Bootstrap Bill during the final out of the opening section.

Riding with Determination: Keyshawn Whitehorse’s Stellar 85-Point Ride on Bootstrap Bill

Of course, the 85-point mark isn’t the end goal for Whitehorse.

But it nonetheless marks his most recent push in climbing out of the Danger Zone (which technically features riders outside of the Top 16, as opposed to 15, as No. 7 Austin Richardson will miss the postseason run due to injuries sustained earlier this season).

When you consider the rider was relegated to the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour (PWVT) midseason after beginning his campaign 2-for-10, the idea that he’s surged to within, and continued to rank amongst, the Top 20 or so in the world shows that he’s got more than enough grit to make this final push over the tour’s last two regular season events.

“A lot of times, when I’m up there, I gain more confidence and gain more trust in my ability. Going into World Finals in that position and then capitalizing at World Finals in that position will, honestly, show the work that I’ve been putting in,” he shared.

“I think that’s the biggest thing for me: With the amount of work I put in, I want to see the results. Winning isn’t loyal to anybody. You can put the work in and still not win. The thing is, nine times out of ten, when you do put the work in, it’s going to show up in the results.”

Thanks to his eight seconds of greatness Saturday night, he was able to move two spots closer to securing himself a spot inside AT&T Stadium by earning 8.5 UTB points for his 11th place finish in Round 1.

While it’s some future short round success that can help the rider elevate his odds of making a run at No. 1 Cassio Dias and company, he’s certainly been on fire in the first round lately. Converting in seven of his last nine Round 1 attempts (now 9-for 15 overall this season), dating back to a successful trip aboard Smokin’ Joe in Jacksonville, Florida, back in February, he credited a clear mindset to his hot starts.

“For me, when I was younger, it was always about getting the first one rode because from there it gives you confidence for the rest of the weekend. The first rounds carry a lot of momentum. When you ride your first bull, you feel good about your second one and generally know you can ride your second one,” Whitehorse explained.

“I just want to keep the consistency going. In the opening rounds, I’ve just kept such an even-keeled mindset. Going into the second round, I’m feeling confident and if I buck off, it’s usually a mental error. During the ride, it’s fundamental. But I’m so clear-minded in that first round because everything starts at zero again and I’m ready to go out there and make sure I do my very best in the first one.”

Now 16-for-42 on the season, he’ll look to keep things spicy with limited opportunities remaining in Louisville, Kentucky, and the season-culminating showdown itself, set to invade Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas, May 9-20!

Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media

Recommended Articles