Rodeo runs in this family
Usually, there's a Baker near the top of the bull riding standings.
Leon Baker was a top-notch saddle bronc rider, bareback rider and bull rider in his day, but his five sons concentrate entirely on the bulls.
"It's the event the crowd likes most," Josh Baker pointed out. "They started having bull riding away from rodeos and there's more money in it. Plus, we just like it because it seems like fun."
Two of the Baker brothers were in Montgomery on Thursday night to compete in the 54th Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo at Garrett Coliseum.
Shane Baker, 21, started first and was bucked off, finishing with no score.
"It makes me try harder," Josh said, "because we want each other to do good and hopefully take the money home, one of us, anyway."
Josh, 23, was next, with his younger brother cheering him on as he recorded a 78 for second place in the opening round of the International Professional Rodeo Association's All-Region Finals.
"It's pretty difficult," Shane Baker said, "but I knew before I even came here there was a possibility of that happening. I'm just glad at least one of us did good."
Josh Baker finished first in front of the crowd, but two contestants got re-rides after the fans left the arena. Cody Tyler White was bucked off of his bull, but Nathan Tull scored an 82 to grab first place and set the standard for the next round of contestants tonight.
Shawn Baker has all but retired from bull riding and Jesse Baker, 15, is still riding the junior circuit, leaving Josh, Shane and Justice to compete on the IPRA circuit. Immediately after Thursday's rodeo, Josh and Shane were on the road to Evansville, Ind., to compete in a Professional Bull Riders Association event tonight. Then it's back to Montgomery for the second go-round on Saturday night.
The two enjoy competing together in events, never letting a sibling rivalry stand in the way of cheering for the other.
"It's hard to do that whenever they buck us back to back," Josh said, "but he was the No. 1 guy out tonight and I was No. 6, so we put our ropes on our bulls and I ran over here and pulled his bull rope, then I had time to run over there. After he got off, he came over and helped me. It's usually pretty handy like that."
"As long as one of us is winning," Shane said, "it gets us money to help pay for the trip."
Shane still has an opportunity to win money in the second round and has an outside chance at placing high in the event, depending on what the other riders -- and bulls -- do in the final two days of competition.
"I can still win some money in the round, for sure, and decent money in the (two-round) average if I have a pretty good score," Shane said.
With two Bakers in the event, there's a good chance one of them will place among the top competitors in the event.
"Usually, one of us does good," Shane said.
"We put our faith in the Lord for everything," Josh said. "Helping each other, that's where our blessings come from."