CLN Insider with Keyshawn Whitehorse
This interview was done in September previous to the PBR World Finals. All credit for images goes to Bullstock Media and has been approved by the PBR.
Back in September, we were thrilled with the opportunity to sit down with Keyshawn Whitehorse to get some insight on riding at the top level in the PBR and what it’s like getting ready for a PBR World Finals. Enjoy!
CLN: Can you tell our audience a little about yourself?
Keyshawn: I’m from McCraken Spring, Utah and I’m also a Navajo Native American Indian. I started riding bulls because I saw them on TV when I was little and since then I always wanted to be a professional bull rider. I started doing some clinics here and there, then kept progressing by riding calves, then steers, then young bulls until I ended up riding the more rank ones as I got older. I was 12 when I rode my first big bull. Up until then I was a little scared and was lacking confidence, but after coming off that bull, I was able to learn that coming off wasn’t too bad and I could have probably ridden him if I really wanted to. I went from a lack of confidence to a boost of confidence. It allowed me to understand how the mind works and if you keep calm and believe in yourself that you can accomplish more than you think you can.
CLN: Can you describe what it was like for you when you realized that you could make a career out of being a professional bull rider?
Keyshawn: I was pretty young when I started so at that time I was just riding to ride. I think it was about the fourth grade that I started getting the hang of it and realized that riding bulls was really what I wanted to do. Then after a few years, I kept getting better and realized that I had a shot at becoming a pro, at that time it was all I wanted to do.
CLN: You’re currently sitting top ten in the standings, do you have a strategy or plan heading into the next few months before finals?
Keyshawn: For me, my plan isn’t too different from what I’ve been doing up until now. What I am planning on doing more is working on my fitness, staying healthy, and trying to rest when I can. I’ve been getting pretty banged up lately, like everyone else, but the better you feel at the finals, the better your rides are going to be. I am just going to do my best to remain healthy and be as strong as I can so I can last the full week of finals, getting on some of the best bulls in the world. For the most part, the best thing I can do is keep my mind clear and live in the moment. People try to live in the future and yet, aren’t even there yet. Most times, people’s minds are working overtime to try and predict multiple outcomes without knowing what the actual outcome is going to be. I try to focus on the task at hand, training as hard as I can, taking care of business, then showing up and riding the best that I can knowing that I’ve trained my hardest and that I’ve given it one hundred percent.
CLN: Who do you most look up to in the rodeo/bull riding industry?
Keyshawn: That’s tough, I really look up to all of the big bull riders. I always watched their styles and their forms. They all bring something different to the table, it’s hard to name just one. There are, of course, the greats who I looked up to, Jim Sharp, Donny Gay, Adriano Moraes, I honestly like all of them, but those are just a few.
CLN: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into bull riding or someone trying to get to the PBR?
Keyshawn: My advice for someone trying to get into bull riding or really anything, is to go all in and give it one hundred percent. You aren’t giving that opportunity a fair chance if you’re half-assing it. If you give it one hundred percent effort, with everything you have, and it doesn’t work out, then you can still say that you did everything in your power to let that opportunity arise and hopefully it was made for you, but if not you gave it your best shot. Especially with bull riding, the moment you’re “half in” is the moment you get hurt because you’re hesitant, scared or unsure. Be all in and just believe in yourself one hundred percent.
CLN: What’s your “Why”? (Your mission, what drives and motivates you…etc.)
Keyshawn: I have multiple why’s. When I first started, it was just because I enjoyed it. As I got older, I realized that not only do I just love riding bulls, I also want to be the best, I want to be a World Champion. Another reason is that I want to be successful for my family. They have put so much work into me to be able to do this, so I would love to be able to show them that all the hard work and time, paid off. I also have a strong desire to give back and help others. As I get further into my career, I want the younger generation to be able to watch me and see where I’ve come from and encourage them to reach their dreams. I was just a kid from the reservation without a background in bull riding. So me making it this far in my career, number eight in the world, really shouldn’t have happened, but I made it happen through determination, good blessings from God, and family support. This isn’t just about winning for me, it’s so much more and all of those reasons keep me going, working hard towards my goals.
CLN: What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years?
Keyshawn: In the next five years, I plan on becoming a World Champion in the PBR, if not once then multiple times. Other than that, I want to help the younger generation more with their bull riding and just get a little more involved.
CLN: Is there anything you’d like to specifically mention about being from the Navajo Nation and how that has shaped your career or your mindset in what you do?
Being from the Navajo Nation hasn’t hindered me, but has, in fact, helped me. When riding bulls at this level, I am typically the only Navajo there, so some kids would see that as insecurity but to me, it’s something that I’m proud of. I’m not different in the way that I show up to be a cowboy and to ride bulls. Me being Navajo, I embrace the differences that I have and the beliefs that I have in my culture, that makes me who I am and I’m not going to change that, I love that about myself.