There just aren’t enough second chances in life. But for many members of the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association, they are getting their second chance at rodeo life and competition. Due to the twists and turns in one’s life, many have had to forego rodeo in their prime adult years to attend to careers, families, and the demands of everyday life. They didn’t have the opportunity to compete as they would have liked to. Now, in the years after 40, they find that the time and resources are there for them to pursue a dream they thought might have escaped them.
So it is with Brad Sintek.
At 56, with daughters raised and on their own, a successful career well established, he’s now ready to ‘crack out’ on his second rodeo career. “I used to rodeo when I was younger but stopped when I was either 33 or 34. We had two young kids; I had my business to work, so I had to give up on rodeo. It has always been something that I have wanted to come back and do but never had the opportunity until recently. Every time I’d go to a rodeo, I’d dream about doing it but never thought it would happen.”
Complicating the issue of making a rodeo comeback was overcoming health problems and weight gain. “I thought I was past ever being able to rodeo again because of health problems. My whole family went through a dark spell; my wife had cancer for a second time, then almost died from a blood infection caused by the chemo. I had cancer, my heart quit and I have a pacemaker now. My youngest daughter was in a real bad car wreck. This was while I was in my early 50’s. Everyone is healthy now but I did gain some weight that I had to lose.”
In the spring of 2013, Brad experienced a life-changing epiphany of sorts. “In May of 2013 I did some soul searching and went on a mission to get back in shape. This went so well, one day in mid-summer while walking across my pasture, it dawned on me that I might be able to go back and ride again. I made this a mission, to get back in shape again. I had been thinking about a rodeo comeback for a month before I said anything about it to anyone. I wanted to mull this over and really be sure of what I was doing. I talked with my wife and she was very supportive. I’m a general manager of a company, and I went and talked to the owner about it and he was okay with it. I think he’d be my traveling partner if he could.” The next step for Brad was to check in with his doctors. “I didn’t want to do anything stupid, so I really needed to get their advice and I did get green lights, for the most part. After that, I made the decision to do it.”
With a firm commitment to make his rodeo comeback, Brad accelerated his conditioning program. “On top of working out an hour-plus-a-day, six days a week, I started working with a personal trainer two days a week. I wanted to be as physically ready and prepared as I could be. I had been doing low impact and cardio work and then, under the direction of the trainer, I started working on strength and agility.”
To reassure himself that riding saddle broncs was not a bad idea, he enrolled in a Sankey rodeo school that he attended in December of 2013. “I needed to make sure this was still a good idea and see if I could do it. It didn’t go great there, but it didn’t go terrible either. With each horse I got on, it got better. I came away still wanting to do it so I continued my work to get in shape.”
Brad used his creativity and engineering skills to build a mechanical bucking horse to further his training. “I don’t have any way to get on practice horses here so I did some research to see what was available and decided that I would come up with my own version that more closely mimics the way a horse bucks. It runs off the PTO of my tractor and I get my wife to run it for me.”
Brad and his wife, Becky (Rebecca) both grew up in Wyoming and now live outside Sandy, Ore. Their two daughters are Kaci and Brittany (Hull). Becky is involved in showing Red Angus cattle. “She has a 4-H group and she puts on livestock events at our place and I help out where I can.”
Brad says that he draws inspiration from his grandfather, Elmer Irene. “He was just one of those guys you liked being around. He was a tremendous cowboy, he was known as being great pickup man, and he just always enjoyed life. I’ve always tried to take a page out his book for my own and be like him.” Brad says that his grandfather taught him that attitude is a choice and he explains, “You can chose whatever attitude you want to have, but having a good one is the right choice.”
His next rodeo will at Wickenburg February 14 – 16 and he says that his goal is to, “…ride the next horse I get on and ride him right. That’s as far as I have planned. But I am going to go as many Senior Pro rodeos as I can and hopefully some in Canada.”