Story by JANAE FRANCIS • Photos by BENJAMIN ZACK • Standard-Examiner Staff
UINTAH — At 71 pounds, Trace Redd may be the smallest cowboy on the Utah Junior High School Rodeo trail, but he’s living his late-brother’s bull riding dream in a big way.
Last month, Trace finished 6th grade and won the state bull riding title in the first year of eligibility. The championship saddle he won likely weighs as much as he does.
The 12-year-old, 53.5-inch member of the Wasatch Rodeo Club now is qualified to compete in the National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Lebanon, Tennessee, June 18-24.
In a sport where a small body is a big advantage, Trace believes he's riding on the shoulders of his late brother, Ty Redd. His brother always inspires him and sometimes visits from another realm to take away his fear, Trace said.
"When I ride, I feel like he helps me a bit," Trace said of Ty. His brother died 6 years ago at age 14. Ty was accidentally shot in the stomach during target practice while the family was on vacation in 2011.
"Riding for Ty" is embroidered on the back of the safety vest Trace wears while bull riding.
The connection is vital to Trace’s success because before he died, Ty not only introduced Trace to bull riding but provided him with a legacy.
For Ty, the first bull riding prize he ever won was convincing his parents to allow him to participate in the sometimes dangerous sport. New to rodeo, his parents recall it taking years of nagging before allowing Ty to get on a mini bull just before he turned 10. Trace went on to take up the sport at the same age.
Staying close to his late son through bull riding, Blaine Redd said he now bonds with Trace over the knowledge Ty imparted before his death.
The father remembers taking Ty to the rodeos, where his son would explain what was happening.
"Ty was kind of my teacher," he said.
Now, Blaine Redd takes that lead during bull riding discussions and video review sessions with Trace.
“It’s all about counter moves,” he said to Trace when talking about the need to thrust his body forward out of the chute. “Do what (the bull is) doing. You got to take the power away from him.”
Ty left an impression on his friends in rodeo. Trace now has close friends who are top bull riders in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
Owning a herd of eight bulls themselves, Trace’s family holds regular bull riding sessions at their home arena. Many in the neighborhood attend to watch Trace and to occasionally try a few rides themselves. Ty's short life
Bingham and his brother, Tyler Bingham, also used to ride bulls at Trace's home, getting in practice while also passing along valuable knowledge to their late friend's little brother.
So far this year, both Tim and Tyler Bingham are listed in the top 30 in world standings for bull riding in the PRCA. Tim is in 7th and Tyler is in 27th place.
"Ty definitely made his mark on everyone's lives, therefore giving them the desire to want to help Trace 'ride for Ty,’" said Trace's mother, JayLynn Redd.
The influence of Ty's friendships even resulted in Trace getting featured on the Discovery Channel television show "Diesel Brothers." Hosts of the show visited the family's home and rode bulls last year for an episode called "Full of Bull" that aired in April.
JayLynn Redd said the hosts contacted some of Ty's friends, who recommended they ride at the Redd’s home. Trace's largest belt buckle, about the size of a small dinner plate, is a gift from the Diesel Brothers. The buckle features a homemade replica of the show's logo.
The young rider likely has many more buckles in his future. Every day, Trace works toward his goal of becoming the bull rider his brother likely could have been, he said.
A consistent regimen of sit-ups, push-ups and stretching his leg muscles on a workout ball keeps him in shape, Trace said.
He won the state title just four months after he broke his ankle and collar bone at a rodeo in Pocatello, Idaho (where he still scored the winning ride). That same month, he broke his wrist getting off a bull.
He cinched the May state title with a score of 72 in his second round of competition, the highest score any bull rider received that week, Blaine Redd said.