She entered the contest on a whim and left with thousands of dollars and the title of mechanical bull riding world champion.
Laura Moore, a 33-year-old Moscow resident who coaches the Washington State University equestrian team, stopped in Spangle, Washington, earlier this month with her husband, Cody Moore, and noticed a flier advertising a mechanical bull world championship held in the small town along U.S. Highway 195.
“I said, ‘Hey, I think I can probably do this,’ ” she said.
While she had very little experience riding mechanical bulls, she had plenty of experience riding and breaking horses since she was a child.
Without knowing what to expect, she registered for the event and she and Cody Moore set off back to Spangle to take on other riders from around the Northwest.
George Chicha, the event organizer, said he wanted to put together a mechanical bull riding championship since he first saw the movie “Urban Cowboy” nearly 40 years ago. The 72-year-old used to ride horses and held an affinity for rodeo competitions.
He wanted to start a competition where anyone 18 and older from around the world could show off their skills. The Aug. 24 competition was the inaugural bull riding championship, and Chicha said he wants it to be an annual event.
When Laura Moore arrived, she found out she was going to be competing against some pretty serious-looking cowboys.
“I was like, ‘Oh man, what did I get myself into,’ ” she said.
There were 24 competitors overall. Moore was one of four women who competed.
Going against the cowboys may have been intimidating at first, but Moore said she was inspired when Chicha spoke about how he wanted to bring women and men together rather than having them compete separately.
Chicha said that when researching the past winners of barrel-racing competitions and other rodeo events, it became clear that women had no problem keeping up with the men.
“I felt the women could do it … I knew they could ride as good,” he said.
Moore said she was pumped when she heard that.
“I wanted to win this for the women,” she said.
That is exactly what she did.
She qualified for the top 10 after competing in two rounds where she stayed on the mechanical bull for 33 and 35 seconds. In the final round, she held on for 57 seconds to claim the title, nearly $4,500 in a cash prize and a commemorative belt buckle labeling her as the mechanical bull riding champion of the world.
“I was a little blown away by the support of the crowd cheering for me,” she said.
The second-place finisher was bucked off at 52 seconds.
Moore was excited to show that a woman could win, and said her two children were excited for her to bring home the golden belt.
For Chicha, he said the first bull riding world championship was a success.
“I don’t think we could have written a better script, to tell you the truth,” he said.