Meet the Member Josh Barnett

by Rodeo News

story by Lindsay Whelchel

There’s a saying, ‘jump first, fear later,’ and there’s perhaps no better way to embrace that than to do what Australian cowboy, Josh Barnett, did for his 21st birthday. He got on a plane and headed to America for the very first time to compete for a whole summer season in the International Professional Rodeo Association riding broncs.
“It was kind of a last minute decision really, but it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do,” he describes. Josh grew up on his family’s ranch with a beef cattle feedlot, baling hay and raising Australian Quarter Horses and stock horses. He credits his family for their support and getting him his start at a young age, driving him around to competitions.
He’s grown up competing on the family’s horses and rode steers as a kid, before turning to riding bulls and broncs.
“I only started riding broncs probably four years ago, and I will probably stick with broncs now,” he says adding that he’s come to America to focus solely on riding broncs, and it’s been paying off exponentially.
Josh has shot to the top of the IPRA standings since his recent arrival in June.
Back home in Australian, he’s still getting his start in the rookie levels as well, so it was a perfect time to cross the ocean and try his hand in the professional ranks with the IPRA, especially with its prevalence in the eastern half of the United States and Canada.
The successes of fellow Australians, Ty Parkinson, Luke Morgan, and Josh’s traveling partner, Ben Maytom, who all have multiple championship titles and IFR qualifications among them, has motivated Australian competitors who have followed their journey, and Josh was one of them.
“I’ve always been friends with Ben, and we followed him when he was over here the last few years, and he asked me to come over,” Josh says. It was a scary choice he admits, having to make the leap and quit his job, but he did it. “It was hard. I didn’t know whether to quit my job, but I came and did it while I could. It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do, so I did it.”
Josh admits he’s been pleasantly surprised by how things are going.
“I’ve had a bit of luck and drew some really good horses, and I’ve been lucky to pick up good money so far.”
Rodeos in America and Canada are bigger than back home, he describes and says he’s been impressed by their professionalism. It’s also a much busier schedule than he’s used to.
“Lots of driving, lots of road nights compared to back home where you can only really do one a weekend, if that. You can do one every day here. We’ve got, I think, one day off in July,” he laughs.
Josh says he’s enjoyed meeting so many fellow contestants in both countries.
“It’s definitely a good way to meet people. Everyone gets on good. It’s a good group of people. It’s a good environment to be around that’s for sure.”
Rodeo overall, especially making this big of a commitment to it as he’s done this summer, has impacted the young cowboy and taught him a lot about dedication.
“You’ve definitely got to give it 100 percent. You can’t half-hearted do it. That’s probably been my problem for the last couple of years, I’ve been half-trying to ride bulls, half-trying to [ride broncs], so it makes it a lot easier if you just focus everything on what you want to do and chase it, for sure.”
And as far as chasing it goes, Josh is certainly hot on its heels so far with a strong shot at his first International Finals Rodeo qualification come January.

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