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Meet the Member Riggin Shippy
story by Lily Weinacht
“There’s nothing more I want to do than make a living riding bulls. Someday I’d like to be a world champion,” says Riggin Shippy. The 17-year-old bull rider from Colome, South Dakota, took home his first state title last season as the 2018 SDHSRA Bull Riding Champion. “I was sitting second coming into the finals, and I’d set out that spring and told myself I was going to win state. I don’t think you can win unless you’re planning on it. I won the first round, and that was probably one of my better rides I’ve ever had and a pretty good feeling. I was second in the second round and I was the only one to cover in the short round, so all you can do is ride what they run under you.”
Riggin’s debut at the NHSFR was equally exciting for him, and although he didn’t make the buzzer either round, he enjoyed the experience. “I’m definitely looking forward to going back this year and coming home with that saddle. It’s always cool to meet all the new people from all the different places, and the atmosphere is crazy with all the different people and fans.” In 2018 Riggin was also the reserve state bull riding champion in his 4-H rodeo association for the second consecutive year, and his SDHSRA title earned him a spot at the 2019 20X Extreme Showcase Rodeo in February. “I have a lot of respect for the animals and know how athletic they are, and I love the adrenaline rush it gives you. There’s no better feeling than stepping off an 1,800-pound animal doing something that really should be impossible—it’s a pretty good feeling.
“I look up to my buddy Denver Jochem,” Riggin adds. “He rode bulls when he was younger and met my dad, and over the years he’s helped me and my little brother out, pushing us to be the best bull riders we can be. And I also give all the glory to God for this because He’s the only reason we’re able to do this, I believe, and that helps me out a lot too.” Riggin and his 14-year-old brother, Riley, also have ample opportunities to practice on their dad’s bulls. Randy Shippy rode bulls and now operates the Midwest Bucking Bull Association, along with raising bucking bulls. From April through October, the siblings and their parents, Randy and Jennie, produce a bull riding each month at their arena, and they’ve also taken bulls to the PBR Finals. “Whenever we’re not in school or wrestling practice during the wintertime, we’re running bulls through and working them,” says Riggin. He also works on his drop barrel or stationary barrel daily, and rides and jumps his horse bareback. His 7-year-old sister, Charlee, also loves to ride, and runs barrels at junior rodeos.
Like the individual sport of bull riding, Riggin also enjoys the individual sport of wrestling through Colome High School. Last year he was a state qualifier, and he’s working to finish his senior year with another qualification. He’s also considering college rodeo. “Wrestling keeps me and my brother pretty busy, and after that we’re back to riding bulls full-time. Either we head to a rodeo, or we’re at home bucking bulls or fixing fence. We have about 100 head of bulls right now,” says Riggin. “This year I plan to win another state title, and take that national title too. Then later on in the future, I’d like to be a world champion.”