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Meet the Member Ryder Loeb
story by Michele Toberer
All-around cowboy, Ryder Loeb, is readying himself for his fourth International Miniature Rodeo Association finals, to be held in conjunction with the International Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at the end of January. The 11-year-old is a typical sixth-grader at his elementary school, Immanuel Lutheran, in Washington, Missouri, where he loves to play basketball, baseball, and run cross-country; and especially enjoys learning about world history. At home, he has typical chores, like taking care of Josey, his Aussie/Corgi cross, and Hurley, his sorrel gelding handed down to him from his dad. But, with rodeo blood coursing through his veins, being a typical student is just one aspect of the young cowboy, and visions of a future in the rodeo arena are primarily what fills his mind.
Coming by it honest, Ryder’s parents, Leah and Jeff Loeb, have both rodeoed for years, and it was rodeo that brought them together. Leah grew up in the rodeo arena, as her parents, Dona and Bobby Moellman, set the example before her. Dona was an accomplished barrel racer in the Midwest, and Bobby was a bull rider from the age of 18 until retiring at over 40 years old. Competing in multiple associations, Leah still enters as a barrel racer and breakaway roper, and Jeff as a calf roper. Besides starting Ryder out in junior associations from the time he was four years old, the couple was happy to include Ryder in rodeos they entered, co-sanctioned by the Missouri Rodeo Cowboys Association and the International Professional Rodeo Association. When Ryder’s parents aren’t in the rodeo arena with him, Leah is the Senior Manager in the IT department of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and Jeff works in his family-owned barbershop in Owensville, Missouri.
With a background of rough stock and timed events in Ryder’s family, becoming an all-around cowboy was quite natural for him. He started out mutton busting and goat tying before stepping up to calf riding, winning the Champion Calf Rider title in the Flickerwood Youth Association for three consecutive years. Progressing up the ranks as he has grown, besides competing with the IMRA, Ryder is now competing in his rookie year with the Missouri Junior High School Rodeo Association, where he competes in ribbon roping, breakaway roping, goat tying, and bull riding.
Now that he’s riding in the junior bull division, watching her son from the stands can be nerve-wracking, “I think it helps that I grew up watching my dad ride bulls, it makes it easier knowing what to expect, but I still get nervous when Ryder rides bulls. I do have comfort in knowing he’s been taught such strong fundamentals and has been coached by my dad. I can trust that they have it all in control.” Ryder’s grandpa is generally there at each of his rodeos to help put him on his bulls. “I really appreciate all the help my grandpa has given me, he’s hauled many miles to be there for me.”
“It’s pretty cool being able to compete at the IFR, I’m glad that the IMRA finals are held there. One day, I’d like to compete in the IPRA when I’m older.” At home, to prepare for the bulls he’ll be riding, he practices by doing drills on his donkey, Mary Kate, and his bucking barrel. “I like to watch some of the professional bull riders also. I’m a fan of Sage Kimzey and JB Mauney. I like how they ride, they’re just very good. JB never backs down and is really tough. Before I get on a bull, I hit my leg and slap my face like JB does, it gets me ready to ride. And, I love when they play Bad to the Bone, or Thunderstruck. I think it would be really cool to rodeo for a living.”
Ryder looks forward to competing at the IMRA finals where he will see many of his friends from all over the country and hopes to add a world title to his list of rodeo accomplishments.