Riley Webb — the Denton pro you may not know — positioned to win national rodeo title
Riley Webb learned a whole lot at this time last year when he hit the dirt at the National Finals Rodeo.
One of the top pro athletes to grow up in Denton in recent years finished 10th in tie-down roping in his first appearance at the 10-day event. He’s the odds-on favorite to bring home the gold belt buckle that goes to the national champion when this season’s NFR that begins Friday wraps up at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Webb has earned $280,404 and enters the finals with just under a $74,000 lead in prize money over Shad Mayfield heading into the finals.
The winner of each round will take home a little more than $30,000 on each of the 10 nights of the event in calf roping.
“Finishing 10th last year lit a fire under me,” Webb said this week as he prepared for the finals. “I want to have a chance to win that gold buckle this year. That would mean the world to me. I rope for a living, but the gold buckle has been my goal and my dream since I started roping.”
Tie-down roping involves each competitor starting from a box at the end of an arena on his horse. A calf is released from an adjacent enclosure and gets a head start.
The competitor chases the calf on his horse and lassos it. The horse stops, allowing the cowboy to jump down to the arena floor, race to the calf, toss it to the ground and tie three of its legs together with a short rope he carries in his teeth before throwing his hands in the air to signal he has finished the timed event.
The best tie-down ropers in the world complete runs in under 10 seconds.
Webb took up the sport early in his life. His parents, Dirk and Jennifer Webb, run Webb Roping Productions and Ultimate Calf Roping. The family raises calves that are used in tie-down roping competitions as well as running calf-roping events.
Dirk and Jennifer took Riley to the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo less than a month after he was born.
Webb took to the rodeo and has quickly risen through the ranks of the top tie-down ropers in the world. He feels good about his chances to hold on to his lead and win this year’s title.
“I learned a lot the first time,” Webb said. “It’s like anything else. You are always better the second time around. It’s a marathon, not a sprint out here in the finals. You learn the routine.”
The success Webb enjoyed this season has helped put him in position to wrap up the title in the finals. He has purchased two horses to add to the group he uses in rodeos, one after last year’s finals and another during the season this year.
Webb has also settled into a routine on the circuit.
“Getting the nerves out of the way is huge,” Webb said. “I have a lot of confidence.”
The results have been impressive. Webb was last season’s Resistol Rookie of the Year and this year smashed the record for winnings by a tie-down roper ahead of the NFR of $203,508 set by Mayfield in 2022.
“I’ve had some big wins and placed a lot,” Webb said. “I got a check every time I had the chance.”
That run has helped make Webb a star in the rodeo realm and put the local pro on the verge of winning a national championship. He knows he’ll have plenty of people cheering for him back in his hometown today.
“I’m so thankful for the city of Denton for supporting me,” Webb said. “I have roped there my whole life. The North Texas State Fair and Rodeo was the first rodeo I ever went to. Having that support means a lot.”