By Terry Lidral

Reigning Caldwell Night Rodeo Bull Riding Champion, Ruger Piva, is an Idaho cowboy.  When he’s not on the road at rodeos, he splits his time between his hometown of Challis and Caldwell.  So, when he made the winning ride on Bruiser on championship night in front of a packed crowd full of family and friends in the Caldwell Night Rodeo arena on August 17, 2019, it was truly a night to remember.

Piva’s Start in Rodeo

Piva started bull riding at junior rodeos when he was 9 years old and got on his first full-sized bull at the age of 13.  He went to the National High School Finals Rodeo his junior year of high school.  He competed on the rodeo team at the University of Western Montana (Dillon) and competed in the National College Finals Rodeo in 2017.  By the time Piva got his PRCA permit, he’d been to a lot of top tier bull riding amateur events and had been in a lot of pressure situations.

But, when Piva came to Caldwell as a PRCA contestant for the CNR, he got to see what a big-time pro rodeo event was all about.

“Growing up in Idaho, I knew about the CNR,” Piva said of the rodeo where he is now reigning champ.  “I had my permit in 2016 and I entered the CNR as a 19-year-old rookie.”

Riding as a rookie contestant in the PRCA Top Five Outdoor Rodeo, Piva had never experienced the level of bull power he would be facing. 

“I looked at the list of bulls that were out the night before. They were bulls I’d seen on TV in the PBR,” Piva told us.  “Seeing those bulls in person left me in awe.  Bruiser and Long John and some of the other D&H Cattle Company bulls were there.  Watching them on TV was nothing like experiencing it first-hand.”

Best in the world – Bruiser

When Piva saw Bruiser buck at the CNR in 2016, he felt destined to draw the D&H Cattle Company superstar somewhere down the line.  

“Bruiser was the one bull I always wanted to get on,” said Piva with a hint of reverence in his voice.  “That bull was one of the reasons I wanted to ride bulls professionally.  For some reason, when I saw him in 2016 at the CNR, I just knew that I was going to draw him here one day.” 

When Piva did finally draw Bruiser in the 2019 CNR Saturday night performance, he got excited.  But he was also scared he wouldn’t make good on his brags he’d made about drawing the bull.

“I found out that I’d drawn Bruiser at Caldwell a week before the performance.  For 6 days, I was excited and then it hit me the day before when I was at a rodeo in Gooding (Idaho).  It was like ‘Oh boy!’ Piva laughed.  “I always talked it up that someday I would draw Bruiser.  I didn’t want to tell many people at home because I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out.”

Bull riding in front of a hometown crowd

But word got out and family, friends and neighbors showed up to watch Piva’s ride on the three-time champion bull Bruiser.  And being championship Saturday night, the Caldwell arena crowd was standing room only.

“Half of Challis showed up to watch me,” Piva talked about the fans cheering him on.  “There will never be another night with that kind of atmosphere.  It was truly electric.”

But to have a chance at making a successful ride, Piva had to shut the crowd out.

“It was good energy, but I had to settle into the bucking chute and shut it all out.  I had to go about my business,” explained Piva.

That business was making a sensational ride on a champion bull for an amazing score of 92 points.  

“When I hit the dirt, the feeling was amazing.  The crowd was incredible.  Those 15 to 20 seconds in the arena after the ride will never be matched.  I just felt like a superstar.  Not even my win at Pendleton (Oregon) my rookie year comes close,” said Piva, his excitement evident at reliving the memory.

Piva is looking forward to returning to the 2021 CNR to defend his bull riding championship.  No matter how it turns out, he’ll always have the memories of the amazing night in 2019 he made the 92-point ride on Bruiser.

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