In a Rare Class: Cochise Retires with Average Ride Score of More than 90 Points

In a Rare Class: Cochise Retires with Average Ride Score of More than 90 Points Photo courtesy

Gene Owen went outside to feed his livestock on Tuesday morning in Big Cabin, Oklahoma, and he could not help but laugh at what he saw.
Down the alleyway of his backpens, Owen saw Cochise standing in the middle and rubbing his head against one of the fences.
Owen had decided to retire Cochise less than 24 hours earlier, and the 9-year-old bull had snuck out of his pen in the middle of the night.

“I thought, ‘What are you doing down there?’ Owen said with a laugh. “He was kind of rubbing on the fence. There were a couple of other bulls down there, and it was like he was bragging that he did not have to go and gets to stay home.”
Owen and his partner Jane Clark announced on Monday evening they are retiring the five-time PBR World Finals qualifier following an illustrious six-year career in which Cochise went 51-22 (44.11 points) on the premier series and 60-23 overall.  
Riders averaged 90.2 points aboard Cochise, and 15 riders combined to win more than $845,000 and five premier series events courtesy of the 2,000-pound animal.
 “I didn’t realize that his average score was 90 points until I saw on TV,” Owen said, referencing the PBR on CBS Sports Network. “To retire him being pretty close to that, that is a pretty short list of bulls. I thought, I don’t want his average to be less than 90. I looked on ProBullstats and saw there was 15 90-plus rides on him. That is a great career, and why not push it more than what it was.”
In fact, Cochise’s average ride scores ranks No. 8 all time, and he is one of only 10 bulls in PBR history who were ridden 15 or more times for an average of 90 points or higher. Cripple Creek Promise Land ranks No. 1 all time with an average ride score of 92.64.
Owen is extremely proud of that number, and he wanted Cochise to be able to retire with his average score intact.
“I had seen this coming,” Owen said. “Not being in the short round and being rode for low scores, I just didn’t want to see it. A lot of guys would have bucked him another year or two. I didn’t want to do that to him. He owes us nothing. Jane (Clark) was good with it. She knew it was coming.”

Cochise most recently was ridden by Tye Chandler for 87.25 points this past weekend at the Caterpillar Classic in Kansas City, Missouri. Owen said that Cochise was not hurt or injured in Kansas City, and that his bull is healthy. It was rather a decision that he had been thinking about for the past few months.
Owen had known at the end of last year that Cochise was beginning to lose a little bit of the intensity that he once had, but hewas hopeful three months off and some added weight would help Cochise return to the form he once displayed during his prime.
Cochise bucked Taylor Toves off in Oklahoma City in 4.47 seconds before Edgar Durazo (89 points at the Global Cup USA) and Chandler picked up qualified rides.
However, the added weight did not result in Cochise regaining his previous form, and he was beginning to look less like a championship round-caliber bull.
“Putting that weight back on, I was thinking he would get more strength, but he got slower,” Owen said. “After I bucked him Sunday, I sent (PBR Director of Livestock) Cody (Lambert) a message saying I would like to buck him one last time in Tulsa and then be done.
“Well, that is 6 months away. That really didn’t make much sense. Me and Jane talked about it yesterday because I hadn’t said nothing to her. But she said she knew that (retirement) was probably coming this year, but let’s just retire him right now and not take a chance of something happening.”

World leader Jose Vitor Leme leads all riders with four qualified rides in five attempts aboard Cochise.
Leme was first bucked off by Cochise in 1.5 seconds two years ago in Kansas City. The 2017 PBR World Finals event winner would never buck off Cochise again, though, riding him for 91.25 points (New York, 2019), 92 points (Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2019), 92.75 points (Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2019) and 91 points (2019 PBR World Finals).

The 23-year-old won $190,296.19 aboard Cochise in his four qualified rides.
During Leme’s last-minute push to try to win the world title on the final day of the 2019 PBR World Finals, he had selected Cochise for the Round 5 draft and proceeded to ride him for 91 points.
“I will miss him,” Leme said. “He give me a lot of money. He’s not good only for me, but for everybody that ride him, he’s pretty good to make a high score.”
Owen said some of his favorite memories of Cochise in the arena just happen to be with Leme.
Whenever Leme selected or was matched up with Cochise, Owen expected to see greatness from the two athletes.
“When Jose rode him for 92.75 in Albuquerque, that was the highest they have ever been on him, and Albuquerque is such a special place,” Owen said. “Just him picking him there at the Finals. He had that much confidence in him. Every time he picked him, that is my best memory of him.”

Derek Kolbaba (3-for-4) owns the record for the most money won with Cochise with $205,485. Kolbaba won the 2017 Bad Boy Mowdown in Little Rock, Arkansas – where the Unleash The Beast is actually headed this coming weekend – with an 89.5-point ride on Cochise.
Kolbaba then finished third at the 2018 PBR World Finals with 91 points on Cochise in the championship round.
In ways, it is fitting the two had so much success together. The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider grew up getting on practice bulls in Prosser, Washington, at Craig Wentz and Wentz Bucking Bulls ranch.

It was there that Kolbaba was still in high school when he would stare at a 3-year-old chocolate brown gargantuan by the name of Cochise.
“He was HUGE,” Kolbaba recalled in Little Rock, Arkansas, three years ago. “I was like, there is no way he is 3. It is pretty cool to get him rode here and have this memory.”
Kolbaba added on Tuesday night, "I remember the first time the bull was bucked with a rider...he was 3 years old and by far the biggest bull there and he damn sure bucked. A lot of highlights of my career were on Cochise. Definitely has had an outstanding career as a top bucking bull in the PBR."
Cochise caught Owen’s eye during the 2015 PBR World Finals.
At the time, Cochise was a young bovine with plenty of potential under the tutelage of Wentz Bucking Bulls. Cochise earned a berth for his first PBR World Finals after first debuting on the premier series in Seattle with a 2.62-second buckoff of Alex Cardozo on March 27, 2015.
Two months later, two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney became the first to reach the 8 seconds on Cochise by riding him for 88.25 points at Last Cowboy Standing.
Owen was impressed with Cochise at the Finals when he watched the bovine athlete dispatch Douglas Duncan in 5.72 seconds for a 44.25-point score.
Owen’s bulls were actually penned near Wentz’s during the Finals that week, and he joked with Wentz about buying any of his bulls. Owen had previously failed to convince Wentz to sell him three-time PBR World Finals qualifier Buckey years before, so he figured Wentz would not be willing to part ways with Cochise.
A few weeks later, though, Owen’s phone rang.
“Craig said their son was in college, and the family talked it over and said they probably ought to sell that bull,” Owen said. “Me and Jane were partners for four or five years, but we never had a great bull. We had a few go to the Finals, but not a great bull. If you know Jane’s history, she has the best horses and riders and everything. She had wanted a great bull. She told me six months before Cochise that she didn’t want any more bulls unless they were going to be superstars.”
Two months later, Owen was hauling Cochise to New York City and flanking him inside “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
Paulo Lima would become the first rider to post 90 points on Cochise, covering the bovine athlete for 90 points at the first PBR Major event in the Big Apple.

Cochise then bucked off his next 17 opponents until Kolbaba rode him in Arkansas 14 months later.
At that time, Cochise was a bull riders tried to avoid more often than not in the championship round draft.
However, in an attempt to increase Cochise’s bull scores in 2018, Owen switched his bull to a left-handed delivery in September of that season. While major bull scores did not ensue, ride scores did.
Ryan Dirteater rode Cochise for 90.75 points in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and riders quickly began to fall in love with Cochise. They knew they could ride the bovine athlete for a monster ride of over 90 points, and get a massive payday in return with him firing out of the left-handed delivery.
“Well, on the right side he was bucking them off pretty regular,” Owen said. “When they rode him, they were still over 90 most of the time. I remember the one of the first times we bucked him out of the left, it was Atlantic City and it was with Ryan Dirteater. He just turned back right into the gate and he was pretty nice. I knew they would like him.
“He used to be one of the last ones in the draft they picked, and then all of a sudden he went to being one of the first ones they would pick in the draft. It didn’t change his deal, but it was a time in his career that he needed to change. He never would have gotten the recognition if I left him on the other side.”
The bovine became a fan favorite – and a rider favorite – especially during the last two years as 90-point rides featuring Cochise began to spread all over social media and television.
Daylon Swearingen won his first career 15/15 Bucking Battle with a 92-point ride last August in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I’m glad I got to ride him one time,” Swearingen said. “It was my first 15/15 and I won it, so it was pretty special to me.”

Joao Ricardo Vieira went 3-for-5 against Cochise, including a massive 90.25 points to win his third Iron Cowboy title last year at the PBR’s first event in downtown Los Angeles.
“Since his arrival at PBR and his first event, Cochise has always been a showy bull,” Vieira said. “Cochise only grew within PBR, always being among the best bulls and being a good choice for competitors, because if you get the 8 seconds your score would always be around 90 points. Cochise has become one of the perfect picks to win big events. I am happy to have won third title of Iron Cowboy riding Cochise. I have to thank him for being a good bull.”

Cochise may have snuck out of his pen Monday night, but the veteran bull is not going anywhere anytime soon.
He will remain right there at home in Oklahoma.
Owen has plans to breed Cochise to a series of cows in hopes of building a new generation of bucking bull stars with Cochise’s bloodlines.
“He has cows to breed with, and he is in great shape,” Owen said. “Weight-wise, physically and everything. Especially for a big bull. He is 9 years old and, heck, he can breed cows for 10 more years now.”

By Justin Felisko/