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African American rodeo rider Milton Blanks grows his brand with wild horses

IMG_6881Name: Milton Blanks

Riding Club: Lazy T. Trailriders

Occupation: Welder and Professional Rodeo Rider

What got you interested in being a rodeo rider?

I’ve been [riding in the rodeo] since I was 2-years-old. When you do it from a kid and you are raised up on it, then you begin to crave it. My uncle got me started riding wild horses and by the time I hit 18-years-old, I was a well-known rodeo bucking horse rider. Houston had great rodeos but I knew that there were bigger rodeos out there so I started to travel to make more money.

What has been the hardest part of being a black rodeo rider?

The hardest part is trying to go to the pro rodeos and get in them. You are on the road a lot and it can be a strain on your home life.  I went to the CPRA national finals in 1998 under the Texas Rodeo Association, which was a huge turning point in my career. Texas riders are very aggressive but black cowboys don’t get the support that they need due to stereotypes from old western movies and images in the media that depict black cowboys as the dumb field wrangler. In actuality, African American cowboys are the hardest riders that you will ever meet; we just don’t get the funding and sponsorship like the Caucasian riders.

Why do you think you have been so successful as a black cowboy?

I got my start riding, training and breaking wild horses, which gave me a huge advantage in the rodeo arena. My focus going in was to get the horses that no one could ride or the horses that had never been ridden. Once the news got out about how good I was, I started getting emails and phone calls from rodeo promoters asking me to come and ride in their rodeo to put on a better show. The more I got on, the better the horses got, the better the facilities got, and the large crowd definitely keep you coming back.

What’s next for you?

I want to continue to build on my legacy by breaking wild horses and competing, but I am very focused on my children’s careers. My daughter barrel races and my son is into bucking bulls. I have taught them everything I know and they train very hard. I plan on seeing them make it to the nationals and then on to win world rodeo titles.