Unexpected – perhaps.
Surprising – maybe.
Intriguing – absolutely.
Beneath the long sleeve shirts, cowboy hats and jeans of rodeo contestants, there just might be some surprises.
There are many stereotypes associated with tattoos. As society has changed, what once was a mentality of “don’t look,” has turned to “cool, check that out.” In fact, as tattoos have gained popularity in urban cultures, there has also been a rise among rodeo contestants.
Tattoos have been part of the Western culture for years. After all, they have been and are still used to identify horses and cattle. While cowboys with tattoos might seem to be an oxymoron, it really shouldn’t be a big surprise. Cowboys like art – just look at the popularity of western art shows. Cowboys like decoration – saddles with tooling and bits and spurs with silver inlay are part of their everyday lives. Cowboys aren’t afraid of pain – whether they are a rodeo contestant or work on a ranch, pain is part of their lives. So, cowboys with tattoos really isn’t a stretch.
With that in mind, we found some rodeo contestants that have their own ink and throughout the year we are going to share that with you.
Chase Brooks –
Montana native Chase Brooks qualified for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo last year. A highlight of that experience was tying for the win in round seven with Wade Sundell. They each scored 90 points. The horse that Chase rode was one that he was very familiar with, Diamond Fever of Corey & Lange Rodeo. That horse also carried him to a title at the St. Paul Rodeo last July with an 87.5. The $9,997 he won there helped the 24-year-old secure his first trip to Las Vegas.
He had another big accomplishment when he won his first national title March 24th at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Florida. That was the culmination of a goal set when he first joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 2013. It was his second time representing the Montana Circuit. He won both the Semifinals and Finals there and along with the money he got along the way, he left Florida with nearly $25,000.
“I always like to go to Florida,” he said. “Sometimes we have some extra time and will go surfing and do some fun stuff. This year it was just rodeo. It’s such a prestigious rodeo to win and has such great horses. It’s always fun.”
Chase gives the first impression of being a typical, ranch-raised saddle bronc rider — and he is. He never goes anywhere without his hat, and preferred attire is a long sleeve, pearl-snap shirt with a pair of Wrangler Jeans. His taste in music runs the gamut, but includes Texas Country. When he’s not at a rodeo or training for competition, he loves being outdoors and doing anything active. He is a fitness junkie, has played every generation of Pokemon and is hooked on tattoos.
His mom got some tattoos when she was in college, and Chase always thought that was cool. As he got older and his love of bucking horses grew, so did his fascination with tattoos. So, figuring out what his first tattoo was going to be was a natural progression of his passion.
He drew it out on paper, took it to the tattoo artist and with that collaboration, Chase got the first of many tattoos, a saddle bronc rider on a bucking horse. That was a good experience and it wasn’t long until he was planning his next tattoo.
“Nobody expects me to have tattoos. I love them and I’ll probably never quit getting them.” Chase said. “They are fun to get, and they look cool. People tell me I’ll regret it when I’m 60. If I care what people think when I’m 60, then I did something else wrong.”
Chase has had his tattoos done at Spadeball Ink in Butte, Montana. He likes skulls and roses and those work well with color that doesn’t fade. The centerpiece of his left sleeve is a skull that has a distinct western flare. He saw a tattoo on a man’s forearm that had a skull with a bowler hat and mustache that he liked. He took a picture of it, sent it to his artist added a cowboy hat and punched up the mustache. It makes him smile every time he looks at it.
His sleeve extends up on his shoulder with a tree that has roots that are intertwined with the other elements all the way down and a tree on his forearm with roots that work their way up. It is a work in progress.
They have spent 18-20 hours on it so far. He had some work done on it a couple of weeks prior to “Cowboy Christmas,” the Fourth-of-July rodeo run last year. For rodeo contestants, getting tattoos also must coincide with their schedules. They need time to heal, and if they use athletic tape, the removal of it can remove ink as well.
“It’s hard,” Chase explained. “I never had any done in an area where I had to tape. But if you have it done and you’re going to be home working out, you have to be careful or you will sweat the ink out.”
Chase loves color and it shows in the vibrancy of his tattoos. He also likes black and white and the message that they impart. His sleeve reminds him to be “Fearless,” and across his right shoulder is another quote – Death says to me, “Live now for I am coming.”
While his mom influenced his love of tattoos, his dad has not always been on the same page.
“My dad is the ranchiest guy I know.” Chase said. “We finally talked him into getting a tattoo, and now he thinks they are pretty cool.”
That tattoo is a four-leaf clover that is shared by every member of his family. It is symbolic of their Irish heritage.
After the sleeve is completed, he’s not sure what he’s going to do next, but it will likely involve his other passion: riding saddle bronc horses. He has already sent a photo of his ride on Diamond Fever from the NFR to his artist and they are rendering it. Chase wants to have diamonds flying out around it and while he isn’t sure, he thinks it will go on his ribs. He also is planning to have something done with his first back number.
“I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with my back number yet,” he said. “I’ll definitely get it. I’ve looked at other guys and seen a lot that I like. But I’m going to be pretty picky about it and want something really original.”
Fitting for a traditional, ranch-raised cowboy who is one of the best saddle bronc riders in the PRCA. Chase Brooks is an original.