Skip to main content

Rodeo Rider Finds Blessings through Brokenness

Tom Buehring


Share This article

Few occupations are subjected to the jarring ups and downs, like those above a rodeo floor and bucking broncos. Chad Rutherford has lived it, as one of the world's top bareback riders he’s overcome both professional and personal challenges with resolve.

Question: “How do you describe your riding style?”

Chad: “Aggressive, very aggressive.”

Question: “And you're a competitor.” 

Chad: “Absolutely!” 

Question: “At your core?” 

Chad: “Yes.” 

Question: “So the two marry well together?”

Chad: “In the most beautiful way possible.”

Question: “For you, how much uncertainty comes with your profession as a bareback rider?”

Chad: “There's nothing certain about being a bareback rider. Between entering the rodeo to the time the buzzer blows, there's no certainty in any of it. It's the biggest walk of faith I think you can have.”

Question: “2016, you finished 24th in the world, then you go to Reno. What happened?”

Chad: “When I showed up in Reno, 2017, I was sitting 8th in the world. And then tragedy hit. I fell underneath my bucking horse and he stepped on the middle of my back. I broke 8 ribs in 13 places, cracked my collarbone and my shoulder blade, and collapsed my lung. I spent a week in the hospital. All I could think was ‘Yup, my career’s over, its time to move on to the next step!’”

Chad’s next step was life altering.

Chad: “What came after was what really set in. Not a week after getting home my wife at the time told me that she wanted to move out. That she didn’t want to be married to me anymore. I was devastated! I went into a bad place! And I just felt this empty hole. I had no idea what to do. Not long after the divorce, I met my wife Katie. And all I can describe her as is a Godsend! Meeting her saved my life! I thank God everyday for Katie!”

Question: “In those moments of desperation what was the bounce-back for you?” 

Chad: “It took a year or so. Putting the puzzle together and actually seeing that wreck in Reno was the greatest thing that ever happened to me! That was God’s way of grabbing me and saving my future and giving me the start I have today!”

Question: “How did a savior help you compete again?”

Chad: “The aftermath of that injury was all the nerve damage I sustained. I was losing muscle mass on the right side of my body, which I ride with my right hand. I had to take a job. After doing some extensive manual labor, I woke up one morning and the entire right side of my upper torso was sore. For me it was a massive eye opener. I never thought I'd feel those muscles like that again. God was like, ‘Okay, you took the time you needed.' We started training. Took a massive leap of faith! 2019 rolled around and I started entering some rodeos and it was just like I had never stopped. I started winning again.”

Question: “Your sport is about fearlessness. What in your life are you afraid of that draws you to Him for help?” 

Chad: “I would say fear itself is my biggest draw towards Christ. Fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of being left alone. I now know that I'm never alone as long as I have Christ, and He's always there. The older I get, the deeper I dig into Christ, the more I find how great and how much He has taken care of me.”

Question: “Have you ever had to push away as if the sport has become too much?”

Chad: “Absolutely. One of the biggest battles that Rodeo Cowboys face with rodeo is idolatry. We idolize rodeos. We idolize that gold buckle. We idolize the money we make. We idolize it so much that we sacrifice everything – friends, family. It’s so easy to fall into that trap! I’ve got a wife and two kids right now and I’m rodeo’ing the best way I think I can – putting God and my family first. So glorify Him and love what you do!” 

Question: “Who is Jesus Christ to you, what has He become for you?”

Chad: “Jesus Christ for me has become the greatest friend I’ve ever had. He’s the Father everyone wants. He should be your first thought when you need something. Lean on God. Ask Him for it. Ask and you’ll receive. You may not receive exactly what you want, but you will receive what you need.”

Share This article

About The Author

Tom Buehring

Tom currently travels as a National Sports Correspondent for The 700 Club and CBN News. He engages household sports names to consider the faith they’ve discovered within their own unique journey. He has over 30 years of experience as a TV sports anchor, show host, reporter and producer, working commercially at stations in Seattle, Tampa, Nashville and Fayetteville where he developed, launched and hosted numerous nightly and weekly shows and prime-time specials. Prior to his TV market hopping, Tom proposed and built an academic/intern television broadcast program at the University of North