“Casey Tibbs – Born to Ride” may well be the best Western biography yet published. Expertly paced and beautifully written, this book will be read for generations to come.
Born in a log cabin in South Dakota, the youngest of ten children, Casey Tibbs became the premier rodeo rider of his day, winning six saddle bronc titles and nine all-around world champion titles. His saddle bronc riding success has only been matched once, never surpassed, and that was by Dan Mortensen.
The author, Rusty Richards -- a cowboy, singer, and former rodeo performer himself -- has done an excellent job of researching and interviewing scores of people who knew Casey in order to capture the essence of rodeo’s most charismatic performer. On his own from the age of fourteen, Casey rose to the top in his field. What makes Casey Tibbs stand out from so many other talented, athletes in rodeo, however, is that he dined with presidents and heads of state, directed and produced films, directed shows overseas that promoted the West and rodeo, and left a lasting legacy of a man who was generous to a fault, lived hard, loved hard, and laughed often.
Even though much of the biography is humorous because of Tibbs’ own outstanding sense of humor and mischievousness, the author doesn’t hide or avoid the truth of Casey’s alcohol and gambling addictions. Casey’s bouts with these predilections are understandable given his lifestyle choices. His incisive handling of his problems, however, is not only laudable, but inspiring, and shows the true grit and mettle of this unusual, charming, and enigmatic character. Overall the book is a tremendous testament to a man who is truly worth reading about.
Rodeo and Western fans will relish this biography, but whether one enjoys rodeo or not is beside the point. The man, Casey Tibbs, was simply remarkable and is worth knowing about for his merit as a kind, generous, outrageously funny, talented human being who helped make rodeo what it is today.
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