Kissimmee native Kaley Bass is making quite a splash in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) this 2014 season. No longer a rookie on the professional rodeo circuit she’s been traveling for the past three years, Bass has been a competitor to watch since she first joined instead, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year race in 2011, as well as being chosen the Southeastern Rookie of the Year. Perhaps even more impressively, she was ranked #22 in the world her first year out. Now at only 21, she is currently ranked #1 in the WPRA World – Pro Rodeo Standings.
The road to the success Bass is currently celebrating began when she was a young girl, riding at the age of 8, following in the footsteps of her older sister Kristen. They both competed in rodeo during high school, on sibling horses they acquired in 2003. Wonders Cowboy Dan (Cowboy for short) and his sister Girl Pal Wonder (called Cowgirl) were ages 3 and 4 respectively when the Bass family got them, and neither horse had been competitive before the Basses began to barrel race with them. Both Cowboy and Cowgirl were bred and raised here in Kissimmee at Sbelle Brand Farms, owned by Se’Belle Dymmek.
Bass enjoyed great success in her freshman year of high school, as she won the Florida state high school title and finished third at nationals. However, she moved on from high school rodeo in her sophomore year and began competing in open barrel races and rodeos until she turned 18 and was able to join the WPRA. She attributes much of her success to her family’s support over the years: father, Quinton; mom, Tracy; and sister, Kristen.
Rising quickly through the ranks in the three short years she has been competing professionally, Bass and Cowboy have made a memorable impression on competitors. In addition to the many wins and accolades his rider has accumulated, this year Cowboy has been named the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) Horse of the Year for 2014. In interviews, Bass often attributes her success to Cowboy and his heart to compete, as well as their teamwork on the course. In a 2012 interview, Bass said, “The best thing about Cowboy is his try. He’s smart about ground, he is not going to hurt himself but he always works and tries for me. He is the type of horse that gives 100% no matter what. Cowboy has the biggest heart.”
Building on her first three solid years in pro rodeo, this year has seen meteoric success for Bass. Earning less than $10,000 in prize money over the first few months of the season, her summer brought some big wins, including the Calgary Stampede in mid-July, which earned her $115,000. In fact, in the month of July she won the “Hottest in July” award given by Pro Fantasy Rodeo- an award given to the cowboy or cowgirl from the PRCA and WPRA who won the most prize money from July 1-July 28, meaning she earned more than any other pro rodeo competitor in the month of July.
The standings in WPRA are based on qualifying winnings, and Bass has earned enough in 50 rodeos to put her on top with $155,279.55 going into October of 2014. To put that in perspective, other competitors in the top 20 have less than half her prize money after showing at more than 100 rodeos. Additionally, she is the only Floridian in the top 20 at the beginning of October. Her success in July prompted her to shift her season goals from making the finals to striving to win the world championship. In an article she wrote for Women’s Pro Rodeo News, she stated, “It still puts butterflies in my stomach when the announcer states that I am ranked No. 1 in the world!”
Still touring, Bass will compete in Las Vegas at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo December 4-13, her third consecutive appearance in the finals. She is hoping to beat her 2012 and 2013 finishes at 6th place with a fairy tale finish at the top.