Winning bull rider Dally Sears doesn’t let fear interfere
By Dianna Troyer
The key to riding bulls is to not think about it—to relax and have a joy ride, says Raft River High School junior Dally Sears.
“If you think about what’s going to happen, you might get nervous and not have a good ride,” Dally says. “In the chutes while we’re waiting for our gate to open, my buddies and I crack jokes and keep each other laughing.”
His strategy has been successful. Last fall, Dally compiled 1,341 points to win first place in his age group in the Rocky Mountain Region of Leal’s Junior Bull Riding Championship series. It qualified him for a slot at the Junior World Finals in Las Vegas in December.
Whenever he rides, Dally says he does not think about being hurt, although he acknowledges risks. To protect him from a gyrating 1-ton bull, he wears a helmet and padded vest.
Dally says his priority is having a good time, and how he places is of secondary importance.
“It’s all about doing what makes you happy,” says Dally, who began riding competitively when he was 7. “If you’re not having fun, you might as well hang it up.”
Dally had fun at the Junior World Finals. After three rides, he placed sixth with 214 points in the 14-to-15-year-old age division. He was experienced at the finals, having competed at the event in 2018 and 2019.
“I was satisfied, considering the caliber of the bulls,” Dally says. “This year, they didn’t buck as much as I would have liked.”
To keep the good times rolling this winter, Dally plans to compete at several events in northern Utah and to enroll in the College of Southern Idaho Rough Stock School in late February.
His winter season is restful compared to summer when he competed in about 30 rodeos in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Since he started competing as a child, Dally has accumulated numerous prizes and checks for his efforts. Trophies stand in his family’s entertainment center. Boxes are filled with more than 20 buckles. He wears coats and uses gear bags he was awarded. When he was 13, he won a team roping saddle.
“It’s good to give back, too,” Dally says. “Last fall, a futurity in Tremonton was a fundraiser for a local resident, so I was glad to donate part of my winnings to her.”
Dally credits his supportive family for his success.
“You have to surround yourself with people who keep you up and cheer you on,” he says. “I grew up in a rodeo family.”
His sister Jadyn records his rides and totes his gear bag to the truck for him.
“We cheer each other on,” Dally says. “She competes in rodeo queen contests and is the Atomic Days Junior Queen in Arco.”
His mother, Maliesa, says she is his driver, secretary and runs the chute for him.
Jade, his father, is often behind the chutes watching.
“There’s a lot going on there,” Jade says. “It’s exciting. You’re just there in the moment. I don’t get nervous for Dally. I know he’s got this.”
Since childhood, Dally seemed destined to compete in rodeos and live up to his name—reference to wrapping the rope around the saddle horn. “We knew that we wanted his name to be unique and geared to our lifestyle,” Maliesa says. “We settled on Dally, and it stuck. He comes from a long line of cowboys, ranchers and rodeo athletes.”
As he grew up, Dally gravitated toward bull riding. He enrolled in schools in eastern Idaho and Montana to hone his techniques.
Maliesa says one of his favorite childhood movies was “8 Seconds,” about legendary bull rider Lane Frost. His favorite pastime was watching instructional bull riding videos made by Gary Leffew, a world champion bull rider who is nicknamed “the rodeo guru of positive thinking.”
“When Dally was a baby and toddler, the only way to calm him down or get him to sleep was to play ‘8 Seconds’ or Gary Leffew videos,” Maliesa says. “He still watches those videos. We must have three VHS tapes of ‘8 Seconds’ floating around the house. He takes great care of the Gary Leffew videos, too. They belonged to his Uncle Jax.”
Dally says his uncle, Jaxson Sears, rode bulls and inspired him.
“He gave me my first bull rope,” Dally says. “I’d hang on to it and sit on the arm of the couch and imagine myself riding. It was always on the couch, and I never went far without it.”
When he was 3, “my dad started putting me on sheep,” Dally says. “For the next three years, I rode steers and mini bulls until I was ready for the size I ride now.”
A memorable achievement last fall was placing fourth at the Turkey Bull Bash in Tremonton.
“It was a big deal because he was competing against National Finals Rodeo qualifiers,” Maliesa says.
After high school, Dally hopes to join the College of Southern Idaho’s rodeo team.
“Eventually, I’d like to ride on the professional circuit,” he says. “That would be the most fun of all.”