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Pro Rodeo’s Anthony Thomas Rides Life and Profession by Bareback!

Tom Buehring - 700 Club Producer

Anthony Thomas has lived life, much like how he rides a horse. Some by saddle, some by bareback! Anthony explains, “I was a troubled kid that ran away from home that had a dream to be a cowboy. God definitely placed horses in my life and in my heart. I was able to connect with a horse as a young, kid. I’ve chased wild horses all over the world. They're definitely - a soulful creature that comes from God - and it saved my life.”                  

The rodeo cowboy and professional bareback competitor left his home in Australia at 12 years old, surviving a difficult family life, recalling, “I had a pretty traumatic childhood! My parents had me doped up pretty bad on several different types of drugs. I knew that I was troubled and confused and I would've ended up in organized crime, or in jail, or dead if I had stayed there in that situation. Better off for me to stay away and being with the horses, the cows and the sheep, I knew that’s what gave me a sense of belonging.”   

That belonging came at a ranch – a “cattle station” near the boarding school where he was sent. Young Anthony found stability, identifying with the unbroken horses. Anthony says, “I think the immediate connection that I had with those wild horses that God placed me in front of, like me, they were confused and they had used their defense mechanisms to protect themselves and I could definitely relate to them in every way just because of the similarities in the way that we thought and the circumstances that were brought to us.”  

Working long hours, seven days a week, Anthony learned the art of breaking horses! Anthony says, “Establishing full trust between man versus beast! The horse has got to be in the mindset that he trusts you enough to want to do that for you. You can make these big creatures do things, but they're only are gonna give you probably 70% of what they can do. And when you can gain that full trust and have a full sense of understanding with the horse, then you'll get close to 100% out of your horse every time.”   

The connection to horses provided Anthony opportunities on them. His learned instincts and neglected upbringing prepared him as a bareback rider! “They say bareback riding is taking control of a completely uncontrollable situation," Anthony says, “the horse bucks, jumps in the air, is wild, changes directions and we just have to react and respond. And I think, you know, God prepared me to be a professional bareback rider just because I need to trust the Lord and the Holy Spirit's plan 100 percent, surrendering to the Lord. Than it's not up to me what happens.”   

As a teen, Anthony looked forward to the occasional weekend rodeos in the Australian outback. Anthony recalls, “The crews and all of the keen young cattle hands, we call ‘ringers’, would enter the rodeos and use their skills that they would use at their job every day, like riding bucking horses or catching bulls and showcase their talents. And I’d go to those local rodeos; I ended up doing really well in all the events that I entered. And I caught - the rodeo bug!”  

In 2011, Anthony won the Australian Bareback Title. The following year he moved to Canada aiming for a North American title. Anthony describes, “The horses are so much bigger and stronger and more athletic. The bucking horses in Canada and in the US are second to none! You know, the bright lights and the big stadiums, and the huge and everything was just so much different and obviously it pushed you to be far more of a professional athlete.”  

Injuries and surgeries mounted. So did distractions that came with the touring territory. Anthony explains, “You're in a different city, in a different town and there's always a bar, there's always womanizing and partying and making bad decisions. And for probably a good ten years of my life, I was as guilty as any man on earth, fighting and drinking and just all of the debauchery that comes with being in a party scene all the time. I remember being down in the dumps, at the lowest of lows.” 

By 2018, Anthony worked his way up, among the world’s best-15 bareback riders! But his life felt meaningless. On a second date, at the request of his - now wife Amanda - they visited a church service at Hope City in Houston.

Anthony describes, “The presence of the Holy Spirit just almost knocked me off my feet. I started crying, didn't know where it come from. And God was just speaking to me and it was a undeniable sense of conviction, hope and renewal, a transformation of my life to become an actual kingdom man, realizing how much of a relationship that I have with Jesus! That a can talk to Him as a friend. That He’s always going to be there for you. That He’s always going to provide for me.”   

While the pandemic shut down rodeos, Anthony opened a Farm to Table natural beef business. The past year also brought him a new perspective with empathetic strength. Anthony acknowledges, “2020 really opened my eyes to underlying racism. I think empathy is so important! The Western industry is a predominantly while culture. It’s not judgmental to anybody it’s just the way it is. Even though I am a different color to everybody else in the bareback riding sport – you would hope that the judges in the sport have everybody in their best interest. But, it’s not something I can allow myself to think about. And I do believe God’s put me in rodeo showing that people of all different colors can get along and be brothers and sisters and be family.”   

The Rodeo Bareback Cowboy, ranched in Humble, Texas – embraces his storied journey with humility. Anthony urges, “Be loyal to Him and show Him all the glory for everything He's done for me. God has placed me in every situation. And I can't even explain how that happened. God is true and God is real and He's a real savior and He saved my life. And He's provided for me in every situation. Every one of us has a platform right where they are and teach them about the love of Jesus. No matter what - there's a God that's always there for you, that has more for you than you could ever imagine.”

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