Nov 27, 2020
Blake Knowles will be competing at his fifth Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. His success in the arena has been important but that hasn’t been what has defined the Heppner, Oregon resident.
He grew up in a rodeo family. His father, Butch won the average in the saddle bronc riding at the NFR in Las Vegas in 1987. His mom, Mary, comes from a long line of rodeo champions as well. Blake is the younger of two boys and his brother Brian has competed and the whole family is involved in their ranching operation.
Blake’s cousin Trevor has been one of his traveling companions. A highlight of both of their careers was competing at the NFR together in 2009, 2011 and 2015. In 2015, Trevor won the year-end title at the Columbia River Circuit Finals and Blake won the rodeo’s championship. Blake also qualified for the NFR in 2018.
This year he has been traveling with a bunch of young steer wrestlers from the northwest. He got the 2020 season off to a great start at San Antonio, winning $8,500.
He and his wife, Whitney, are the proud parents of a five-year-old daughter, Lydia. And in July, Lydia became the proud big sister to her brother, Trell.
One on One with the Wrangler NFR Contestant – Blake Knowles
Favorite movie: It’s hard to narrow it down to just one – probably Lonesome Dove. I could easily come up with 10, but Lonesome Dove is probably the one on the top of the list.
Dogs or cats: Dogs. All of ours are working dogs that we depend on at the ranch. Lydia named my current one Bingo. They’re a necessity for ranching in our part of the country.
Favorite dessert: I’m not really big on sweets, but if there is an apple pie around, I’ll enjoy that.
Favorite card or board game: Cribbage. I grew up playing it and my dad and I might enjoy a game.
Favorite sport, other than rodeo: I kind of like seasons and I’m the same way with sports. I like watching whatever season it is.
If you weren’t in rodeo, what would you be doing: I would probably be ranching, but rodeo is such a part of my life. It’s always been the path I took. But I really enjoy ranching too.
Best childhood memory: We used to have some good family trips going to the NFR. That was family vacation, and we had a lot of fun.
Famous person that you’d like to have dinner with: Ronald Reagan. I think he was a cool guy.
Best thing about being a dad: There’s millions of things. Seeing the joy in their faces and witnessing them growing and watching how the process unfolds is really amazing.
Tea or coffee: Coffee every day. It’s kind of crazy. I didn’t start drinking it until I was about 30 but now I really enjoy my coffee.
Favorite thing about Las Vegas: Probably the way it makes you feel, the energy and atmosphere is incredible. Rodeo and Las Vegas seem to go together. When you drive in and see the lights, there’s nothing like it.
Music: A little bit of everything, I like about anything from Rock to Country.
Best horse you’ve ever ridden: I’ve been lucky enough to ride many of the best horses that have been available during my career. It would be impossible to pick just one. The only horse that I didn’t get to compete on that I wish that I could have would have been Willy. (RTR Little Willy was the 2008 AQHA/PRCA Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year that took steer wrestlers to four world championships.)
What champion buckle do you wear and why: Salinas – That rodeo has always been one of my top favorites. My dad has one and he always wore it so I thought it was cool. They haven’t changed a ton, so I think that’s awesome. There’s a lot of others I’d like to add to my collection. (Butch Knowles’ first major rodeo win came at Salinas in the saddle bronc riding in 1974. Blake won the steer wrestling in 2013.)
What’s your strong point in the steer wrestling: I feel pretty confident with my scoring. It takes a combination of knowing cattle, using a horse and relying on your own skills to know exactly when to nod and go. A horse has a certain feel that makes it easier to score, but it’s always a tool that you need to work on as a competitor.
What would people be surprised to learn about you: I went to four different colleges in four years. I finally got my bachelor’s degree from Montana State University and it only took 4 and ½ years. Marketing — that’s come in a little handy now.
If you could give advice to a young rodeo competitor, what would it be: Take it serious. Put in the time and effort and understand that there is a strong correlation between those two things. Rodeo can open a lot of different doors and can lead to opportunities that you never thought would ever happen.
If you could live anywhere where would it be: Rodeo has given me the opportunity to travel and see a lot of different places. There are a number of them that I could call home. I get excited when I get to drive on a road that I’ve never been on before.
Most memorable rodeo win: Probably Omaha, 2009 in the final four. I needed to get a time to get to my first NFR. That happened. Then in 2011 when I was faced with the same scenario, I ended up winning it.
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