Jesse James Kirby just missed qualifying for the short-go in saddle bronco riding at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, but considering how Kirby was a year ago and recently, he was glad to get a chance to compete in front of the hometown fans.

The Dodge City rider didn’t compete in the Roundup Rodeo last year as bone spurs and a chipped hit required surgery. He then broke his in a rodeo in Fort Smith, Ark., and just got back in the saddle before competing Thursday night.

“I’ve been easing my way back up and trying to get back up there where I was to compete for the world,” Kirby said. “I’m doing what I can and competing where I can. There have been little setbacks here and there, but all I can do is to ride my best and try my hardest.”

The Dodge City rider was two points short of getting him to Sunday’s championship night short-go round, but said Kirby and the horse did all they could to get him into the finals.

“The weather had something to do with the horses, but that’s something I couldn’t do anything about,” Kirby said. “They tried their hardest and I tried my hardest.”

Kirby said has claimed two PRCA rodeo titles this season. He earned the saddle bronc title outright in the Parker County Frontier Days Rodeo at Weatherford, Texas; and was co-champion at the Kit Carson Rodeo in Burlington, Colo. (the second time in three years he finished at the top of the standings).

Kirby never takes for granted and wants to do his best in front of those who helped him during his career from being a Kansas High School state all-around champion to his two Prairie Circuit titles in saddle bronc. His grandfather Floyd was one of the founding patriarchs of the Roundup Rodeo and other members of the family help around Roundup Arena in other aspects.

“I feel totally blessed to ride and have some fun in front of my hometown,” Kirby said. “This place is like my family because of how much family history is involved here,” Kirby said. “I feel totally blessed to ride and have some fun in front of my hometown.”