PUEBLO, Colo. – Reindeer Dippin always had a habit of lifting his big horns high into the air and sticking his nose toward the blue California sky on a daily basis.
Whenever the PBR fan favorite would do so, the late Mikel Moreno would say to his parents Cindy Rosser and Julio Moreno, ‘Look at that! Look at the Reindeer!’
It was how Reindeer Dippin earned his name, and this week many PBR fans, riders and stock contractors are tipping their hats and taking a glance toward the sky in memory of the superstar bovine athlete.
Cindy Rosser confirmed on Thursday that Reindeer Dippin passed away peacefully this week in Marysville, California, because of natural causes.
He was 18 years old.
“18 is pretty old for a bull,” Rosser said. “We knew it was coming. It was only a matter of time. He has had it pretty easy the last few years here.”
The former PBR standout bull, and father of three-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker, competed for six years at the Built Ford Tough Series level. He only surrendered two qualified rides, not including accepted re-rides, in 48 outs from 2003-2008.
According to ProBullstats.com, Reindeer Dippin was 93-5 at various PBR and PRCA bull riding events.
Reindeer Dippin was named the 2004 Bull of the National Finals Rodeo and qualified for the PBR World Finals five times.
Reindeer Dippin was only 1,600 pounds in his prime, but he had a fierce competitiveness to him.
“He would be practically upside down and twist in his body,” Rosser said. “He wasn’t a real big bull. But he could do stuff with his body and leap in the air. He had some ability and quickness and acrobatic things that most bulls can’t do.”
Reindeer Dippin’s electricity in the arena is what led to him becoming such a superstar in the arena.
“People would line up on the bucking chutes and stand there,” Rosser said. “I will never forget. When he was at the top of his game in 2004 and 2005, that was when our son (Mikel) was going through cancer treatment, so we didn’t go a whole lot. We were in Sacramento or Reno and they said Reindeer and the crowd went ‘Whooaaa.’ “I thought, ‘Oh my God. These people just love this bull.’
Rosser even had a T-shirt made that said, “I got run over by a Reindeer.”
Reindeer Dippin was first ridden by Steven Shelley for 82.5 point at the 2003 PBR World Finals.
L.J. Jenkins then earned the highest-scored ride ever aboard the West Coast bull with a sensational 93-point ride at the 2005 BFTS event in Laughlin, Nevada.
“He was one of the greatest of all time and is now a great producer,” Jenkins said. “He helped me make a name for myself my rookie year and that ride I'll never forget.”
Reindeer Dippin broke the 45-point threshold 17 times in his BFTS career.
He earned a career-high 48-point bull score twice in his career.
In 2003, Reindeer Dippin earned a 48-point bull score when he flung 2004 World Champion Mike Lee like a pinwheel in 4.8 seconds.
“I wasn’t there, but I saw the video and I thought, ‘Oh, my God,’” Rosser said. “I have a picture of him in the air and above the signs.”
Lee remembered when he attempted to put his bull rope on Reindeer Dippin in the back alley he was unable to because of how crazy the bull was acting.
“I waited until he got in the bucking chute, and he got better as he got older, but he was a wild one,” Lee said. “He was a pretty different animal. He was wild. I was young and dumb back then so I spurred him. He flipped out a little bit and bucked. That was one of the best trips he ever had. One of the coolest videos of him was with me in Laughlin.”
Lee was one of six PBR World Champions (Adriano Moraes, J.B. Mauney, Chris Shivers, Justin McBride, Kody Lostroh and Lee) bucked off by Reindeer Dippin.
Nearly every year at the PBR World Finals, Reindeer Dippin would refuse to drink his water. Moreno would try to bring the bull bottled water, while Rosser even tarped his pen because she felt maybe the bull was shy to drink with so many fans staring at him.
“He did his job and he liked to be out of the limelight,” Rosser said. “He would hover in the corner. He had a mystique about him. He really did.”
It was Reindeer’s wild, acrobatics in the arena that made it impossible for him to remain unpopular.
Reindeer Dippin had much of the same wild and unpredictable bucking traits that he later passed down to his World Champion son.
“What they call today the ‘Wow’ factor, he had that the whole time,” Julio Moreno said. “There was Bodacious and all, but he was one of the first that was crazy and wild. I really think a lot of Bushwacker’s success stems back to Reindeer. I really think what we do now today with social media today, he could have been as famous.”
Rosser added, “Bushwacker’s trips were never the same and that was the same thing about Reindeer.”
Mauney was bucked off by Reindeer Dippin in 6.71 seconds at the 2007 BFTS event in Sacramento and had high praise for Bushwacker’s father.
“Reindeer Dippin was one of the wildest bulls I was ever able to get on, and a mean one on top of that,” Mauney said. “You never knew what he was going to do, but it was going to be electric.”
Beyond Bushwacker, Reindeer Dippin was also the sire to 2015 World Champion Bull contender Roy. Fifty of Reindeer Dippin’s sons went on to buck at either a PBR-sanctioned or PRCA rodeo, according to Slade Long of ProBullstats, and even more PBR bulls have bloodlines that go back to the champion producer.
Reindeer Dippin’s legacy will continue to live on through the endless amount of bulls and cows that he has helped produce, but Rosser will still always remember Reindeer Dippin for the electricity her bull brought on a weekly basis that left so many fans jaw-dropped.
“The bull riders could never figure him out, but the fans loved him,” Rosser concluded. “You never knew what he was going to do. I will say it. He was really the first fan favorite because they never knew what he could do.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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