PUEBLO, Colo. – Kaique Pacheco found a spot inside the locker room inside the Denny Sanford Premier Center and began digging around his gear bag.
Pacheco pulled out his bull rope, riding vest, chaps, his riding glove, and the rest of his bull riding attire before leaning back inside the locker room cubby he had claimed as his own for the First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard Invitational in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
He then bends over and grabs one more item from inside his bag.
In his hands is his Bible, and a particular chapter he holds close to heart.
You who dwell in the shelter of the most high, who abide in the shade of the almighty / Say to the Lord, My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust. /He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare, from the destroying plague. / He will shelter you with his pinions and under his wings you may take refuge, his faithfulness is a protecting shield. -Psalms 91: 1-4
Pacheco continues to read the entire chapter.
No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent. / For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go. / With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone. / You can tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon. -Psalms 91: 10-13
Once he is done reading the chapter, Pacheco blesses himself and quietly begins to prepare for the Built Ford Tough Series event.
It is a family tradition that has been passed down to Pacheco by his parents and his grandfather in Brazil.
Before every bull riding, Pacheco will take the time to read Psalms 91 or Psalms 27.
“My mom told me to read it all the time before I go to get on,” Pacheco said Sunday following his 4-for-4 victory with the help of Robson Palermo translating. “It helps me every time I get on by reading it. When I read it, I ask for God to keep me safe and make me stronger.”
Pacheco’s grandfather raised bucking bulls in Brazil, while Kaique’s dad, Everaldo Xavier, was a bull rider.
“It helps a lot,” Pacheco continued. “My dad passed everything to me. I thank my family to help me too and I just keep trying to keep the family tradition going.”
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Psalms 91 is a prayer of someone who has taken refuge in the Lord. The psalmist is confident that God’s presence will protect people in every dangerous situation.
Pacheco’s Catholic faith is a big part of his life in and outside of the arena, and he was quick to thank God from the top of the shark cage as he received the event winner belt buckle on Sunday afternoon.
The 21-year-old knows bull riding is a game of life and death. He understands that in a matter of seconds he can sustain a life-threatening injury.
He was quick to thank God for keeping him safe so far in his two-year BFTS career, as well as for helping him overcome his relatively slow start to 2016.
Prior to his 4-for-4 win this past weekend, which moved him from 14th to eighth in the world standings, Pacheco had only been 15-for-36 on the BFTS and had bucked off eight consecutive bulls.
His 41.7 percent riding percentage was by no means a terrible one, but it still was almost six points lower than the 47.44 percent average of his outstanding 2015 rookie season. He claimed the Rookie of the Year title that year, and came close to defeating J.B. Mauney for the 2015 world title.
“Yeah I start slow now this year, but I thank God and all of my friends helped me,” Pacheco said. “I started training, getting on bulls and I feel good now.”
Pacheco believed part of his slow start this season had to do with his lack of bull riding in the offseason. Instead of competing on the BlueDEF Tour like he did in 2015, this year he went home and spent the two-month offseason with family and friends.
“I just needed to work on some things,” Pacheco said. “I didn’t ride much this year. I went to Brazil and didn’t ride there. I came back and needed to correct some stuff. I finally did.”
Pacheco’s four-ride performance wasn’t flashing, but it was enough. Other than his event-winning 88.25-point ride on Legal Tender in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, Pacheco averaged just 80.25 points per ride.
He began his weekend with a 79.25-point ride on Bear Hug, which was good enough for five world points and a seventh-place finish in Round 1. Pacheco then rode Hillbilly Music for 82 points in Round 2 and Heat Seeker for 79.5 points in Round 3.
Two-time World Champion and CBS Sports Network commentator Justin McBride still was impressed with Pacheco’s performance.
“Pacheco did awesome,” McBride said. “He rode really good all weekend. Not a lot of showy bulls, but really tough ones to get by. I thought he did great.”
McBride added that he hasn’t been concerned about Pacheco’s season because he tries to stay clear of putting high expectations on young riders to soon. He pointed out that it took two-time World Champion Chris Shivers a few years before winning his first gold buckle.
Shivers was 21 when he won the 2000 world title after turning pro in 1997.
“I try to steer clear of putting too high of expectations on a guy when they first come on tour because I think there is such a learning curve,” McBride said. “You look at Chris Shivers. He is as good as there probably has ever been. At the time he came on, he was ready to go and he still didn’t win a world title right then. It takes a little bit of time. It takes some time to learn how to win on a consistent basis at this level.”
Still, the 585 world points Pacheco earned in Sioux Falls clearly put him right back into the world title conversation for the second year in a row.
Pacheco trails world leader Mauney by 797.17 points.
The Itatiba, Brazil, bull rider will be 22 when the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals roll around on Nov. 2-6 in Las Vegas.
“Yeah I am going to try to get better and get my dream to go to the Finals and be a World Champion,” Pacheco said. “I am just going to keep going.”
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