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The unstoppable Bob Holder: a rodeo legend

11 July 2024 Written by VRC

When the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour was in Cootamundra, NSW, we caught up with Bob Holder, a man whose name is synonymous with the sport of rodeo. At 93 years young, Bob’s life is a blend of hard work, passion, and an unbreakable bond with his animals.

Bob Holder introduces himself with a simple statement, but one that encapsulates a man whose life revolves around his farm and the thrill of the rodeo: “My name is Bob Holder. I run a little farm here, about 100 cows, 12 horses, and just work the farm and rodeo in my spare time. I do about 25 rodeos a year.”

From a young age, Bob was destined for this path. “I’ve been competing for about 78 years. I started when I was 14 and have never let up since,” he recalled. His early exposure to horses, thanks to his father who was a drover, cemented his love for the animals. “We always had horses with us, and I just got to like good horses. I started riding them and loved them,” Bob explained.

Despite his age, Bob’s enthusiasm for rodeo remains undiminished, and his longevity in the sport is a testament to his passion and dedication. “I just love it. I love the people, I love the sport, I love the animals. It’s all just great for me.”

Bob’s journey in rodeo has taken him far and wide, including representing Australia in 1959. “I was the first Australian to win prize money in professional rodeo. That put me in the history books,” he reminisced. His travels have not only been limited to Australia but have also seen him compete in prestigious events like Calgary and Madison Square Garden.

Bob’s deep connection with horses is obvious, calling them “such an honest friend”. His philosophy towards riding is equally straightforward. “You never back down, and you never turn a horse out. You’re there to do the job.”

Even at 93, retirement is not in Bob’s vocabulary. “The only time you retire is when you die,” he quipped. His advice to others is simple: “Get up in the morning and keep going. Do something else. Sitting around reading the newspaper, you’ll die too quick. Keep yourself moving.”

Although he has never been to Flemington, let alone the Melbourne Cup, the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour’s visit to Cootamundra was significant to Bob and the community. “I thought it was wonderful. I was really excited. I didn’t know that they’d bring the Cup out and show me.

It’s an Australian icon and it’s the big race that stops the nation. I don’t watch the races every week, but I make sure I always watch the Melbourne Cup.”

As Bob prepares for yet another rodeo in Mount Isa, his spirit remains as strong as ever. “I just love to do it. I couldn’t just sit around doing nothing at all. I’m too young for that.”