Wiley Petersen made a name for himself in the world of professional bull riding. The Fort Hall rodeo star also became known for his views on healthy living and his commitment to his Native American roots.
It seems we watched Wiley Petersen grow up riding bulls, after all he turned pro while he was still a teenager. And recently he left the arena and entered the exam room.
It was a passion that took off when Wiley was only 10-years-old that is when he asked his mom to sign him up to ride a steer at the local rodeo in Fort Hall.
“So did it,” Wiley Peterson explains, “I got down in there and nodded my head and they opened that gate and my mind went blank and I couldn’t remember anything. The next thing I know I’m sitting out on my butt in the arena thinking what just happened and the adrenaline rush of it all just really caught me and I thought man that’s the funnest thing I’ve ever done and I said I want to do it again and I just kind of kept on with it. And it became a passion of mine.”
That passion turned into dangerous but prolific career that surprised even Wiley himself.
“When I first started this thing,” says Wiley, “it was just my dream to be a professional. I didn’t care even if I actually did very well at any of the events. I just wanted to have a card, a membership card that said professional bull rider, and so to make it to the PBR world finals 10 times and have a 12 year career was way more than I ever thought.”
He would go on to win numerous events, over $1.5 million in prize money and be ranked as high as 3rd in the world, but even more than the money and fame, what he enjoyed was the difference he felt he was making within his community.
“If it was just representing them on the bull riding circuit,” Wiley explains, “I had a lot of people that were really excited to see Fort Hall, Idaho on TV, somebody from Fort Hall, Idaho and that was kind of cool. And to be to let people know that I was a Shoshone Bannock tribal member and that was kind of encouraging thing for people as well, and just to be a role model, somebody for young people to look up to and try to encourage them to pursue their dreams.”
And after over a decade of stopping hearts, he is now listening to them with a new career as a physician’s assistant working at the Tribal Health Services on the Reservation.
Wiley says, “When I was a kid, I had two dreams. One was to be a bull rider the other was to be a doctor. And I thought, well know is my chance to go back into healthcare to get really involved in healthcare, find a way to help people that way and hopefully work with the tribes or for the tribes or be involved in the community somehow to continue to try to help the people of the Fort Hall reservation.”
Wiley’s numerous winnings and awards are impressive and while he appreciates what he’s been able to accomplish he’s still determined to move forward.
“I like and enjoy the challenges of life, just feel privileged to be where I’m at and just been very, very blessed,” says Wiley.
Wiley and his wife Amy have two sons and along with working as a physician’s assistant, Wiley has a website called Bull Rider Coach where he gives lessons to young people in both bull riding and in life.