Nine-year-old Sammy Lyle is sporting quite a trophy buckle this winter, after bringing home the only New Mexican trophy buckle from the International Mini Bullriders Assocation World Finals.

Besides being a 4th grader at Moriarty Elementary, playing baseball, basketball, football and running track, he has a newfound passion and talent: riding mini bulls. His parents, Yolanda and Josh Lyle, say they don’t think he really understands just how well he’s been doing on the circuit.

He brought home the only New Mexican trophy buckle from the International Mini Bullriders Association World Finals in Las Vegas in December. After four days of competition at the Core Arena at Plaza Hotel and Casino, Sammy won Second Round Champion for the PeeWee Mini division, ages 6 to 8.

Since he turned 9 before Jan. 1, he will compete in the Junior Mini division in 2020, and will have to stick his ride for eight seconds, instead of last year’s six.

Sammy got his first taste of rodeo in August 2018, when he covered a sheep at the Sandoval County Fair outside Cuba. Since then, he’s taken quickly to riding bucking things, from sheep, to calves, then steers and mini bulls.

He took second place at the 2019 State Fair, and finished the season at the IMBA World Finals, where he competed against riders from as far away as Europe, Mexico, and Australia, placing 16th out of 59 PeeWee contestants.

Sammy is inspired by his father, Josh, who rode bulls in high school, and says his favorite grown-up bullrider is Jess Lockwood of Montana, who was the youngest World Champion Bullrider in 2017, and won the World again in 2019.

Sammy loves the movie “8 Seconds,” about the life of bullrider Lane Frost. “He’s watched that movie so many times,” laughs mom Yolanda Lyle. “My favorite thing in school is math,” Sammy said, adding that he thinks he might become an engineer when he grows up.

“It was a really amazing experience in Vegas, but he doesn’t really realize how big this was,” his mother said.

Sammy will continue to practice on his bucking barrel at home, and on some mini bulls at the ranch of a family friend in preparation for next season.

The Lyle family would like to thank Sammy’s local sponsors, including Pizza Barn, Moriarty Concrete, B&R Construction, Moriarty Pipe and Iron, Sierra Blanca Brewery, Tillery Chevrolet, Tavenner’s Towing, C/Z Trucking, Coats Pump and Supply and Mickey’s Place Embroidery.