PUEBLO, Colo. – Rubens Barbosa was looking down at his Colorado Springs belt buckle when 20-year-old rookie Kaique Pacheco came up from behind him and wrapped his arm around his shoulders.
Pacheco then slapped Barbosa’s chest to congratulate his roommate on his first career Built Ford Tough Series victory.
The 31-year-old smiled bashfully as Pacheco stood next to him while he finished up his post-event interviews with the help of Robson Palermo translating.
It had taken Barbosa 26 BFTS events over the course of five years to finally win his first event. In comparison, it took his much younger roommate just four events.
Pacheco, who had won the BFTS event in St. Louis earlier this year and placed third in Colorado Springs, has been a jolt of energy toward the married, veteran from Goias, Brazil, that he lives with in Decatur, Texas.
“I learn a lot from Kaique’s determination,” Barbosa said. “Every morning he gets up and has his rope in his hand and he does exercises and he learns. He is motivated.”
That motivation rubbed off on Barbosa after the 2011 Rookie of the Year made his return to the United States in January following a year of rehab in Brazil. In 2012, Barbosa was cut from the BFTS tour and then suffered a broken shoulder, leg and other injuries that prevented him from being able to regain his 2011 form.
At the end of last season, Barbosa was convinced by his wife, Dani, to try and make a comeback in the United States this season.
“All because of my wife,” Barbosa said. “She believes in me and told me to come over here, and I had a better chance to make the points. If I stayed over there I would have to get on more bulls at more bull ridings. She has helped me a lot and I have come over here to ride for her.”
He appeared in his first event since 2012 earlier this season at Iron Cowboy. He looked ready for a breakthrough in Arlington, Texas, when he rode Cowboy’s Dancehall Blonde Bomber for 87.5 points, but Barbosa ended up sustaining a broken ankle against Smooth Operator in Round 2 that caused him to miss two events and hindered his abilities once again.
In Colorado Springs, Barbosa finally broke through from his first ride until his last. He began the weekend with an 87.75-point ride on Hou’s Specialbefore riding Rebel Yell for 86.5 points and earning the event win with an 87.5-point ride on Palm Springs.
Barbosa earned a career-high 580 total points at the Built Ford Tough Rumble in the Rockies to move from 31st in the world standings all the way to 13th.
Nine-time World Champion and CBS Sports Network broadcaster said that Barbosa was “perfect” throughout the event.
“In the first round I thought he couldn’t be any better and in the second round he looked great too,” Murray said. “He just looked really crisp. The style was perfect. The mechanics were perfect. His form. His crispness. His movement.”
What left Murray most impress was a characteristic that he sees a lot in Pacheco, as well.
“The way you can see his confidence in his movement,” Murray said. “He goes, ‘I need to be here.’ I see that in Kaique a lot too. It is not just a surviving it. It is a Bam! Bam! Bam! He is making those kind of moves.
“Rubens looks as much like Kaique as anybody I have seen. That is what is cool. That is my what grabs my attention. Those guys with fast, crisp movement.”
Murray believes that there is definitely something to be said of the rookie bull rider and veteran bull rider thriving off each other.
Murray remembers how he would try and motivate Cody Lambert, who is eight years older than Murray, when he was a younger bull rider. Murray then remembers how he would get that extra boost in the latter half of his career from Chad Klein.
“It is funny,” Murray said. “It is almost like in the beginning, the veterans help the young guys and later on the younger guys kind of help the veterans. It is definitely a two-way street. The young guys are getting things from the veterans that they need and the veterans are getting things from the young guys that they need.”
Even though Pacheco has remained in contact with mentor and three-time World Champion Silvano Alves, Barbosa has been able to fill in as a veteran voice on the road at the events while Alves continues to recover from his broken left hip.
“I learn a lot from (Rubens) because he is an old guy, and he knows the tour and the way it is,” Pacheco said. “I have learned some stuff from him. I see what he does week to week at home. To see him win this event, I am so proud of him.”
While Pacheco was talking about how proud he was of Barbosa, the elder bull rider was staring down at his new, shiny belt buckle.
It is his first belt buckle since receiving his Rookie of the Year buckle at the World Finals, which he was wearing this weekend inside The Broadmoor World Arena.
“I don’t know how to describe it because I feel really good right now,” Barbosa said. “I am so happy. I won another buckle at the Finals, but this one from this year is something I am proud of.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko