CollegeMontana State Bobcats


Former Montana State cowboy Caleb Berquist celebrated recovery at spring rodeo

Screen Shot 2024-04-16 at 5.26.16 PM.png
Posted at 5:37 PM, Apr 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-16 19:51:31-04

BOZEMAN — The Montana State spring rodeo featured incredible performances and fast times, but the most memorable ride of the weekend didn’t result in any points.

But it left everyone in attendance speechless.

In March of 2023, former Bobcat roper and Big Sky Region All-Around champion Caleb Berquist was in a side-by-side accident which resulted in a crushed T12 vertebrae and a completely ruptured knee.

He was told he may never walk again.

“I got told the break was complete. You'll never have feeling and you'll never walk again,” Berquist said. “And then a year ago this week we found the first twitch in my muscle. And that's all I prayed for. You know, God, just give me a chance. Give me a chance with something to work with. I'll take it and run with it.”

Caleb in the hospital following his accident.

Flash forward to last week’s rodeo and after months of hard work and therapy, not only is Caleb walking, he’s riding horses. He took a lap around the arena before the rodeo started on Friday with his sister Sydney by his side.

Berquist rode in front of MSU fans countless of times during his time in Bozeman, but this experience was easily the most memorable.

“I got to feel the pressure at the CNFR, I got to feel the pressure at circuit finals to get to championships out of there. I've got to be in here a couple of times, but I think maybe this was just a little more special,” Berquist said. “You know, I worked hard at rodeo, but I think I’ve worked longer and harder to get back to just everyday living."

Berquist’s example was an inspiration to the MSU rodeo team which claimed both men’s and women’s team titles at dual rodeos across four days.

“Caleb was the hardest working guy on the team. You know, you could not out-practice Caleb. And now he's got that same inspirational story. He fought back,” said MSU rodeo coach Kyle Whitaker. “He didn't let anything get him down.

“He just stayed positive and fought back and look where he is. Some people might have had a bad attitude. Anybody would feel sorry for themselves in that situation. But Caleb never did.”

Berquist claimed three Big Sky Region titles in 2022.

Berquist had a support system that helped him through the tough times which included his parents and fiancee Murphy Hirschy. But Bobcat fans and the rodeo community were always in his corner. And this ride was a way for Berquist to say thank you to everyone that supported him during his injury and recovery.

“I have people from Texas, Oklahoma and places like Arizona that send me stuff in the mail. And I apologize if I don't know who you are or if I couldn’t pick you out of a crowd,” Berquist said.

“But that does not mean that I don't read your letters every single time. And it keeps me up at night thinking about all the people I have not been able to thank. So if you're listening and you’ve heard about my story, I want to thank you.”

At the beginning of his recovery he goals were to walk 50 feet so that he could get to and from his pickup truck and to and from his office. He’s achieved that goal and is moving around well with a walker.

Then he crossed off riding and can mount a horse on his own with minimal help these days.

Berquist’s recovery is a miracle, but walking and riding is only the beginning.

“It doesn't stop, I’d like to have the abilities and the opportunities to get back to fully walking. But even if I don't, my goals are to overcome the challenges that I still have,” Berquist said.

“It’s not as easy as it used to be for me. But that's all right. I'm not scared of the challenge. I'll be back. I might not be calf roping but I can team rope. And I can ranch and brand. And that's what I love to do. So, I’ll be back.”

Caleb Berquist hugs his family shortly after walking out of the hospital.