DODGE CITY, Kan. ‚Äď Matt Bright might just be on the hot streak of his career.
Bright, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Fort Worth, Texas, continued his positive momentum Thursday night by riding Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Showdown for 83 points to take the bareback riding lead at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been pretty injury plagued the last couple years, and I‚Äôm finally feeling healthy,‚ÄĚ said Bright, who earned more than $12,000 last week and moved to 28th in the world standings. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs amazing what being in good shape and being healthy can do for a guy‚Äôs riding. It‚Äôs dang sure improved mine a lot, and things have been rolling really well here lately.‚ÄĚ
He was one of 19 NFR qualifiers in Thursday‚Äôs second performance of Roundup. Injuries have sidelined him enough the last two seasons, the Tennessee-born cowboy has been unable to return to Las Vegas for ProRodeo‚Äôs grand finale. He‚Äôs battling his way toward the magical top 15 in the world standings by the end of the regular season to secure his fourth trip to the Nevada desert in December.
He knew he had a shot on the Frontier horse.
‚ÄúDodge City is one of these rodeos where the horse is going to tell the difference,‚ÄĚ said Bright, who finished second at both Cheyenne, Wyo., and Eagle, Colo., last week. ‚ÄúEverybody here are great bareback riders. This is a (Wrangler Million Dollar) Tour rodeo, so you‚Äôre going to get the cream of the crop, and I knew (NFR qualifier) Austin Foss had some success on that horse earlier this year.‚ÄĚ
In roughstock events ‚Äď bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding ‚Äď half the score on the 100-point scale is based on the animal; the rest is based on how well the cowboy rides.
‚ÄúHe had a great trip, and I managed to keep up with him,‚ÄĚ he said of Showdown.
Though he has missed a number of big-money rodeos this year because of injury, Bright knows there are plenty of opportunities ahead of him with just two months left in the 2015 campaign.
‚ÄúI know everybody goes on and on about July being the month, but after Cheyenne, you get a lot of guys who are broke and a lot of guys who are injured,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWith as many big rodeos that go on in the late summer and early fall and with a few guys that are out for whatever reason, it seems like it gets slightly easier to get checks.
‚ÄúIf a guy‚Äôs healthy and feeling good like I have here lately, I think this is a good time to take advantage of it. I‚Äôm not beat up from going up and down the road. I‚Äôve got a fresh jump, and I think it‚Äôs showing. I‚Äôve been drawing real good horses, and I‚Äôve been able to take advantage of it.‚ÄĚ
First he needs to finish among the top 12 through the four preliminary performances in Dodge City in order to qualify for Sunday‚Äôs championship round. By leading with two nights left in the preliminary round, he sits in prime position to chase the coveted Roundup title.
He just needs that hot streak to continue just a few more days to get it.
Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
July 29-Aug. 2
Bareback riding leaders: 1. Matt Bright, 83 points on Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Showdown; 2. Kash Wilson, 80; 3. Tanner Aus, 78; 4. Colt Kitaif, 76; 5. Clint Cannon, 75; 6. Kyle Charley, 74; 7. (tie) Clayton Jon Biglow, Trenton Montero and Will Lowe, 71 each; 10. Casey Breuer, 66; 11. Wyatt Clar, 59; 12. A.J. Colletti, 58.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. (tie) Rowdy Parrott and Ricky Riley, 3.9 seconds; 3. Kyle Irwin, 4.1; 4. (tie) Logan Rudd and Ryan Bothum, 4.3; 4. (tie) Orrin Fontenot, Jule Hazen, Stockton Graves and Cody Pratt, 4.4. Second round leaders: 1. Kyle Whitaker, 3.3 seconds; 2. (tie) Levi Rudd and Tyler Waguespack, 3.6; 4. (tie) Matt Reeves and Josh Clark, 3.8; 6. (tie) Matt Uttermark and J.D. Struxness, 4.0; 8. Cody Devers, 4.1. Average leaders: 1. Tyler Waguespack, 8.2 seconds on two runs; 2. Rowdy Parrott, 8.3; 3. Kyle Irwin, 8.4; 4. Stockton Graves, 8.7; 5. J.D. Struxness, 9.0; 6. Orrin Fontenot, 9.2; 7. Ryan Bothum, 9.8; 8. Tanner Brunner, 10.5; 9. Tooter Silver, 10.6; 10. Logan Rudd, 10.9; 11. Kyle Broce, 11.6; 12. Levi Rudd, 11.9.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 4.4 seconds; 2. Colt Fisher/Corey Hendrick, 4.7; 3. Derrick Begay/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 4.9; 4. Travis Tryan/Jett Hillman, 5.2; 5. Monty Wood/Boogie Ray, 5.3; 6. (tie) Joel Bach/Jim Ross Cooper and Cris Francis/Cade Passig, 6.2 each; 8. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 6.3; 6. Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, 6.4. Second round leaders: 1. Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, 4.7 seconds; 2. Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, 5.1; 3. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 6.3; 4. Nick Becker/Toby Mentzer, 6.3; 5. Derrick Begay/Clay O‚ÄôBrien Cooper, 6.9; 6. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 7.4; 7. Jered Hunter/Trew Cates, 8.3; 8. JoJo LeMond/Dakota Kirchenschlager, 10.0. Average leaders: 1. Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, 11.5 seconds on two runs; 2. (tie) Derrick Begay/Clay O‚ÄôBrien Cooper and Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 11.8; 4. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 12.6; 5. Jered Hunter/Trew Cates, 15.1; 7. Colt Fisher/Corey Hendrick, 15.5; 8. Jake Cooper/Tyler McKnight, 17.1; 9. Caleb Bullock/Shade Etbauerm 25.2; 10. Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, 4.7 on one run; 11. Travis Tryan/Jett Hillman, 5.2; 12. Monty Wood/Boogie Ray, 5.3.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Rusty Wright, 81 points on Harry Vold Rodeo‚Äôs Jerry‚Äôs Delight; 2. (tie) Isaac Diaz and Cody Wright; 4. Tyrel Larsen, 78; 5. Taos Muncy, 77; 6. (tie) Spencer Wright and Dalton Davis, 76; 8. (tie) Doug Aldridge, Taygen Schuelke and Dawson Jandreau, 75; 11. (tie) Zeke Thurston, Brady Nicholes and Sam Spreadborough, 74.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Stran Smith, 8.2 seconds; 2. Justin Maas, 9.0; 3. Tanner Stec, 9.3; 4. Caleb Bullock, 9.4; 5. (tie) Jordan Ketscher and Ross Tucker, 9.5; 7. Clint Cooper, 9.6; 8. GlennJackson Glasper. Second round leaders: 1. Tyson Durfey, 8.0; 2. Tyler Milligan, 8.5 seconds; 3. (tie) Trent Creager, Dennis Luetge and Stran Smith, 8.6; 6. Jarrod Branch, 9.5; 7. (tie) Glenn Jackson Glasper and Jesse Clark, 9.6. Average leaders: 1. Stran Smith, 16.8 seconds on two runs; 2. Justin Maass, 18.7; 3. GlennJackson Glasper, 19.6; 4. Trent Creager, 20.3; 5. Tanner Stec, 20.7; 6. Quay Howard, 21.3; 7. Jesse Clark, 21.5; 8. Dennis Luetge, 24.1; 9. Chase Williams, 29.8; 10. Shade Etbauer, 31.3; 11. Jarrod Branch, 33.1; 12. Bryson Seachrist, 36.8.
Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Kelley Schnaufer, 17.09 seconds; 2. Jackie Ganter, 17.10; 3. Abby Searcy, 17.20; 4. Sarah Rose McDonald, 17.23; 5. Tillar Murray, 17.26; 6. Laura Lambert, 17.28; 7. Christine Laughlin, 17.34; 8. Victoria Williams, 17.40; 9. Sabrina Ketcham, 17.41; 10. Stevi Hillman, 17.45. Second round leaders: 1. Tillar Murray, 17.02 seconds; 2. Sarah Rose McDonald, 17.06; 3. Laura Kennedy, 17.07; 4. Kelley Schnaufer, 17.11; 5. Bailee Snow, 17.15; 6. Stevi Hillman, 17.16; 7. Christy Loflin, 17.18; 8. Abby Searcy, 17.22; 9. Victoria Williams, 17.27; 10. Carol Chesher, 17.32. Average leaders: 1. Kelley Schnaufer, 34.20 seconds on two runs; 2. Tillar Murray, 34.28; 3. Sarah Rose McDonald, 34.29; 4. Abby Searcy, 34.42; 5. Jackie Ganter, 34.51; 6. Stevi Hillman, 34.61; 7. Victoria Williams, 34.67; 8. Laura Kennedy, 34.78; 9. Carol Chesher, 34.80; 10. Gretchen Benbenek, 34.83; 11. Sabrina Ketcham, 34.84; 12. Bailee Snow, 34.88.
Bull riding leaders: 1. Scottie Knapp, 89 points on 4L and Diamond S Rodeo‚Äôs Spanish Moss; 2. Aaron Pass, 88; 3. Tanner Bothwell, 84; 4. Mana Kaia, 82; 5. (tie) Trenton Montero and Caleb Sanderson, 81; 7. Sage Kimzey, 77; 8. Joe Frost, 76; 9. Guthrie Murray, 73; 10. Cody Wade Huitt, 54; no other qualified rides.
There is a pretty big stink north of the border.
Apparently, a number of rodeo folks are a bit miffed at the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association‚Äôs newest logo design. It‚Äôs quite a change from the longstanding logo, and it has been met with sharp criticism.
The previous logo was outdated and needed an overhaul. The image looks straight out of the Old West, as if it were developed on printing presses that have long since been discarded.
The new logo is slick and unique ‚Ä¶ a little too much for the tradition-rich CPRA. In fact, it‚Äôs a complete direction change from what has been a signature symbol for the association. Sure, some will say, it‚Äôs attractive and bold.
But it is short-sided and actually alienates the organization from its roots. Just click HERE to read what CPRA Gold Card Mac McKie member and my good friend, Ted Stovin, have to say on the subject.
There was room for something spectacular to create that included all the design aspects needed for change. There is middle ground, and that‚Äôs where the CPRA board should‚Äôve gone.
There was no need to erase 70 years of tradition with one swipe of a pen and a few block letters. The CPRA membership deserved better.
DODGE CITY, Kan. ‚Äď No matter how good an athlete is, the foundation for every move is in the fundamentals.
It‚Äôs working well for Rusty Wright, a 19-year-old saddle bronc rider and son of two-time world champion Cody Wright. On Wednesday night, the Utah cowboy rode Harry Vold Rodeo‚Äôs Jerry‚Äôs Delight for 81 points to take the early lead at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.
‚ÄúI couldn‚Äôt ask for better this year,‚ÄĚ said Rusty Wright, the No. 3-ranked bronc rider in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve been drawing good and making good rides, and the judges are liking it. It‚Äôs working out. I just plan to keep riding the best I can; nothing fancy, just stick to the basics.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs proven to be quite successful for the Wright clan of Milford, Utah. Not only is Cody Wright a two-time titlist, but two of his brothers (Rusty‚Äôs uncles) are also world champs: Jesse Wright won the gold buckle in 2012, and Spencer Wright added the family‚Äôs fourth crown last season.
‚ÄúMy dad‚Äôs been preaching the basics to us, not just in bronc riding but any sport we were doing through elementary school or high school; just stick to the basics,‚ÄĚ said Rusty Wright, who is one point better than Cody Wright and Isaac Diaz at Roundup Rodeo. ‚ÄúIt carries over to bronc riding. He‚Äôs been telling us that so long that it‚Äôs easy to remember: Stay back, lift on your rein and set your feet. That‚Äôs pretty much all you need to do.‚ÄĚ
The young gun has done it better than most this season. He has pocketed $71,000, and two months remain in ProRodeo‚Äôs regular season. He‚Äôs well on his way to his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, where the chances are good he‚Äôll be joined by familiar faces.
Only the top 15 cowboys in the world standings earn a shot at the biggest pay in the game, and there are plenty of Wrights within range of returning to Las Vegas in December: Spencer is sixth, Jake is 10th, Jesse is 17th and Cody is 25th. Rusty travels the rodeo trail with Cody, Spencer and Brady Nicholes.
‚ÄúA big part of rodeoing is being around good bronc riders and winners, like my dad and Spencer,‚ÄĚ Rusty Wright said. ‚ÄúI think I‚Äôm traveling with a couple of winners. It helps me out a lot, not only in bronc riding but with my attitude in life.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a huge impact, and it‚Äôs made things a lot easier for me.‚ÄĚ
He seems to be making it pretty easy for himself. He‚Äôll turn 20 on Nov. 10, so a trip to the Nevada in December to chase the world champion‚Äôs gold buckle might be the perfect birthday gift.
Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
July 29-Aug. 2
Bareback riding leaders: 1. Kash Wilson, 80 points on JK Rodeo‚Äôs Brother; 2. Tanner Aus, 78; 3. Clint Cannon, 75; 4. (tie) Clayton Jon Biglow and Trenton Montero, 71 each; 6. Casey Breuer, 66.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Rowdy Parrott, 3.9 seconds; 2. Kyle Irwin, 4.1; 3. Logan Rudd, 4.3; 4. Orrin Fontenot, 4.4; 5. Tyler Waguespack, 4.5; 6. Royce Johnson, 4.7. Second round leaders: 1. Kyle Whitaker, 3.3 seconds; 2. (tie) Levi Rudd and Tyler Waguespack, 3.6; 4. Matt Reeves, 3.8; 5. Kyle Irwin, 4.3; 6. (tie) Jacob Talley, 4.4. Average leaders: 1. Tyler Waguespack, 8.2 seconds on two runs; 2. Rowdy Parrott, 8.3; 3. Kyle Irwin, 8.4; 4. Orrin Fontenot, 9.2; 5. Tooter Silver, 10.6; 6. Logan Rudd, 10.9; 7. Levi Rudd, 11.9; 8. Jacob Talley, 18.5.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 4.4 seconds; 2. Derrick Begay/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 4.9; 3. Travis Tryan/Jett Hillman, 5.2; 4. Joel Bach/Jim Ross Cooper, 6.2; 5. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 6.3; 6. Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, 6.4. Second round leaders: 1. Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, 4.7 seconds; 2. Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, 5.1; 3. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 6.3; 4. Derrick Begay/Clay O‚ÄôBrien Cooper, 6.9; 5. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 7.4; 6. Jake Cooper/Tyler McKnight, 10.2. Average leaders: 1. Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, 11.5 seconds on two runs; 2. (tie) Derrick Begay/Clay O‚ÄôBrien Cooper and Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 11.8 seconds each; 4. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 12.6; 5. Jake Cooper/Tyler McKnight, 17.1; 6. Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, 4.7 on one run; 7. Travis Tryan/Jett Hillman, 5.2; 8. Joel Bach/Jim Ross Cooper, 6.2.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Rusty Wright, 81 points on Harry Vold Rodeo‚Äôs Jerry‚Äôs Delight; 2. (tie) Isaac Diaz and Cody Wright; 4. Tyrel Larsen, 78; 5. Taos Muncy, 77; 6. Spencer Wright, 76; 7. Doug Aldridge, 75; 8. (tie) Zeke Thurston/Brady Nicholes, 74.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Jordan Ketscher, 9.5 seconds; 2. Clint Cooper, 9.6; 3. GlennJackson Glasper, 10.0; 4. Dillon Holder, 10.7; 5. Quay Howard, 11.3; 6. William Whayne Jr., 11.6. Second round leaders: 1. Tyler Milligan, 8.5 seconds; 2. Trent Creager, 8.6; 3. Jarrod Branch, 9.5; 4. Glenn Jackson Glasper, 9.6; 5. Quay Howard, 10.0; 6. Tylen Layton, 10.6; 7. Bryson Sechrist, 18.2; 8. Pryce Harris, 21.0. Average leaders: 1. GlennJackson Glasper, 19.6 seconds on two runs; 2. Trent Creager, 20.3; 3. Quay Howard, 21.3; 4. Jarrod Branch, 33.1; 5. Bryson Seachrist, 36.8; 6. Garrett King, 47.3; 7. Tyler Milligan, 8.5 on one one; 8. Jordan Ketscher, 9.5.
Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Abby Searcy, 17.20 seconds; 2. Christine Laughlin, 17.34; 3. Carol Chesher, 17.48; 4. Lauren Magdeburg, 17.54; 5. Layna Kight, 17.60; 6. (tie) Laura Kennedy and Hanna Forbes, 17.71 each. Second round leaders: 1. Laura Kennedy, 17.07; 2. Bailee Snow, 17.15; 3. Christy Loflin, 17.18; 4. Abby Searcy, 17.22; 5. Carol Chesher, 17.32; 6. (tie) Kaela Haddon and Hanna Forbes, 17.34; 8. Darla Corff, 17.43; 9. Sara Bynum, 17.45; 10. Cheyenne Raney, 17.50. Average leaders: 1. Abby Searcy, 34.42 seconds on two runs; 2. Laura Kennedy, 34.78; 3. Carol Chesher, 34.80; 4. Bailee Snow, 34.88; 5. Christy Loflin, 34.92; 6. Hanna Forbes, 35.05; 7. Layna Kight, 35.15; 8. Lauren Magdeburg, 35.27; 9. Sara Bynum, 35.48; 10. Sandy McElreath, 35.62; 11. Kaela Haddon, 35.73; 12. Brooke Sebo, 36.05.
Bull riding leaders: 1. Scottie Knapp, 89 points on 4L and Diamond S Rodeo‚Äôs Spanish Moss; 2. Aaron Pass, 88; 3. (tie) Trenton Montero and Caleb Sanderson, 81; 5. Guthrie Murray, 73; 6. Cody Wade Huitt, 54.
The timed events began Wednesday morning at Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, and there are several elite athletes atop the leaderboard, including world champion header Chad Masters. He and partner Travis Graves posted a 4.4-second run to lead the first go-round.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Rowdy Parrott, 3.9 seconds; 2. Kyle Irwin, 4.1; 3. Logan Rudd, 4.3; 4. Orrin Fontenot, 4.4; 5. Tyler Waguespack, 4.5; 6. Royce Johnson, 4.7. Second round leaders: 1. Kyle Whitaker, 3.3 seconds; 2. Matt Reeves, 3.8; 3. Dan Barner, 5.8; 4. Tyler Pearson, 6.5; 5. Shane Henderson, 8.3; 6. John Kloeckler, 13.3. Average leaders: 1. Kyle Whitaker, 3.3 seconds on one head; 2. Matt Reeves, 3.8; 3. Rowdy Parrott, 3.9; 4. Kyle Irwin, 4.1; 5. Logan Rudd, 4.3; 6. Orrin Fontenot, 4.4.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 4.4 seconds; 2. Derrick Begay/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 4.9; 3. Travis Tryan/Jett Hillman, 5.2; 4. Joel Bach/Jim Ross Cooper, 6.2; 5. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 6.3; 6. Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, 6.4. Second round leaders: 1. Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, 4.7 seconds; 2. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 14.3; no other qualified runs. Average leaders: 1. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 4.4 seconds on one head; 2. Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, 4.7; 3. Derrick Begay/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 4.9; 4. Travis Tryan/Jett Hillman, 5.2; 5. Joel Bach/Jim Ross Cooper, 6.2; 6. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 6.3.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Jordan Ketscher, 9.5 seconds; 2. Clint Cooper, 9.6; 3. GlennJackson Glasper, 10.0; 4. Dillon Holder, 10.7; 5. Quay Howard, 11.3; 6. William Whayne Jr., 11.6. Second round leaders: 1. Tyler Milligan, 8.5 seconds; 2. Jarrod Branch, 9.5; 3. Tylen Layton, 10.6; 4. Pryce Harris, 21.0; 5. Garrett King, 24.8; no other qualified runs. Average leaders: 1. Jarrod Branch, 33.1 seconds on two head; 2. Garrett King, 47.3; 3. Tyler Milligan, 8.5 on one head; 4. Jordan Ketscher, 9.5; 5. Clint Cooper, 9.6; 6. GlennJackson Glasper, 10.0.
Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Abby Searcy, 17.20 seconds; 2. Christine Laughlin, 17.34; 3. Carol Chesher, 17.48; 4. Lauren Magdeburg, 17.54; 5. Layna Kight, 17.60; 6. (tie) Laura Kennedy and Hanna Forbes, 17.71 each. Second round leaders: 1. Kaela Haddon, 17.34 seconds; 2. Darla Corff, 17.43; 3. Sara Bynum, 17.45; 4. Cheyenne Raney, 17.50; 5. Lisa Thornton, 17.51; 6. Emily Holton, 17.53. Average leaders: 1. Lisa Thornton, 35.29 seconds on two head; 2. Sara Bynum, 35.48; 3. Sandy McElreath, 35.62; 4. Kaela Haddon, 35.73; 5. Brooke Sebo, 36.05; 6. Crystal Castleberry, 36.11.
Two-time world champion Scott Snedecor of Fredricksburg, Texas, added another prestigious title to his resume Tuesday afternoon.
Snedecor, a 13-time qualifier to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Rodeo, roped and tied three calves in 26.8 seconds to win $4,862. It marked the second time in his career that the Texan has claimed the Dodge City Roundup steer roping championship.
‚ÄúJust being Dodge City is important for us,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúPart of the attraction of this rodeo is the buckle they give; that was one of the elite buckles that stick out when you see it on somebody.
‚ÄúThe committee here works so hard, and we all really appreciate Mike (Lehmke) for sponsoring steer roping. They really do take care of us.‚ÄĚ
Snedecor split the opening-round victory with Troy Tillard of Douglas, Wyo.; both cowboys posted 11.2-second runs. Mike Chase of McAlester, Okla., won the second round with a 10.4-second run, while Neal Wood of Needville, Texas, scored a 10.2 ‚Äď the fastest run of the day ‚Äď to win the final round.
Snedecor first won the Roundup buckle in 2008, the same year he won his second world title ‚Äď he also won the gold buckle in 2005. Heading into the week, he was fourth in the world standings with more than $42,000
‚ÄúThe year started out good; I‚Äôd won $15,000 before January,‚ÄĚ he said, noting that the rodeo season runs from Oct. 1-Sept. 30 each year. ‚ÄúMy horse tore up his flexor tendon in March, and I went through seven or eight horses trying to get one to work.‚ÄĚ
But friends came through. In fact, Snedecor has borrowed a horse from fellow roper Shandon Stalls of McLean, Texas, the past two weeks, and it‚Äôs paid off. He has earned more than $20,000 in that span.
‚ÄúThis horse is 21 years old, and he‚Äôs pretty good,‚ÄĚ Snedecor said. ‚ÄúHe stays out of my way and lets me work. This event is probably more demanding of horsepower than any event. When you get off one, you‚Äôve got to trust it. It takes a special horse. There aren‚Äôt many out there like that.‚ÄĚ
DODGE CITY, Kan. ‚Äď For the better part of the last three years, Jacob O‚ÄôMara has spent more time on the disabled list than any athlete would like.
It‚Äôs especially hard for rodeo cowboys, who have no guaranteed contracts. The only way they make money is to win it, and O‚ÄôMara has been at his Baton Rouge, La., home a lot more than he‚Äôs been on the rodeo trail.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve had a lot of down time and a lot of home time, but I wouldn‚Äôt take it back,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIf God wouldn‚Äôt have put me through and allowed me to go through the things I did, I wouldn‚Äôt be where I am today spiritually and a lot of my personal live. I‚Äôm thankful for that.‚ÄĚ
He has returned with a vengeance, winning Tuesday night‚Äôs Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls title. He rode 4L and Diamond S Rodeo‚Äôs Lil Warrior for 86 points to win the championship to earn $4,963.
O‚ÄôMara won Roundup‚Äôs bull riding title in 2011 and parlayed that into a qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He finished the year fifth in the world standings, but that was followed by a series of injuries that have left him away from the game he loves for months at a time.
‚ÄúI feel good right now,‚ÄĚ said O‚ÄôMara, who was ranked 33rd in the bull riding standings heading into this week. ‚ÄúI had to take a couple weeks off in June because I bruised my rotator cuff, but I came back strong. I had a decent Fourth (of July run); I placed in the middle of the pack but felt like I was riding good.‚ÄĚ
As is the case with any sport, there are definite slumps that come along. He experienced a short one last week.
‚ÄúIt lit a fire in me to come back here,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúBeing familiar with this rodeo and having had success here, it‚Äôs a comfort zone. I‚Äôm glad to get that fire underneath me and want to let it roll from here.‚ÄĚ
O‚ÄôMara was just a half point better than 2011 world champion Shane Proctor of Grand Coulee, Wash., who finished second. Dustin Bowen of Waller, Texas, placed third with an 83.5, while Dodge City-born bull rider Tyler Hessman of Beaver, Okla., finished in a three-way tie for fourth with Brett Stall of Detroit Lakes, Mich., and Caleb Sanderson of Hallettsville, Texas, with 83s
A little more than two months remain in the 2015 regular season, and cowboys must be in the top 15 in the world standings if they want to play for the biggest pay in the game at the NFR.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got enough time left, but it‚Äôs crunch time,‚ÄĚ O‚ÄôMara said. ‚ÄúIf I‚Äôm going to make a shot for the NFR, I‚Äôve got to keep the ball rolling.‚ÄĚ
Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls
Dodge City, Kan.
1. Jacob O’Mara, 86 points on 4L & Diamond S Rodeo’s Lil Warrior, $4,963; 2. Shane Proctor, 85.5, $3,805; 3. Dustin Bowen, 83.5, $2,812; 4. (tie) Brett Stall, Caleb Sanderson and Tyler Hessman, 83, $1,268 each; 7. Reid Barker, 82, $662; 8. (tie) Guthrie Murray and Trevor Kastner, 81, $248 each.
WINNSBORO, La. ‚Äď There is something special in this community that comes to town every summer.
It‚Äôs the Deep South PRCA Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Thursday, July 30-Saturday, Aug. 1, at Deep South Rodeo Arena in Winnsboro. It‚Äôs a busy week for local organizers, and it‚Äôs a big week for the staff of Pete Carr‚Äôs Classic Pro Rodeo, which will produce event.
‚ÄúPete brings some really good stock to our rodeo, and that‚Äôs really good for us,‚ÄĚ said Skipper Stinson, a key member of the committee that produces the annual rodeo. ‚ÄúThat helps make our rodeo better. The better the cowboys and the better the stock, the better the rodeo is going to be.‚ÄĚ
Some of the top names in the game have found success in Winnsboro, including Louisiana cowboys who try to make their way back home to compete at the event even through the rigors of the rodeo schedule.
‚ÄúWhen you go to Pete‚Äôs rodeos, you know you‚Äôre going to have a shot to win first,‚ÄĚ said bareback rider Winn Ratliff of Leesville, La., a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who also added victories at Carr events in the Texas towns of Weatherford, Nacogdoches and Crosby. ‚ÄúYou have to do your part and ride good, but if you do your job, you‚Äôre going to have the opportunity to win the rodeo.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs often the case, no matter where the Carr animals perform.
‚ÄúPete Carr is one of the premier stock contractors in the world,‚ÄĚ said saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss, a five-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La. ‚ÄúPete taking it another step further is amazing to me. It‚Äôs just going to make it better for everybody.‚ÄĚ
DeMoss is the reigning champion at the Deep South Rodeo, so he knows as well as anyone. A year ago, he matched moves with Carr‚Äôs Night Train for 88 points to win the Winnsboro title.
‚ÄúPete has such an array of horse now that no matter where he goes, he will have it to where everybody has a chance to win money,‚ÄĚ DeMoss said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a riding contest instead of a drawing contest, and that‚Äôs what Pete‚Äôs got in his mind to do. I‚Äôm behind him all the way.‚ÄĚ
That bodes well for those who have plans to take in the annual rodeo.
‚ÄúIt is a very established rodeo that‚Äôs been around a long time,‚ÄĚ said Andy Stewart, the rodeo‚Äôs announcer from nearby Collinston, La. ‚ÄúWe saw a lot of great cowboys from that area over the years that come to that rodeo.‚ÄĚ
The legacy is still growing.
‚ÄúWe get a lot of the circuit cowboys to come, and we get a lot of the great guys from our area,‚ÄĚ said Stewart, who has been nominated six times as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association announcer of the year. ‚ÄúThe thing that Pete Carr and his crew provides at this rodeo is professionalism and production.
‚ÄúThis is a very small arena and a very small community, but we bring in a great production and great animals. It‚Äôs a great, professional show.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs just what fans want.
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď There are many reasons why the Lea County Fair and Rodeo is recognized as one of the biggest and best events in ProRodeo.
From hospitality to award-winning livestock to an amazing purse, the regional exposition is home to a highly touted event among the top professionals in the game. This year‚Äôs rodeo is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 8, at Jake McClure Arena on the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.
‚ÄúThere are fans that don‚Äôt get to see rodeo outside Lovington, but we‚Äôre trying to put together a rodeo they‚Äôd want to see anywhere,‚ÄĚ said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. ‚ÄúWe strive to put together a National Finals Rodeo experience for them right here at home. I think we‚Äôve been able to do that.‚ÄĚ
Indeed. Each of the past two seasons, the Lea County Fair and Rodeo has been a top-five finalist for the Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Annually the rodeo features the numerous world champions and regular NFR qualifiers all vying for a shot at the coveted championship.
Just look at the reigning Lovington champions as proof: 21-time world titlist Trevor Brazile earned the steer roping crown en route to his fifth steer roping gold buckle; four-time world champ J.W. Harris won the bull riding title; three-time year-end winner Tuf Cooper won the tie-down roping crown; 10-time NFR qualifier Cody DeMoss won saddle bronc riding; three-time finalist J.R. Vezain earned the bareback riding championship; and steer wrestler Ty Erickson added the title en route to his first NFR qualification.
‚ÄúPete Carr‚Äôs been around our rodeo long enough that people know his stock, and I think the contestants look at that a lot when they enter,‚ÄĚ Massey said. ‚ÄúI think there‚Äôs a friendliness to the event with what we do for the contestants.
‚ÄúWe have the schedule and the format so they can compete here and still be able to make it to all those other big-money events that same week.‚ÄĚ
Barrel racers and roughstock cowboys ‚Äď those who ride bucking horses and bulls ‚Äď all compete in one go-round, while other timed-event contestants compete in two rounds. Steer wrestlers, team ropers and tie-down ropers will compete in the first round during their given day, with the top performers returning to compete in the evening performances for the second round; the rest will run in Round 2 during the afternoon performance.
The format allows for the cream of the crop to play the game in front of some of the most knowledgeable fans in the game and others who are in Lovington to take in all the entertainment possible through the fair.
Many of the top contestants have ties to Lea County, including team ropers Jim Ross Cooper and Jake Cooper of Monument, both of whom are among the top cowboys in their given disciplines; tie-down roper Clint Cooper, a five-time NFR qualifier who grew up in Lovington; Marty Jones, a 16-time finalist, in both tie-down and steer roping, from Hobbs; and bareback rider Luke Creasy, an Alberta-born bareback rider who is trying to secure his first berth to the finals while living in Lovington.
‚ÄúIn talking to the cowboys during the NFR, the one thing I hear across the board is they like the atmosphere here in Lea County,‚ÄĚ said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. ‚ÄúThey feel like we do everything we can to accommodate them. That‚Äôs got to be one common denominator for our rodeo.‚ÄĚ
Hundreds of ProRodeo‚Äôs greatest stars make their way to Lea County every August for a lot of reasons. The fans reap the rewards.
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď Rodeo is nothing new to the folks in Lea County; many know all the intricacies that go into each event.
The Lea County Fair and Rodeo features the very best bull riders in the world on one night during Lea County Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, at Jake McClure Arena.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs an extraordinary event,‚ÄĚ said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to have the top 40 bull riders all here competing. Rodeo fans will get to see their favorites, but it also draws a bit of a different crowd, people that enjoy thrill-seekers.
‚ÄúOur Xtreme Bulls has grown every year. It‚Äôs been a big hit.‚ÄĚ
The 2014 championship was a huge hit for Tim Bingham, a 23-year-old bull rider from Honeyville, Utah. He won both go-rounds ‚Äď he scored 89.5 points to win the first round on Salt River Rodeo‚Äôs Lucky Dog, then followed with a 91 on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Lineman. It was the perfect finish for a solid week on the ProRodeo trail.
‚ÄúThat was my first Division I win,‚ÄĚ he said of the elite level of Xtreme Bulls competition, which also features a Division II level. ‚ÄúDivision I events throw out the big money.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs true. By dominating the event in Lovington last August, Bingham pocketed $11,577. His big-time run began the week before by winning the Division II event in Dodge City, Kan. He also earned paydays in Abilene, Kan., and Sidney, Iowa, to earn more than $18,000 in eight days.
‚ÄúBy winning both rounds, I maxed out on what I could get in Lovington,‚ÄĚ said Bingham, who parlayed that run and a few others into his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport‚Äôs premier championship that crowns world champions each December. ‚ÄúThat win threw me up in the standings so high that I was ensured I was going to make the NFR. There was no stress needed.
‚ÄúThat threw me so far off the bubble, I knew I was going. At the time, it moved me into contention for the world title. I had a legitimate shot at winning the world title with that big boost.‚ÄĚ
In rodeo, dollars not only pay bills, they also count as championship points. Contestants in each event that finish with the most money are crowned world champions. Bingham ended the 2014 campaign with $115,670, good enough for seventh place in the world standings. The Xtreme Bulls tour made a big difference in how the Utah cowboy finished the season.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs very important, because they pay good and it‚Äôs just bull riding,‚ÄĚ Bingham said. ‚ÄúIn the money I won last year, $20,000 came in the Xtreme Bulls. It made a big difference to my standings and placing in the world.‚ÄĚ
The tour also is important for fans who love a good show. The Lea County Xtreme Bulls features the top 40 bull riders in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association competing in one go-round. The cowboys with the top 12 scores advance to the championship round, and the overall winner is the cowboy with the best aggregate score on two rides.
‚ÄúThe fans who come to our Xtreme Bulls tell us how much they enjoy it, so it‚Äôs a valuable part of our fair and rodeo,‚ÄĚ Massey said. ‚ÄúIt is an awesome production to watch.‚ÄĚ
Yes, it is.
DUNCAN, Okla. ‚Äď Next week‚Äôs run of rodeos is a vital time in the schedule of the Prairie Circuit‚Äôs top players.
ProRodeo cowboys and cowgirls call it the ‚ÄúKansas Run,‚ÄĚ because of the weeklong series of events that take place primarily in the Sunflower State. It‚Äôs a great opportunity for the sport‚Äôs stars to earn big paydays while competing at events that are within close proximity to one another. That includes those battling for the regional honors.
The ‚ÄúKansas Run‚ÄĚ is a vital cog for those hoping to qualify for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15-Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.
The biggest event in the region is Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, which is part of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour and offers the largest purse among all events in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Also in Kansas are events in Hill City, Phillipsburg and Abilene, and a couple of other communities that border the Prairie Circuit also count their events toward the standings.
How important is the run that concludes the first weekend in August? Each of the nine year-end champions utilized those earnings to claim their crowns last season, with heeler Billie Saebens and barrel racer Gretchen Benbenek pulling in the largest sums. Saebens, who competed with header Adam Rose last season, won the title in Sidney, Iowa, and finished third in the three-run average in Dodge City. He pocketed $6,575.
Benbenek cashed checks at four stops; she finished fourth in Dodge City and placed in Abilene, Phillipsburg and Sidney to add $6,000. It helped to propel the Montana-born cowgirl to her second straight regional crown.
Steer wrestler Stockton Graves won Hill City and earned nearly $1,000, while bareback rider Caine Riddle shared the victory in Phillipsburg and placed in Abilene and Sidney to collect $2,784. Header Andrew Ward, roping with his brother, Reagan, finished fourth in Phillipsburg, earning $2,108, while tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger earned $2,176 in Hill City and Abilene.
Chet Herren took advantage of the only event of the week that held steer roping in Dodge City, placing in the second round to add a little more than $1,000, while bull rider Bart Miller won the first round and finished second in the average inside Roundup Arena to pocket $4,591.
Saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell posted the highest marked ride of the 2014 season with a 92 during the championship round in Dodge City to win the two-ride average championship; he also added money in Phillipsburg to deposit $4,600.
The week is filled with promise and opportunity, and last year‚Äôs winners need to capitalize again if they hope to return to the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo and have a chance to defend their titles.
It should be worth it for fans, too.
EAGLE, Colo. ‚Äď Richmond Champion knows what it‚Äôs like to be on the perfect joyride.
‚ÄúThe only bad thing is when you get the whistle, you don‚Äôt want to stop,‚ÄĚ said Champion, a 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from The Woodlands, Texas.
He‚Äôs talking about matching moves with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Dirty Jacket. On Wednesday night, the tandem met again during the first performance of the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo; they danced across the Johnette Phillips Arena dirt for 90 points to take the early lead in bareback riding.
It marked the third matchup in less than a year for Champion and Dirty Jacket, the 2014 Bareback Horse of the Year; Champion won the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo last July after a 91-point ride on Dirty Jacket, then won the fifth go-round at the 2014 NFR on the 11-year-old bay gelding.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been a heck of a year so far,‚ÄĚ said Champion, who is ranked 42nd in the world standings and needs a big push through the remaining weeks of the 2015 season if he‚Äôs going to return to Las Vegas for ProRodeo‚Äôs finale. ‚ÄúI was so excited. It was the first one I‚Äôve drawn this year that I‚Äôve jumped out of the van and went for a run.
‚Äúhe horses buck up here in Eagle. The cool weather and the mountains make it awesome.‚ÄĚ
It marked the fourth time this season that Dirty Jacket has been at least 90 points: He matched moves with Jessy Davis for 93 points at the San Angelo Cinch Shootout in February. Dirty Jacket posted 90 points in Weatherford, Texas in June, and two weeks later posted a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association best 92-point ride in Pecos, Texas.
‚ÄúHe looked awesome and felt outstanding,‚ÄĚ Champion said of the horse. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs definitely one of a kind. I felt good. Regardless if that score holds up to win, it always feels good to be 90 and make a good ride.‚ÄĚ
Through the struggles that have been Champion‚Äôs season, he continues to battle through the roller coaster that is ProRodeo. He said traveling with four-time world champion Kaycee Feild, NFR-qualifier Davis and Mason Clements has helped a ton, but there‚Äôs a lot more to bareback riding. On a 100-point scale, half the points are awarded to the cowboy, with the other coming from the horse.
Getting the right horse at the right time makes a big difference. The Texas cowboy hasn‚Äôt had as many opportunities this season as he did in 2014.
‚ÄúThings have progressively been getting better now regarding my riding,‚ÄĚ Champion said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve got a new riggin‚Äô and a new pad, and I‚Äôm going out of my way to set myself up for success. My drawing good horses is picking up, too.
‚ÄúOf course, having Dirty Jacket will help turn your whole world around. There‚Äôs literally not another horse like him.‚ÄĚ
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď The versatility of daily entertainers is a big reason the Lea County Fair and Rodeo has been attractive spot for longtime attendees.
This year‚Äôs lineup is no different. From conjurer Robert Smith to The Great Bear Show, fairgoers will have the opportunity to experience a little bit of Hollywood magic and an inspiring tribute to some of the world‚Äôs most majestic animals during this year‚Äôs exposition, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.
‚ÄúI think the daily entertainers gives people a broader spectrum to our fair and rodeo,‚ÄĚ said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. ‚ÄúEveryone knows there‚Äôs going to be the concerts, the rodeo and the carnival, but this adds a variety to what‚Äôs out there.‚ÄĚ
The Great Bear Show features cubs that were adopted through either state wildlife agencies or the United States Department of Agriculture, who contact show organizers to find the young bears a home.
The Great Bear Show staff takes the cubs in, trains them to be handled safely and try to find them good homes in licensed centers that have room.
‚ÄúWe also take them on the road to events to educate the public about bears in the wind and captivity,‚ÄĚ stated information from the show‚Äôs website.
Smith‚Äôs conjurer persona was inspired by the coin-operated fortune-teller machines but features a new twist. Imagine the Tom Hanks movie ‚ÄúBig,‚ÄĚ in which young Josh makes a wish to be big, which led to Hanks‚Äô classic portrayal of a boy in a man‚Äôs body.
The entertainers are set up to be the perfect fit for families and other fair-goers who enjoy the overall fair experience that comes with the reasonable ticket prices ‚Äď admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children daily.
‚ÄúWhat we want with our daily entertainment is for people to have something new and different, and we‚Äôre definitely getting that this year,‚ÄĚ Helton said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm excited to see it myself and to hear what others have to say about these acts.‚ÄĚ
DODGE CITY, Kan. ‚Äď When most people think of Dodge City, they conjure up images of the Old West and Matt Dillon.
Rodeo folks look at the western Kansas community of nearly 28,000 as the home of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, an important roadway as an important path on the rodeo trail. This year‚Äôs event is set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 29-Sunday, Aug. 2, at Roundup Arena.
‚ÄúThis rodeo has helped a lot of people make the finals and win the world,‚ÄĚ said Wade Sundell, the reigning Roundup saddle bronc riding champion. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve always wanted to do good at this rodeo.‚ÄĚ
Until 2014, the Iowa-born cowboy had just about anything but success inside Roundup Arena.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve done bad at it every year,‚ÄĚ said Sundell, a six-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Coleman, Okla., who posted a 92-point ride in the championship round to win the two-ride aggregate and earn more than $4,000. ‚ÄúThis is awesome to win it.‚ÄĚ
Roundup is one of just 18 events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association that has a championship round. That says a lot considering there are more than 600 ProRodeo events in a given year.
Sundell was one of 12 contestants who won titles at the 2014 Roundup Rodeo. Barrel racer Christine Laughlin of Pueblo, Colo., had the biggest earnings of all, pocketing just shy of $8,000 by placing in all three go-rounds ‚Äď she won the first round and final rounds and finished fifth in the second.
‚ÄúI had my hopes high when I went back last year, because Sabrina (Ketcham) had won that year and barely beat me,‚ÄĚ said Laughlin, who qualified for the NFR and finished the campaign 14th in the world standings. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs one of those big rodeos that you‚Äôre really excited with you win that buckle. It felt just as prestigious as any other because it was Dodge City. It‚Äôs a pretty neat deal.
‚ÄúThat committee tried really hard, because the conditions with all the rain and mud weren‚Äôt ideal. Hats off to the grounds crew; they did an awesome job.‚ÄĚ
She was one 10 winners in 2014 to have qualified for the NFR. In fact, just steer roper Tyrel Taton and steer wrestler Timmy Sparing ‚Äď who shared the title with Bray Armes and K.C. Jones ‚Äď have not finished any season among the top 15 in the world standings.
Of the remaining reigning champions, only all-around winner Landon McClaugherty failed to qualify for either the NFR or the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping last season. All the rest of the cowboys were part of the elite field in Las Vegas this past December:
‚ÄúEvery year, we get the top cowboys and cowgirls in the game,‚ÄĚ said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the Roundup committee. ‚ÄúWe are always excited to have world champions win a Roundup buckle. We do everything we can to make sure they keep coming back to Dodge City.‚ÄĚ
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď It takes a small army to handle even the tiniest of details that come with producing a large event.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre blessed that we have a strong core group of volunteers who donate their time and energy to our fair and rodeo and also have the county staff that makes a lot happen,‚ÄĚ said Corey Helton, chairman of the board that organizes the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, in Lovington.
‚ÄúWe have a countless number of people who help us every year,‚ÄĚ Helton said. ‚ÄúThis fair wouldn‚Äôt be able to function without the volunteers. That‚Äôs how important they are to the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.‚ÄĚ
Most of the work is done behind the scenes, and the average fairgoer will never comprehend the amount of labor that goes into each activity. That‚Äôs done for a reason, and it‚Äôs been that way for all 80 years of the local fair.
‚ÄúFor the livestock shows, each animal species has its own superintendent,‚ÄĚ Helton said. ‚ÄúEach one is in charge of that species of animal at the fair, so it‚Äôs very important.
‚ÄúI can‚Äôt even estimate how many man-hours are involved, especially when you add in the year leading up to the fair. We often forget about all the hours of volunteer work before the fair even gets here, much less during fair week.‚ÄĚ
In Lovington, though, it goes well beyond those who donate all that time and their own talents. There are Lea County staff members that also handle a good portion of the heavy lifting. The fair is underwritten by the Lea County Commission, so staff members take care of numerous aspects of getting everything ready.
‚ÄúThe reality for our fair and rodeo is that we have some great people who do outstanding work to make it all happen,‚ÄĚ said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. ‚ÄúWe couldn‚Äôt do any of our work without Jim Kemp.‚ÄĚ
Kemp works in the facilities department for the county. He oversees much of the work at Jake McClure Arena, among other aspects of his job. He also takes care of the arena dirt to make sure the ground conditions are in the best shape possible for the competition.
‚ÄúJim takes a lot of pride in our rodeo, and he has reason to,‚ÄĚ Massey said. ‚ÄúHe works tirelessly to make it as close to perfect as he can.‚ÄĚ
That kind of community effort makes for an incredible experience for anyone attending the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.
DALLAS ‚Äď World-class cowboys crave the opportunities to be matched with world-class bucking animals.
They get that with the athletic buckers from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock producer at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22-Saturday, July 25, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
‚ÄúI think Pete‚Äôs just tried to fortify a herd of animals that a guy has a chance to win on,‚ÄĚ said Luke Creasy, a top-10 bareback rider from Lovington, N.M. ‚ÄúWith a lot of horses he has, you have a chance to be 90 on a horse any day of the week at his rodeo. That‚Äôs important when we‚Äôre rodeoing.‚ÄĚ
Creasy knows. In June, the Alberta-born cowboy matched moves with Carr‚Äôs Night Bells for 90 points to split the victory in Weatherford, Texas, with Winn Ratliff, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who rodeo Dirty Jacket to share the title.
They are two of four bareback riders that have been marked at least 90 points in 2015, joining Jessy Davis and Ryan Gray. Davis, a six-time NFR qualifier, was 93 points on Dirty Jacket to win the Cinch Shootout in San Angelo, Texas, in January; Gray, an eight-time finalist, was 92 points to win in Pecos, Texas, in late June.
But those weren‚Äôt the only rides in the 90s on Carr animals so far this year. A trio of bull riders also hit that magic mark in June: Caleb Robinson rode Vegas and Cameron Bland rode Salty Dog for 90 points to share the victory in Weatherford, while Scottie Knapp scored 93 points on Half Nutz.
‚ÄúWhen you go to Pete‚Äôs rodeos, you know you‚Äôre going to have a shot to win first,‚ÄĚ said Ratliff, who also added victories at Carr events in Nacogdoches, Texas, and Crosby, Texas. ‚ÄúYou have to do your part and ride good, but if you do your job, you‚Äôre going to have the opportunity to win the rodeo.‚ÄĚ
Gray has two big victories on Carr animals this season. It‚Äôs one of the reasons he‚Äôs among the top 15 in the world standings with just weeks remaining in the 2015 campaign ‚Äď only the top 15 at the end of the regular season qualify for the NFR. In addition to the Pecos victory, Gray followed that a week later with an 89-point ride on Carr‚Äôs Outa Sight to win in Window Rock, Ariz.
‚ÄúI love going to Pete‚Äôs rodeos because he‚Äôs got great horses,‚ÄĚ Gray said. ‚ÄúYou want to have the opportunity to be a lot of points, and he‚Äôs got the horses that you can. I love going to his rodeos and having that opportunity every time.‚ÄĚ
The Carr herd includes about 100 of the best bucking animals in the world. In both the 2013-14 seasons, 27 Carr animals were selected to perform at the NFR; that‚Äôs a record of animals coming from one contractor.
‚ÄúI just think it‚Äôs a phenomenal herd, and you have a good opportunity to win any time when you draw the top animals,‚ÄĚ Ratliff said, pointing great buckers like Dirty Jacket, Night Bells, Outa Sight, Half Nutz, Big Tex, Spur Strap, Good Time Charlie, Scarlet‚Äôs Web, Footloose and a host of other top animal athletes. ‚ÄúWhen you have your name next to theirs, it makes rodeoing a lot easier.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs why Carr-produced rodeos are sought after by the game‚Äôs top cowboys.
DODGE CITY, Kan. ‚Äď In any sport, momentum can be the key between success and failure.
The pendulum can swing in either direction. When it‚Äôs heading in the positive direction, great things can happen.
Bull rider Tim Bingham felt that last summer in his first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It all began at the Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls competition, where Bingham rode two bulls and earned the event title. He carried that momentum and found himself playing on the sport‚Äôs biggest stage in Las Vegas this past December.
‚ÄúIt set me off on the right foot,‚ÄĚ said Bingham, 23, of Honeyville, Utah. ‚ÄúThat was my first one for that little run as the week went on. It set me up to make a really good run in the end.‚ÄĚ
He will try to defend that title during this year‚Äôs Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, at Roundup Arena. He needs all the help he can get if he hopes to return to the NFR in a little more than four months, but he has a good idea of what can happen in a short amount of time.
Starting with Xtreme Bulls in Dodge City, Bingham placed that same week in Abilene, Kan., and Sidney, Iowa. A week later in Lovington, N.M., the Utah cowboy won both rounds and the overall championship at the Lea County Xtreme Bulls. In just eight days, he earned $18,293; more than $5,200 came in western Kansas.
‚ÄúI drew two really good bulls, Centerfold and Swamp Dog,‚ÄĚ he said of his Dodge City victory. ‚ÄúI knew as long as I stayed on, they‚Äôd do their part. I‚Äôve never seen any one of those bulls have a bad trip.‚ÄĚ
It worked out quite well. Bingham finished the regular season with more than $85,000 in earnings. He then added another $30,000 at the NFR to have his best season ever. He began the 2015 campaign with a bang by winning the rodeo in Billings, Mont., then suffered a severe injury at a bull riding in January.
‚ÄúI broke my left leg and ankle, and I had to have a plate and five screws put in,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI broke my right foot in three spots. I also broke my right elbow and had to get a long rod in my elbow down to my forearm.‚ÄĚ
But his cowboy mentality kept him on the sidelines for just four months. He returned in May in time to win the Helldorado Days Rodeo in Las Vegas.
‚ÄúThings haven‚Äôt gone too hot since,‚ÄĚ Bingham said. ‚ÄúRight off the bat, I thought it would be OK, but it‚Äôs been pretty slow.‚ÄĚ
As of mid-July, Bingham sits outside the top 50 in the world standings. He‚Äôs a long ways from earning a spot at the NFR ‚Äď only the top 15 contestants in each event at the end of the regular season qualify for the finale.
‚ÄúI haven‚Äôt stressed about it one time, because I know how the last couple of months play the biggest role in rodeo,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm positive. I‚Äôm still visualizing making the NFR. There are plenty of bulls and time to get there. I‚Äôm still planning on getting there.‚ÄĚ
Dodge City Xtreme Bulls features a night of strictly bull riding. The Roundup committee has done everything possible to ensure the top players in the game will be on hand for the competition by coming up with sponsorship dollars. That money, combined with the cowboys‚Äô entry fees, will make up a hefty purse.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been very pleased with Xtreme Bulls,‚ÄĚ said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the rodeo committee. ‚ÄúWe want our fans to see the top bull riders rodeo, and they know they‚Äôre going to get that on Tuesday night.‚ÄĚ
For the cowboys, Xtreme Bulls is a major part of each rodeo season.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs very important, because they pay good and it‚Äôs just bull riding,‚ÄĚ Bingham said. ‚ÄúIn the money I won last year, $20,000 came in the Xtreme Bulls. It made a big difference to my standings and placing in the world.
‚ÄúWhen it comes down to it, consistency lays a big roll. If a guy can get hot and stay hot, a lot of things can happen. If you can get on that roll, it can be easy for you. Nobody knows how it clicks and how it doesn‚Äôt. If a guy could figure out the difference, they‚Äôd win the world every time. It‚Äôs nice when it comes around, that‚Äôs for sure.‚ÄĚ
Dodge City‚Äôs a good place to get that roll started.
EAGLE, Colo. ‚Äď The Eagle County Fairgrounds is the perfect setting for some of the most wild rodeo action ever seen in Colorado.
It‚Äôs home to the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22-Saturday, July 25, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds. Surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains, it‚Äôs as picturesque as any event in ProRodeo and a regular showcase for the world‚Äôs greatest stars.
That‚Äôs thanks in large part to the local hospitality and the production and bucking stock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the longstanding stock contractor in Eagle.
‚ÄúI believe what makes our rodeo special is the people in this community and the support they give us,‚ÄĚ said Tanya Dahlseid, a key member of the Eagle County staff. ‚ÄúI also think Pete Carr and his staff have made it so amazing with the quality and level of the performances. We get compliments from all over about our rodeo.‚ÄĚ
The Carr firm has been recognized as one of the very best in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, having been nominated as Stock Contractor of the Year each of the past two seasons. The cowboys like the Carr animal athletes so much, they‚Äôve selected 27 to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, a record for animals from one stock contractor at ProRodeo‚Äôs grand finale.
‚ÄúWhen I hear the name Pete Carr, I think of something spectacular and very professional,‚ÄĚ Dahlseid said. ‚ÄúThe whole group of Pete‚Äôs staff that comes is great; it‚Äôs an honor to have them here. I express that to a lot of people in the county.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre very fortunate to have Pete Carr.‚ÄĚ
A number of the top cowboys in the game agree. Six seasons ago, eight-time NFR qualifier Ryan Gray tied the world record with a 94-point ride on Carr‚Äôs Grass Dancer. A few weeks ago, Gray matched moves with reigning Bareback Horse of the Year Dirty Jacket for 92 points to win in Pecos, Texas; it was the highest marked ride so far in 2015.
But the mountain air makes for amazing feats. Four-time world champion Bobby Mote was 90 points to win the Eagle bareback riding title on Betty Boop. High scores seem to be the norm inside Johnette Phillips Arena.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs pretty incredible to see these animals when they‚Äôre here,‚ÄĚ Dahlseid said. ‚ÄúPete has incredible horses and bulls, and his staff is pretty impressive and amazing, too. It brings a whole different level of professionalism to our event.‚ÄĚ
This year‚Äôs rodeo will feature clown Brian Potter and Mustang Millionaire winner Bobby Kerr, whose work with wild mustangs has become a showcase of true horsemanship skills and the mindset of horses. Together, Potter and Kerr are a major piece of the entertainment package.
It all adds up to a great event for local fans and those who make their way to Eagle County as a summer vacation destination.
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď Fans in Lea County know what it takes to make a good rodeo.
They‚Äôre used to seeing it every year at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 8, at Jake McClure Arena. Throw in the Lea County Xtreme Bulls at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, and it‚Äôs five nights of world-class rodeo action.
The volunteer committee works hard to make sure fans see the greatest show possible, and that includes the production and animal athletes from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the primary livestock producer in Lovington.
‚ÄúWhen we decided on the Xtreme Bulls, we did so while working with Pete Carr to make sure it was what our fans would expect and appreciate,‚ÄĚ said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. ‚ÄúLike any typical Pete Carr event, he goes above and beyond what he promises to deliver. He‚Äôs particular about the kind of show he puts on. He wants it to be the absolute best it can be. He‚Äôll go wherever he needs to go to get the kind of stock he needs for our event.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think other contractors take the personal interest in the event like Pete does ‚Ä¶ not only Pete but his personnel. They are very concerned that the committee is happy and they‚Äôre doing what we want them to do.‚ÄĚ
The Carr firm includes many of the top animals in the game, including Dirty Jacket, the reigning Bareback Horse of the Year that has finished among the top three in voting each of the past three seasons. Over the past two years, 27 Carr animals have been selected to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport‚Äôs grand finale.
‚ÄúPete Carr has the bucking horses and bulls that are unreal,‚ÄĚ said bareback rider Clint Cannon, a four-time NFR qualifier from Waller, Texas. ‚ÄúWhen I think about Pete Carr, I think about 90-point rides, rock ‚Äôn‚Äô roll music and fans loving it.‚ÄĚ
But there‚Äôs more to the rodeo than bucking stock. It takes a professional production to showcase an award-winning event like the Lea County Fair and Rodeo in a timely fashion so that fairgoers have the opportunity to enjoy other aspects of the exposition.
‚ÄúWe try to have the theatrical portion of our show not interfere with the competition side,‚ÄĚ said John Gwatney, a production supervisor for the Dallas-based livestock firm. ‚ÄúWe try to run a good, fast, clean performance without interfering with the competition.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs where we‚Äôre different from other rodeo companies. If we‚Äôre not ready, the cowboy has to wait. When it comes time for that cowboy to compete, we‚Äôve done everything we can to make that animal ready for that cowboy, so all he has to do is nod his head.‚ÄĚ
When mixed with great contestants, a knowledgeable fan base in Lea County and a strong connection with the fair board and rodeo committee, it makes for an incredible experience for everyone involved.
‚ÄúPete Carr puts on a great rodeo,‚ÄĚ said Sage Kimzey, the reigning world champion bull rider. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm thankful he loves the sport of rodeo so much and wants it to be so great.‚ÄĚ
It shows in the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď As fairgoers are making plans for the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo, the staffs at the Tate Branch Auto Group dealerships in Hobbs, Carlsbad and Artesia are making plans themselves.
In addition to being the presenting sponsor for the annual exposition, the Tate Branch team has numerous plans scheduled during the nine-day fair, scheduled for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.
‚ÄúWe are having our second annual ‚ÄėAll RAM No Bull‚Äô off-site sale in Lovington that week,‚ÄĚ said Joby Houghtaling, chief managing officer for the auto group. ‚ÄúOn the last day of the fair and rodeo, we will have a major blowout with lots of prizes to be given away, including a Sea Doo boat as the grand prize at our off-site sale.‚ÄĚ
The many pieces have all come together to mark the 80th anniversary of the fair and rodeo, which has been recognized as one of the largest expos in the region. Fairgoers from all across New Mexico and Texas may their way to Lovington every August to take in all the events, including top-named concerts, carnival, livestock shows, daily entertainers and one of the top rodeos in the country.
A big part of the event‚Äôs success is because of the community support from a variety of local sponsors, and Tate Branch Auto Group is the largest.
‚ÄúI feel like I‚Äôm very, very blessed,‚ÄĚ said Tate Branch, the auto group‚Äôs owner. ‚ÄúI feel like I‚Äôm in a position that God has blessed me, and this is one way I could give back.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs because of the relationship between the dealerships and the fair that there is such a wide variety of activities that take place in Lea County that week.
In addition, the Tate Branch Auto Group also sponsors several levels of rodeo, including seven top cowboys: tie-down roping brothers Clif and Clint Cooper and their legendary father, Roy Cooper; steer roper Marty Jones; and team roping twins Jake and Jim Ross Cooper; and two-time world champion saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to have one of the area‚Äôs top radio station doing a morning show on site at our sale Tuesday-Friday of fair week, and we are going to try to have all the ‚ÄėRiding for the Brand‚Äô cowboys at the morning shows. We plan to have them be available for autographs and pictures with the public.‚ÄĚ
Those appearances are one aspect of reaching out and giving back to consumers that sets the Tate Branch Auto Group apart from most dealerships. Houghtaling, Branch and the rest of the staff realize that there is something special happening at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo and want everyone to enjoy all the festivities.
‚ÄúWe have always believed with the three dealerships that there is an importance to being involved in the community and giving back to the community,‚ÄĚ said Branch, who, like Houghtaling, grew up in southeastern New Mexico. ‚ÄúWe are very family oriented and community oriented.‚ÄĚ
It rings true every August.
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď If Jake McClure Arena had a trophy case, it would be full of awards for this year‚Äôs Lea County Fair and Rodeo.
The annual event, now in its 80th year, is a two-time nominee for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year, having received those bids each of the past two years.
‚ÄúTo be mentioned in the same breath as Cheyenne (Wyo.) and Pendleton (Ore.) is an honor,‚ÄĚ said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee that is part of the Lea County Fair Board. ‚ÄúFor me, I realize how blessed I am to be part of a great event and to get to work with such a wonderful, hard-working group of volunteers.‚ÄĚ
Nominations are based on voting by PRCA members, and only five events in each category are among the finalists. Since the award was created in 1993, only six rodeos have earned the title; of those, Cheyenne has won the award 16 times. Other finalists in 2014 were Ogden, Utah, and Salinas, Calif.
‚ÄúTo be nominated is an honor itself,‚ÄĚ said Corey Helton, the fair board chairman. ‚ÄúWhen you look at the list of rodeos in our category, it says a lot about the work our rodeo committee has been doing.‚ÄĚ
The volunteer committee is just one piece of an award-winning puzzle for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 8. It takes amazing talent to make an event like this click off so well:
‚ÄúWe are fortunate to work with the best professionals in rodeo,‚ÄĚ Massey said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm surprised Andy hasn‚Äôt won Announcer of the Year yet. He does everything that we ask for and is excellent at it.‚ÄĚ
It takes that kind of trust to produce such a top-flight event, but it also takes a dedicated group of volunteers to make it happen in Lea County. The committee works together all year to showcase the rodeo to a region that knows the sport well.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve all shared in the vision of what our rodeo in Lovington could be,‚ÄĚ Massey said. ‚ÄúFor our committee to do what we‚Äôve done is because we‚Äôve had great support. Stephanie Rice and the office personnel over the last several years have done such a wonderful job of taking care of the behind-the-scenes things that no one ever knew about to make it easy for us to focus on what we needed to do and not be concerned about all the other details.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs an award-winning combination.