DUNCAN, Okla. ‚Äď For years, Shy-Anne Jarrett stood in the background as the rodeo world shined its light on her husband, 2005 all-around world champion Ryan Jarrett.
The spotlight will beam brightly on the Comanche, Okla., cowgirl during 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.
For the second straight year, the former Shy-Anne Bowden has qualified for the regional finale, which features only the top 12 contestants in each event from cowboys, cowgirls and events primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve rodeoed, but I never went that much,‚ÄĚ she said, noting that she‚Äôs competed in barrel racing in ProRodeo for several years. ‚ÄúI‚Äôd just go to a handful of circuit rodeos. I‚Äôd get a little money won, and I‚Äôd usually take off with him. I wouldn‚Äôt go as much as I have the last two years.‚ÄĚ
Ryan Jarrett has now qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo nine times, eight in tie-down roping. In 2005, he earned the trip to Las Vegas in both tie-down roping and steer wrestling, and he walked away from the Nevada desert with the most coveted prize in the game, the gold buckle awarded to the world champion all-around cowboy.
In fact, since 2002, he is the only man outside of 21-time champ Trevor Brazile to have earned that championship ‚Äď Brazile owns 12 all-around titles, five in steer roping, three in tie-down roping and one in heading.
But Ryan failed to qualify for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2015, so all eyes will be on the local girl. Shy-Anne, the daughter of Billy Bob and Sandy Bowden, grew up in a rodeo family. Dad roped calves and has trained tie-down roping horses for years, while mom was a professional barrel racer, much like her daughter.
‚ÄúShe actually missed the finals in the late ‚Äô70s,‚ÄĚ said Shy-Anne, who was raised in and still lives in Comanche, just eight miles from the Stephens County Arena. ‚ÄúAfter she had me, she trained futurity horses.
‚ÄúRodeo is just a way of life.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs still the case. Shy-Anne has been riding horses since she was a toddler and began competing at about 5 years of age. It engrained a passion a deep passion for the sport, and she‚Äôs competed in most female-based disciplines over her lifetime.
‚ÄúI did them all in high school,‚ÄĚ she said of barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping and goat tying. ‚ÄúI really do like to breakaway rope. I don‚Äôt do very much of it anymore, but it‚Äôs right up there on the list.‚ÄĚ
Her focus these days is in barrel racing, primarily because the financial opportunities in rodeo are greater in that event than in the roping. Of course, it helps to have a solid partner, and she does in Cuatro Snow, an 11-year-old bay/brown gelding she calls Cuatro.
‚ÄúI got him when he was 5 years old,‚ÄĚ Shy-Anne said. ‚ÄúHe had been on the track a little but not in any races. He‚Äôd been worked out. I‚Äôve done all the legwork myself; I started him completely. When I got him, he was track broke, but he was not the brokest thing. I spent a lot of time getting that done.
‚ÄúI knew right away when I started him on the barrels that he had enough potential.‚ÄĚ
She seasoned Cuatro, meaning exposing him to all the things that can happen in barrel racing and rodeo. From crowds to added noise to traveling, it‚Äôs all part of conditioning the animal to perform at its best. Now she will enter the circuit finals as the eighth-ranked cowgirl in the standings.
‚ÄúI always knew he had the talent to do it, so I stuck with him,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThe last three years has been fun.
‚ÄúGoing a little more is my goal for next year. The past two summers, I‚Äôve gone to my circuit rodeos. Next year, I‚Äôd like to go a little bit more.‚ÄĚ
Even though Ryan won‚Äôt be in the competition in Duncan, he will be around to lend a hand and plenty of support. The two have been together since the fall of 2005, just a few months prior to his most celebrated moment, and married in December 2010.
‚ÄúI was there at his first NFR and his first gold buckle,‚ÄĚ Shy-Anne said.
Ryan not only returns to the NFR this December, but he also has qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo, which will take place in November in Edmonton, Alberta. That means through the 2015 campaign, the couple spent more time apart than they had in years as she worked to make her way into the circuit finale.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs hard, because you put your normal wife things, the normal activities, on hold a little bit,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI think we make it work because we have good communication, and we help each other even though we‚Äôre not right there together.‚ÄĚ
The good news is they‚Äôll be together in mid-October while competing close to home.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs really neat being this close to home,‚ÄĚ Shy-Anne said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs another reason I wanted to pursue making the circuit finals the last couple of years. It‚Äôs a good place to have it. I know the Prairie Circuit has struggled to have a place to call it home. To me, that makes a difference when you‚Äôre trying to qualify for the circuit finals.
‚ÄúYou want to have a good rodeo and a good committee to work with.‚ÄĚ
She may be a little biased, but that‚Äôs OK. Both Billy Bob and Sandy Bowden are instrumental in planning the annual championship in Duncan. But as a cowgirl that competes for a living, there‚Äôs much more that goes into her quest for rodeo titles.
‚ÄúI rodeo because I love it,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think I ever could‚Äôve been one who sat in a cubicle from 9 to 5. I have to have a challenge. I crave the work. It‚Äôs living on the edge, from one day to the next. That‚Äôs the way with rodeo and with training horses.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs also the heart and soul of a champion.
ALVA, Okla. ‚Äď Goals and aspirations are one thing; accomplishing them oftentimes is another.
For the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo teams, reaching goals is all about the preparation involved. With just two events under their belts, the men‚Äôs and women‚Äôs squads are reaching for championships for the 2015-16 season.
‚ÄúAs a team, I think we have all the talent to win the region,‚ÄĚ said Austin Graham, a bareback rider from Jay, Okla. ‚ÄúThe way I look at it, it looks like we have the talent to compete for a national title.‚ÄĚ
Each step taken by the Rangers is one more toward that ultimate prize. The first happens in the practice arena, where cowboys and cowgirls hone their skills and their mindsets in order to compete in the Central Plains Region, annually recognized as one of the top circuit‚Äôs in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
From there, it‚Äôs competing well at each of the 10 rodeos, and the Rangers have done that so far. In fact, Graham won the bareback riding championship this past weekend in Woodward, Okla., finishing second in both rounds and winning the two-ride aggregate. He was joined in the winner‚Äôs circle by Jacob Edler, a steer wrestler from State Center, Iowa.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve talked about this, and it‚Äôs never happened, but we want to be the men‚Äôs and women‚Äôs team champions,‚ÄĚ said Edler, who finished third in the first round, then won the championship round to claim the title in Woodward. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got the best athletes we‚Äôve ever had. We‚Äôre going to try to win first all the way around.‚ÄĚ
So far, it‚Äôs working quite well. Besides both Rangers teams being near the top of the standings, Graham, Edler and tie-down roper Bryson Seachrist of Apache, Okla., are atop the list in their events. In Woodward, Seachrist won the first round and placed in the short go-round to finish fourth overall.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been rodeoing since high school, and the key to winning at rodeos is about 20 percent talent, and the other 80 percent is being mentally strong,‚ÄĚ said Edler, noting that the teams gain a lot of understanding from coach Stockton Graves, a steer wrestler who has played on the biggest stages in the sport.
‚ÄúI think Stockton does a great job of teaching mental toughness. We have a tournament-style match for every event we do. The kids that haven‚Äôt competed much or haven‚Äôt learned how to win learn how to do approach the mental aspect of competition. It teaches you how to win.‚ÄĚ
In fact, that oftentimes is the driving force for cowboys and cowgirls in deciding on Northwestern to further their college education and rodeo training.
‚ÄúStockton has been to the NFR seven times,‚ÄĚ Graham said. ‚ÄúHe can teach you the things you need to do to go rodeo: Working on my attitude, staying positive, learning how to enter and learning how to win.‚ÄĚ
Those lessons are paying off for the Rangers. While Edler won the steer wrestling title this past weekend, he was joined in the final round by four teammates: Layne Livermont, Ty Battie, Tyrell Cline and Maverick Harper. Battie finished sixth overall, while Cline (fourth) and Harper (third) placed even higher.
The women were paced by breakaway ropers Elli Price, who finished second in both the short round and the aggregate race, and Ashton Johnson, who finished third in both rounds and the average. Laremi Allred paved the way in goat-tying, winning the final round and finishing third overall. She was joined in the short round by Shayna Miller, who placed second in the first round, and Tearnee Nelson, who finished in a tie for third in the opening round.
‚ÄúThe first weekend, I won second, and the win in Woodward is helping in the points,‚ÄĚ Edler said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm able to take the lead in the standings for the year, but I know with these rodeos it‚Äôs dang sure a marathon and not a sprint.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been awful fortunate to go to school at Northwestern. We have a great group of bulldoggers, and our coach, Stockton Graves, couldn‚Äôt be a better mentor or coach. He makes sure we‚Äôre staying sharp in the classroom and in the arena.‚ÄĚ
HEMPSTEAD, Texas ‚Äď The last time Buck Lunak competed at the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, things didn‚Äôt go so well.
‚ÄúI came here two years ago, and they threw me off,‚ÄĚ said Lunak, a bareback rider from Cut Bank, Mont. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm glad to come back and do good. It means a lot. It‚Äôll help me get my qualifications up for this year, so I‚Äôll be able to go to some bigger winter rodeos and get my shot to end up in the top 15.‚ÄĚ
He posted an 84-point ride on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Outa Sight on Saturday night to win the title and $1,951. That should be the perfect kick-start to the new season, which began Oct. 1 in Hempstead.
He‚Äôll have a solid calendar year to maintain his spot among the very best in order to qualify for 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport‚Äôs grand finale that features only the top 15 contestants from each regular season. It would be a first for the eight-year pro from the Blackfeet Nation.
‚ÄúI went out a little bit last year, but I was hurt for about four years in a row,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm a Native American and a cowboy, and if I can make a living off a horse, then that‚Äôs the greatest thing in the world. I love bareback riding. It‚Äôs wild and control; it‚Äôs everything. If you can make a job out if, that‚Äôs what I want to do. I want to do this great.‚ÄĚ
He was pretty great on the final night of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, and so was his dance partner, Outa Sight, which has been selected to buck at the NFR four times.
‚ÄúI know that everybody here wanted that horse, so I was pretty happy to have her by my name,‚ÄĚ Lunak said. ‚ÄúI just knew it was supposed to be good to ride. She‚Äôs bred out big and has the looks you want, so I was pretty excited.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs the type of horse you want to get on. She‚Äôs big and showy. She‚Äôs got the reputation, so all you‚Äôve got to do is show up and do your job.‚ÄĚ
It worked out just fine for Lunak.
Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Buck Lunak, 84 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Outa Sight, $1,951; 2. Bill Tutor, 83.5, $1,496; 3. Winn Ratliff, 82.5, $1,105; 4. Jake Brown, 81, $716; 5. (tie) Matt Bright, Evan Jayne and Heath Ford, 80, $347 each; 8. Richmond Champion, 78, $195.
Steer wrestling: 1. Stan Branco, 4.1 seconds, $2,011; 2. Cody Doescher, 4.2, $1,748; 3. Ryan Bothum, 4.3, $1,486; 4. Logan Glendhill, 4.4, $1,224; 5. (tie) Josh Clark and Tyler Gibson, 4.5, $830 each; 7. Clayton Hass, 5.0, $437; 8. Wade Steffen, 5.1, $175.
Team roping: 1. Wes Kent/Scott Webster, 4.3 seconds, $3,204 each; 2. Rowdy Riekan/Justin Price, 4.5, $2,866; 3. Will Clark/Kolby Miller, 4.7, $2,529; 4. Shane Philipp/John Philipp, 4.8, $2,192; 5. Luke Brown/Martin Lucero, 4.9, $1,855; 6. Cord Crowell/Trey Carter III and Kelsey Parchman/Matt Kasner, 5.2, $1,349 each; 8. Tyler Wade/Kinney Harrell, 5.3, $843; 8. (tie) Tee Luttrell/Clay Sieber, Logan Olson/Jordan Olson and Jake Orman/James Arnold, 5.4, $225 each.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. (tie) Nick LaDuke, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Ginger Snap, and Bradley Harter, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Fiesta Savy, 79 points, $1,823 each; 3. Sam Spreadborough, 77, $1,170; 4. (tie) Justin Caylor, Jacobs Crawley and Sterling Crawley, 76, $528 each; 7. (tie) Isaac Diaz, Alex Wright and CoBurn Bradshaw, 73, $161 each.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Timber Moore, 8.0 seconds, $2,248; 2. Houston Hutto, 8.2, $1,955; 3. (tie) Dennis Luetge and Cimarron Boardman, 9.0, $1,515 each; 5. Robert Mathis, 9.2, $1,075; 6. Josh Eirikson, 9.7, $782; 7. (tie) Ace Slone, Bradley Bynum and Clint Singleton, 10.0, $228 each.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Benette Little, 14.90 seconds, $2,666; 2. Jackie Jatzlau, 14.93, $2,266; 3. Mary Burger, 15.05, $1,866; 4. Andrea Cline, 15.09, $1,600; 5. Kelly Bruner, 15.12, $1,333; 6. Jaime Hinton, 15.14, $933; 7. Kelly Clifton, 15.21, $666; 8. Ahnna Peterson, 15.22, $533; 9. Martha Wright, 15.23, $467; 10. Raylene Cox, 15.31, $400; 11. Jenna Beaver, 15.33, $333; 12. Janet Staton, 15.35, $267.
Steer roping: First round: 1. (tie) Vin Fisher Jr., and Trey Sheets, 9.9 seconds, $897 each; 3. Scott Snedecor, 10.0, $643; 4. Ralph Williams, 10.6, $474; 5. Chet Herren, 11.0, $305; 6. Leo Campbell, 11.2, $169. Second round: 1. Lawson Plemons, 9.9 seconds, $981; 2. Tony Reina, 10.4, $812; 3. Guy Allen, 10.6, $643; 4. Corey Ross, 10.7, $474; 5. Coy Thompson, 11.3, $305; 6. J. Tom Fisher, 11.4, $169. Third round: 1. Roger Branch, 9.8 seconds, $981; 2. JB Whatley, 10.1, $812; 3. J. Tom Fisher, 10.2, $643; 4. Brian Garr, 10.4, $474; 5. C.A. Lauer, 10.6, $305; 6. Dan Fisher, 11.0, $169. Average: 1. Scott Snedecor, 33.8 seconds on three head, $1,472; 2. Trey Sheets, 35.2, $1,218; 3. Cody Lee, 36.4, $964; 4. Chet Herren, 38.2, $711; 5. John Bland, 39.0, $457; 6. Tony Reina, 39.1, $254.
Bull riding: 1. Jeffrey Joseph Ramagos, 85 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Red One, $2,200; 2. Tim Bingham, 83.5, $1,686; 3. Eli Vastbinder, 81, $1,246; 4. (tie) Troy Garcia, 79.5, $807; 5. (tie) Ardie Maier, Bayle Worden and Dustin Boquet, 79, $391 each; 8. (tie) Lucas Guilbeau and Reagan Avery, 71, $110 each.
HEMPSTEAD, Texas ‚Äď There‚Äôs only one thing better than competing together for saddle bronc riding brothers Jacobs and Sterling Crawling: Winning together.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs great that we both ride broncs because we have two chances, and the rest just have one,‚ÄĚ said Sterling Crawley, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Stephenville, Texas.
The two cowboys moved toward the top of the leaderboard on Friday night during the second performance of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo. Sterling rode Pete Carr‚Äôs Northern Spy, while Jacobs matched moves with Carr‚Äôs Disco, both scoring 76 points to move into a three-way tie for second place with Justin Caylor of Sulphur Springs, Texas.
‚ÄúI want the best for him and to have success,‚ÄĚ Jacobs Crawley said of his younger brother. ‚ÄúAnytime we can split like that, I like seeing him win. I just want to catch him.‚ÄĚ
Jacobs Crawley is a five-time NFR qualifier now living in Burney, Texas. He won the coveted average championship at ProRodeo‚Äôs grand finale in 2013 and has proven to be one of the elite bronc riders in the game for several years.
Both Crawleys have seen past success at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead, which is a big reason why they return every October. But there are other reasons.
‚ÄúI love this rodeo,‚ÄĚ Sterling said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve watched it improve every year, and the way you‚Äôre treated here is phenomenal.‚ÄĚ
For men who make a living on the rodeo trail, being able to compete close to home is big.
‚ÄúHempstead is a great rodeo and a Texas rodeo,‚ÄĚ Jacobs said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre from Texas, so it‚Äôs good for our circuit, plus Pete‚Äôs got good horses for us to get on. They have great crowds, and they love the rodeo here.
‚ÄúI also love this rodeo because we‚Äôve just come off some of the highest pressure rodeos at the end of the year. This is nice because it‚Äôs a new season; it‚Äôs a new page. We‚Äôre all starting from scratch, and there are a lot of rodeos to be had. You get to enjoy bronc riding in the most organic form.‚ÄĚ
Of course, doing well at a big-money rodeo to kick start the 2016 season is important, too.
‚ÄúIt means a whole bunch, because things have been rough this year after I came back from my groin injury,‚ÄĚ Sterling said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs nice to come to the first rodeo of the year and do good.‚ÄĚ
Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Winn Ratliff, 82.5 points on Pete Carr‚Äôs Classic Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Touched By An Angel; 2. Jake Brown, 81; 3. (tie) Matt Bright and Evan Jayne, 80; 5. Richmond Champion, 78.5; 6. Scotty NeSmith, 78; 7. Kody Lamb, 77.5; 8. David Clapp, 76.
Steer wrestling: 1. Stan Branco, 4.1 seconds; 2. Cody Doescher, 4.2; 3. Ryan Bothum, 4.3; 4. Logan Glendhill, 4.4; 5. (tie) Josh Clark and Tyler Gibson, 4.5; 7. Clayton Hass, 5.0; 8. Wade Steffen, 5.1.
Team roping: 1. Wes Kent/Scott Webster, 4.3 seconds; 2. Will Clark/Kolby Miller, 4.7; 3. Shane Philipp/John Philipp, 4.8; 4. Luke Brown/Martin Lucero, 4.9; 5. Cord Crowell/Trey Carter III, 5.2; 6. Tyler Wade/Kinney Harrell, 5.3; 7. (tie) Tee Luttrell/Clay Sieber and Jake Orman/James Arnold, 5.4; 9. Clayton Hass/Cody Doescher, 5.5; 10. Tyler Waters/Steve Northcott, 5.6.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Sam Spreadborough, 77 points on Pete Carr‚Äôs Classic Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Sky Bow; 2. (tie) Justin Caylor, Jacobs Crawley and Sterling Crawley, 76; 5. (tie) Isaac Diaz, Alex Wright and CoBurn Bradshaw, 73; 8. (tie) Kobyn Williams and Joe Harper, 70.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Timber Moore, 8.0 seconds; 2. Houston Hutto, 8.2; 3. Cimarron Boardman, 9.0; 4. Josh Eirikson, 9.7; 5. (tie) Ace Slone, Bradley Bynum and Clint Singleton, 10.0; 8. Cooper Raley, 11.7.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Benette Little, 14.90 seconds; 2. Jackie Jatzlau, 14.93; 3. Mary Burger, 15.05; 4. Andrea Cline, 15.09; 5. Kelly Bruner, 15.12; 6. Jaime Hinton, 15.14; 7. Kelly Clifton, 15.21; 8. Ahnna Peterson, 15.22; 9. Martha Wright, 15.23; 10. Jenna Beaver, 15.33; 11. Janet Staton, 15.35; 12. Holly Fenoglio, 15.37.
Bull riding: 1. Jeffrey Joseph Ramagos, 85 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Red One; 2. Tim Bingham, 83.5; 3. Eli Vastbinder, 81; 4. Troy Garcia, 79.5; 5. (tie) Ardie Maier and Dustin Boquet, 79; 7. (tie) Lucas Guilbeau and Reagan Avery, 71.
HEMPSTEAD, Texas ‚Äď Stan Branco makes no bones about his 2015 ProRodeo season.
‚ÄúI just wasn‚Äôt bulldogging good enough,‚ÄĚ said Branco, a 29-year-old steer wrestler from Chowchilla, Calif.
He kicked off his 2016 season on the right foot Thursday night with a 4.1-second run to take the early lead at the Waller County Fair and Rodeo in Hempstead.
‚ÄúI rodeoed most of ‚Äô15 and came home early,‚ÄĚ he said. I wasn‚Äôt winning like I needed to. If I start off winning now, it‚Äôll hopefully start the year off right and I won‚Äôt be home in December next year.‚ÄĚ
Each regular season runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30, and only the top 15 on the money list in each event advance to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December. It‚Äôs not only the cream of the crop in the sport, but it also features the biggest purse in rodeo.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs where you make money,‚ÄĚ said Branco, who earned a spot among the elite steer wrestlers at the NFR in 2013 and finished the season ninth in the final world standings. ‚ÄúIt took a lot of money to make it to the NFR this year. The money is really spread out, and a lot of guys can dang sure bulldog.‚ÄĚ
In fact, steer wrestling might be one of the toughest events in which to qualify for the finale, so getting an early start is key. Of course, competing in top form is also a must in the discipline, where proper technique often is matched with powerful men.
‚ÄúBulldogging used to be the place to get the aggression out,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm trying to get some of that back. I roped calves and team roped my whole life, and bulldogging is something more like football.‚ÄĚ
Standing 6-foot-4, Branco weighs in at 260 pounds, and he looks like he could easily fit into an NFL lineup.
‚ÄúThe biggest thing for me before was the fight of it,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI need to get some of that back.‚ÄĚ
It seems as though he‚Äôs well on his way.
Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Winn Ratliff, 82.5 points on Pete Carr‚Äôs Classic Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Touched By An Angel; 2. Matt Bright, 80; 3. Richmond Champion, 78.5; 4. Scotty NeSmith, 78; 5. Kody Lamb, 77.5; 6. Anthony Thomas, 74.
Steer wrestling: 1. Stan Branco, 4.1 seconds; 2. Cody Doescher, 4.2; 3. Logan Glendhill, 4.4; 4. Clayton Hass, 5.0; 5. Wade Steffen, 5.1; 6. Shayde Tree Etherton, 5.5; 7. Wyatt Carney, 6.3; 8. Daryl Joe Elliott, 7.0.
Team roping: 1. Cord Crowell/Trey Carter III, 5.2 seconds; 2. Clayton Hass/Cody Doescher, 5.5; 3. Tyler Waters/Steve Northcott, 5.6; no other qualified times.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Sam Spreadborough, 77 points on Pete Carr‚Äôs Classic Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Sky Bow; 2. (tie) Isaac Diaz, Alex Wright and CoBurn Bradshaw, 73; no other qualified rides.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Ace Slone, 10.0 seconds; 2. Trent Walls, 16.0; 3. Riley Lambert, 26.4; no other qualified times.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Brittany Grant, 15.40 seconds; 2. Tiffani Sonnier, 15.44; 3. Shelby Garcia, 15.68; 4. Jennifer Epps, 15.71; 5. Jill Tanner, 15.74; 6. Susan Liggitt, 15.88; 7. Lauren Davang, 20.63; 8. Sydni Blanchard, 21.21; 9. Sherrylynn Johnson, 22.24.
Bull riding: 1. Tim Bingham, 83.5 points on Lancaster & Pickett Rodeo‚Äôs Cash Daddy; 2. Ardie Maier, 79; no other qualified rides.
DUNCAN, Okla. ‚Äď Robbie Hodges takes his job seriously, even though it‚Äôs a bit of an oxymoron for a rodeo clown.
‚ÄúI love to look up and see the contestants watching my acts,‚ÄĚ said Hodges, who will be funnyman/barrelman during 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.
‚ÄúI love for them guys to like what I‚Äôm doing. That‚Äôs my meter of what I judge my performance by, the guys that go to 120 rodeos a year. I try to bring something different. Every performance to me is different. My (attention deficit disorder) is so bad that I couldn‚Äôt handle it if I did it any other way or if I tried to go by a certain script every time.‚ÄĚ
When rodeo regulars like Hodges‚Äô work, then there‚Äôs a good indication the crowd will, too. That‚Äôs the main reason the Georgia man has long been considered one of the very best entertainers in ProRodeo. He‚Äôs been nominated as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association‚Äôs clown of the year, entertainer of the year and the Coors Man in the Can, which recognizes the best barrelmen in the business.
‚ÄúI love to work the barrel,‚ÄĚ said Hodges, who was selected as the barrelman for the 2010 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs the most important aspect of being a barrelman, not necessarily the comedy but being there to help protect the bull riders and the bullfighters. If you‚Äôre going to be a barrelman, go get those guys. That‚Äôs been my reputation.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs one that was forged in rodeos in the Southeastern United States, where Hodges got his start in the late 1990s. His strong Georgia accent is an avenue of pride, but so is the work he does inside the arena.
‚ÄúI worked a lot of (Florida) rodeos in Okeechobee and Kissimmee, and that was a very mean place to learn,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWhen you leave there, you‚Äôd better be ready. Them bulls will just keep coming at you.‚ÄĚ
But being inside the specialized barrel isn‚Äôt the only thing Hodges has done in rodeo. In fact, he rode bareback horses for 16 years before he started wearing greasepaint and making crowds laugh at his antics.
‚ÄúI was always the guy who played tricks on everybody around me, doing things to make everybody else laugh,‚ÄĚ Hodges said. ‚ÄúEverybody told me I needed to do it.
‚ÄúI called a local stock contractor in Georgia about working some rodeos. The next thing I know I was doing five rodeos, then the next year, 20. I‚Äôm very lucky.‚ÄĚ
He also is very talented, and a key ingredient in his work is how he interacts with the crowd.
‚ÄúI tried to back off a lot of the traditional stuff,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúA lot of my stuff is audience participation.‚ÄĚ
That aspect of his performance allows Hodges to showcase a natural talent of being funny in a moment‚Äôs notice. Through observances and being keenly aware of what‚Äôs going on during each performance, he not only celebrates rodeo, he helps engage fans into the game with his humor.
It‚Äôs a trait he‚Äôs held tightly since a youngster. In addition to sharing his life with the crowd while in the arena, he also realizes he can provide a special gift with individualized attention.
‚ÄúWhat would it have been like if you were a kid and one of the great sports heroes came up and talked to you at the game?‚ÄĚ he asked. ‚ÄúI try to do that. I want at least one person to come up and say, ‚ÄėHey, that guy came up and talked to me.‚Äô
‚ÄúWhen I‚Äôm in the arena, I am larger than life. I‚Äôm the attention. I love to take that and give that back to someone. When I was a kid in about the fourth or fifth grade, I was bullied pretty bad. I try to pick out a kid and sit with them. I always think that it would‚Äôve been great if that had happened to me when I was a kid, so I want to give that to someone.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs a fascinating part about how Hodges goes about his business. He understands his role as part of the rodeo production, and he wants to add to it. He wants fans to be part of the rodeo experience and to go home after each of the three performances in Duncan knowing they enjoyed the show.
Rodeo is a unique mix of family-friendly entertainment and world-class competition. Hodges has lived both sides of it, and he sees each show through the audience‚Äôs eyes. He also knows how special it is to work the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo.
‚ÄúThat is the Prairie Circuit, and those are real cowboys out there,‚ÄĚ he said, recognizing the fact that a number of qualifiers for the finale also are NFR regulars. ‚ÄúYou get to work with the best, and that‚Äôs always great.‚ÄĚ
HEMPSTEAD, Texas ‚Äď Timber Moore likes competing in The Eliminator at the Waller County Fair and Rodeo.
On Tuesday night, the four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Aubrey, Texas, put the wraps on his second straight title in the unique competition that featured eight NFR qualifiers owning 13 world championships.
‚ÄúThere are a lot of guys that rope great that were here,‚ÄĚ said Moore, who earned $5,000 for the victory. ‚ÄúI swapped horses and was riding my good horse in the second half, and he was making stuff happen. I drew good, and luckily it all worked out in my favor.‚ÄĚ
The event featured three world champs: Fred Whitfield, who has seven gold buckles, Cody Ohl (6) and Shane Hanchey (1). Hanchey and Moore return to the NFR this December, as do the other four cowboys in the mix: Marty Yates, Caleb Smidt, Hunter Herrin and Cory Solomon.
All eight competed in the first round, with the bottom two times being eliminated. Over the remaining rounds, the slowest individual times were dropped, which is the key to The Eliminator‚Äôs format. It was a great precursor for the fair‚Äôs rodeo, which is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday in the same arena at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead.
As the competition unfolded, it became a race in the final round between Moore and Ohl, who owns a record 52 NFR wins on his impressive resume. Ohl roped first and put together a blazing time of 7.4 seconds.
‚ÄúKnowing how fast you‚Äôve got to be sure makes it a lot easier,‚ÄĚ said Moore, who followed with a 6.9-second run, the fastest time in the two years of the competition. ‚ÄúKnowing I had to go fast, I just had to take some chances.‚ÄĚ
With ProRodeo‚Äôs grand championship still two months away, The Eliminator allowed the cowboys the opportunity to make pressure-packed runs. Now they‚Äôll spend the remaining weeks fine-tuning their talents to compete for the biggest purse in the sport.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a fast start, and you have to tie them fast,‚ÄĚ Moore said of The Eliminator. ‚ÄúIt kind of prepares me, but we‚Äôre still so far off that I‚Äôve still got more preparing to do before I get there.‚ÄĚ
HEMPSTEAD, Texas ‚Äď Matt Shiozawa is heading to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the eighth time in his career, but an injury over the weekend will sideline the Chubbock, Idaho, cowboy for Tuesday‚Äôs Eliminator at the Waller County Fair and Rodeo in Hempstead.
Shiozawa suffered an ankle injury on the final weekend of the 2015 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association regular season. Since his priority is to be ready for the NFR in December, he is unable to compete in Waller County.
The Eliminator is to feature eight of the top tie-down ropers in the game all competing in knockout rounds in Hempstead. All eight will compete in the opening round, with the bottom two times eliminated from the competition. Every subsequent round will feature the slowest single time eliminated.
Shiozawa‚Äôs replacement will be Cody Ohl, a seven-time world champion from Hico, Texas, who has 20 NFR qualifications under his belt. He will be joined by eight-time champ Fred Whitfield of Hockley, Texas.
They will be matched against six other cowboys that are heading to the 2015 NFR, including 2013 world champion Shane Hanchey of Sulphur, La.; Cory Solomon of Prairie View, Texas; Hunter Herrin of Apache, Okla.; Marty Yates of Stephenville, Texas; Caleb Smidt of Bellville, Texas; and defending champion Timber Moore of Aubrey, Texas.
The action begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ‚Äď Every year keeps getting better for bareback rider Casey Breuer.
Now in his third year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the 23-year-old cowboy finished his 2015 season among the top 25 in the world standings. More importantly, he closed out his campaign on a high note by winning the American Royal PRCA Rodeo.
‚ÄúThis year was a lot of ups and downs,‚ÄĚ said Breuer, of Mandan, N.D. ‚ÄúIt started out really slow, then it picked up. From June through August, I went on a pretty good stretch where I was pulling checks and rodeo was fun. The last three or four weeks, it‚Äôs been tough.‚ÄĚ
It got much better Saturday night. Riding Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Cross Fire during the final performance of this year‚Äôs championship, Breuer and the strong sorrel danced across the Hale Arena dirt for 85 points. For that, he pocketed $1,839.
‚ÄúIt feels good to finish with a win for the year to build some momentum for next year,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWith this sport, you have to be consistent all year if you want to be on top. You don‚Äôt want to waste any opportunities.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs important, especially for a man who is about to add to his family in a little more than a month. On Oct. 30, Breuer will marry his high-school sweetheart, Brooke, in Mandan. Once the nuptials are complete, he‚Äôll go back to work making a living on the rodeo trail.
Still young in the game, he is taking the lessons learned while traveling with three friends, all of whom can now lay claim to being qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport‚Äôs year-end championship that features only the top 15 contestants in each event: brother Ty Breuer, who went to Vegas in 2013; Joe Gunderson, who qualified in 2010; and Tanner Aus, a 2015 finalist.
‚ÄúTy and Tanner started traveling together when they started,‚ÄĚ Casey Breuer said. ‚ÄúI was lucky enough to jump in with them and Joe.
‚ÄúJoe got hurt earlier this year, and Tanner ended up making it. Me and Ty got close, but close doesn‚Äôt count much in this sport.‚ÄĚ
No, it doesn‚Äôt, but finishing among the sport‚Äôs elite allows Breuer a fresh start on the 2016 season. With a new bride that‚Äôs part of his life, there‚Äôs little wonder why he‚Äôs so excited for new beginnings.
American Royal Rodeo
Kansas City, Mo.
Bareback riding: 1. Casey Breuer, 85 points on Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Cross Fire, $1,839; 2. (tie) Kyle Brennecke and Devan Reilly, 81, $1,226 each; 4. George Gillespie, 80, $674; 4. Clint Cannon, 79, $429; 6. (tie) Ethan Assman and Will Lowe, 78, $276 each; 7. (tie) Luke Creasy and Mason Clements, 76, $92 each.
Steer wrestling leaders: 1. Clayton Hass, 3.2 seconds, $2,400; 2. (tie) Ryan Bothum, and J.D. Struxness, 4.0, $1,930 each; 4. Casey Martin, 4.1, $1,461; 5. Ryan Swayze, 4.2, $1,147; 6. Dakota Eldridge, 4.3, $835; 7. (tie) Jule Hazen, Josh Clark and Jacob Edler, 4.5, $243 each.
Team roping leaders: 1. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 3.6 seconds, $2,992; 2. Luke Brown/Kollin VohAnh, 4.1, $2,677; 3. (tie) Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, Miles Baker/Dustin Serarcy and Joe Bach/Jim Ross Cooper, 4.2, $2 ,047 each; 6. Nick Sartain/Rich Skelton, 4.5, $1,417; 7. (tie) Jeremy Hemmann/Jeff Brown, and Ryan Von Ahn/J.W. Beck, 4.6, $,945 each; 9. (tie) Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, Clay Smith/Paul Eaves and Jake Barnes/Junior Nogueira, 5.1, $157 each.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Chad Ferley, 85 points on Dakota Rodeo‚Äôs Groovy, $2,109; 2. Bradley Harter, 84, $1,617; 3. David Martin, 83, $1,195; 4. (tie) Taos Muncy and Hardy Braden, 82, $633; 4. Dalton Davis, 81, $352; 7. (tie) Chuck Schmidt and Jesse James Kirby, 79, $246.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Timber Moore, 7.9 seconds, $2,140; 2. Caleb Smidt, 8.0, $$1,861; 3. Dillon Holder, 8.3, $1,582; 4. Ryan Jarrett, 8.4, $1,303; 5. Tuf Cooper, 8.5, $1,023; 6. (tie) Monty Lewis and Clay Brown, 9.0, $605; 8. Cody Quaney, 92, $186.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Kimmie Wall, 14.30 seconds, $2,107; 2. Vickie Carter, 14.34, $1,791; 3. Deb Guelly, 14.48, $1,475; 4. Carmel Wright, 14.53, $1,264; 5. Jeanne Anderson, 14.55, $1,054; 6. Layna Kight, 14.56, $738; 7. Laura Kennedy, 14.63, $567; 8. Calyssa Thomas, 14.66, $422; 9. Marne Loosenort, 14.67, $290; 10. (tie) Trula Churchill and Sherry Cervi, 14.68, $290 each; 12. Ashley Bauer, 14.69, $211.
Bull riding: 1. Corey Atwell, 88 points on Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Big Money, $2,096; 2. Dallee Mason, 85, $1,607; 3. Trevor Reiste, 81, $1,188; 4. John Young, 79, $768; 5. Kody DeShon, 76, $489; no other qualified rides.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ‚Äď Saturday afternoon‚Äôs performance of the American Royal PRCA Rodeo was Chad Ferley‚Äôs last shot at making the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
‚ÄúI had to come here and do good to have a legit shot to stay in the top 15,‚ÄĚ said Ferley, a two-time world champion from Oelrichs, S.D.
The pressure didn‚Äôt seem to bother the veteran saddle bronc rider. He matched moves with Dakota Rodeo‚Äôs Groovy for 85 points to take the lead at the American Royal. He is virtually guaranteed a solid payday in Kansas City, but he will have to wait out Saturday‚Äôs evening performance to know for sure where he will finish the rodeo.
‚ÄúIt worked out, and it‚Äôll be up to the other guys this weekend; this is my last rodeo this year,‚ÄĚ he said.
Ferley entered the week No. 15 in the world standings with $58,490. Only the top 15 in the world standings advance to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the year-end championship that takes place in December in Las Vegas.
Heading into Saturday night‚Äôs final performance, though, Ferley had already dropped to 16th, when Tyrel Larsen of Ingles, Manatoba, earned enough money in Omaha, Neb., on Thursday to move past Ferley by $700.
The saddle bronc riding champion at the American Royal can win up to $2,300, depending on the final breakdown on the purse. While Ferley is done for the 2015 regular season, Larsen is scheduled to compete in Omaha (for the second time this week) on Saturday night and in Apache, Okla., on Sunday. There still are others in the mix to make a move, including 2012 world champion Jesse Wright of Milford, Utah.
With the biggest pay in the game in Las Vegas in a couple of months, it‚Äôs important to full-time cowboys to earn a spot in the top 15. What would that mean to Ferley?
‚ÄúIt kind of sucks to finish right there out of it,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúHonestly it would be my own fault. I didn‚Äôt go to very many rodeos this year. I rodeoed pretty easy and just had fun.‚ÄĚ
There were a lot of reasons for the 35-year-old cowboy to stay back in South Dakota much of this year. He and his wife, Jessica, have two daughters, ages 4 and 10 months.
‚ÄúI rodeoed a little harder this fall because I was in a position where I needed to,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI stayed home more and spent a little more time with my family.‚ÄĚ
Ferley and his wife have been married since 2007 but waited to have children because of the life he lives on the rodeo trail.
‚ÄúI went out and rodeoed hard for quite a few years and waited to have kids,‚ÄĚ Ferley said. ‚ÄúI wanted to try to be home more when I had kids. Now I‚Äôm slowing down just a little bit because of that.‚ÄĚ
Still, riding broncs as one of the best cowboys in the game is how he puts food on the table and how he pays his electricity bill. He needs to be on the road to make sure those things are accomplished. There‚Äôs no place to do it better than at the NFR.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs the kicker in the deal,‚ÄĚ he said, noting that the payout in Vegas is at an all-time high starting this December. ‚ÄúIt pays so much better now, not that it didn‚Äôt pay great before. It‚Äôs twice as good now. You can make up that money pretty fast in one round.
‚ÄúYou can go in 15th in the world standings and have a really good shot at winning the world title now. You can win almost twice as much money at the finals as you can rodeoing all year.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs why he‚Äôs in a solid position to return to Vegas for the ninth time in his championship career. That‚Äôs why he made his trip to Kansas City on Saturday count.
American Royal Rodeo
Kansas City, Mo.
Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Kyle Brennecke, on Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Miss Garrett, and Devan Reilly, on Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Lizzard Medicine, 81 points; 3. George Gillespie, 80; 4. Clint Cannon, 79; 5. (tie) Ethan Assman and Will Lowe, 78; 7. (tie) Luke Creasy and Mason Clements, 76.
Steer wrestling leaders: 1. Clayton Hass, 3.2 seconds; 2. (tie) Ryan Bothum, and J.D. Struxness, 4.0 each; 4. Casey Martin, 4.1; 5. Ryan Swayze, 4.2; 6. Dakota Eldridge, 4.3; 7. (tie) Jule Hazen, Josh Clark and Jacob Edler, 4.5.
Team roping leaders: 1. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 3.6 seconds; 2. Luke Brown/Kollin VohAnh, 4.1; 3. Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, 4.2; 4. Nick Sartain/Rich Skelton, 4.5; 5. (tie) Jeremy Hemmann/Jeff Brown, and Ryan Von Ahn/J.W. Beck, 4.6 each; 7. (tie) Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, Clay Smith/Paul Eaves and Jake Barnes/Junior Nogueira, 5.1.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Chad Ferley, 85 points on Dakota Rodeo‚Äôs Groovy; 2. Bradley Harter, 84; 3. Taos Muncy, 82; 4. Dalton Davis, 81; 5. Chuck Schmidt, 79; 6. Doug Aldridge, 78; 7. Tyrel Larsen, 75; 8. Evan Hecht, 73.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Timber Moore, 7.9 seconds; 2. Caleb Smidt, 8.0; 3. Dillon Holder, 8.3; 4. Ryan Jarrett, 8.4; 5. Tuf Cooper, 8.5; 6. Monty Lewis, 9.0; 7. Kadin Boardman, 9.3; 8. Cade Swor, 9.6.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Kimmie Wall, 14.30 seconds; 2. Vickie Carter, 14.34; 3. Deb Guelly, 14.48; 4. Carmel Wright, 14.53; 5. Jeanne Anderson, 14.55; 6. Layna Kight, 14.56; 7. Laura Kennedy, 14.63; 8. Calyssa Thomas, 14.66; 9. Marne Loosenort, 14.67; 10. (tie) Trula Churchill and Sherry Cervi, 14.68.
Bull riding: 1. Corey Atwell, 88 points on Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Big Money; 2. Dallee Mason, 85; 3. Trevor Reiste, 81; 4. John Young, 79; 5. Kody DeShon, 76; no other qualified rides.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ‚Äď Timber Moore didn‚Äôt have much to stress about when he arrived at the American Royal PRCA Rodeo on Friday night.
He‚Äôs won more than $105,000 during the 2015 ProRodeo season and sits second in the world standings. He‚Äôs assured himself of a fourth trip to Las Vegas for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo as the No. 2 tie-down roper on the money list.
None of that stopped him from trying to win in Kansas City. The 29-year-old cowboy roped and tied his calf in 7.9 seconds to take the early lead at the American Royal with two more performances remaining ‚Äď at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Hale Arena inside the American Royal complex.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve already placed in Omaha, and now I‚Äôm winning Kansas City; it feels great to finish the year strong,‚ÄĚ said Moore of Aubrey, Texas. ‚ÄúHopefully things will keep going this way and try to win the world this year. Maybe we‚Äôll keep picking away at them during the finals if things go my way.‚ÄĚ
The NFR is rodeo‚Äôs super bowl and features just the top 15 contestants in each event in the year-end championship. This year‚Äôs finale features an unprecedented purse, with go-round winners earning more than $26,000 each for 10 straight nights.
Making the NFR is imperative for rodeo‚Äôs stars that make their living in the game they love. Yes, he made a good living this year, but traveling expenses covered a big portion of that money. There are no guarantees in rodeo; cowboys and cowgirls not only cover their own expenses, but they also must pay fees in order to compete.
‚ÄúMy year‚Äôs been great, but I owe it all to Colonel,‚ÄĚ Moore said of his horse, an 11-year-old sorrel gelding. ‚ÄúHe got a little sore during the summer, but he‚Äôs been great all year. Without him, it wouldn‚Äôt be possible.‚ÄĚ
Moore competed Thursday in Omaha during the River City Rodeo, then made the short commute to the West Bottoms on Friday. He returns to Omaha on Saturday for another PRCA event, ending his season after traveling to 71 rodeos all across the country. Having a solid mount is key to any cowboy‚Äôs success.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs got a good mindset,‚ÄĚ he said of Colonel. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a little smaller, more compact. He‚Äôs real quick footed and wants to stop fast and be quick. He makes things happen. Anymore the calf roping is so tough you‚Äôve got to cut time off where you can, and he allows you to do it.‚ÄĚ
American Royal Rodeo
Kansas City, Mo.
Bareback riding: 1. (tie) Kyle Brennecke, on Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Miss Garrett, and Devan Reilly, on Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Lizzard Medicine, 81 points; 3. George Gillespie, 80; 4. Ethan Assman, 78; 5. (tie) Luke Creasy and Mason Clements, 76; 7. Tim O‚ÄôConnell, 75.
Steer wrestling leaders: 1. Clayton Hass, 3.2 seconds; 2. (tie) Ryan Bothum, and J.D. Struxness, 4.0 each; 4. Casey Martin, 4.1; 5. Ryan Swayze, 4.2; 6. Dakota Eldridge, 4.3; 7. (tie) Jule Hazen, Josh Clark and Jacob Edler, 4.5.
Team roping leaders: 1. Riley Minor/Brady Minor, 3.6 seconds; 2. (tie) Jeremy Hemmann/Jeff Brown, and Ryan Von Ahn/J.W. Beck, 4.6 each; 4. (tie) Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, and Matt Sherwood/Quinn Kesler, 5.1 each; 6. Cale Markham/Billie Jack Saebens, 5.5; 7. Ty Bach/Allen Bach, 5.7; 8. Jesse Stipes/Tyler Worley, 6.2.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Dalton Davis, 81 points on Salt Creek Rodeo‚Äôs Campfire; 2. Chuck Schmidt, 79; 3. Tyrel Larsen, 75; no other qualified rides.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Timber Moore, 7.9 seconds; 2. Caleb Smidt, 8.0; 3. Dillon Holder, 8.3; 4. Ryan Jarrett, 8.4; 5. Tuf Cooper, 8.5; 6. Monty Lewis, 9.0; 7. Kadin Boardman, 9.3; 8. Cade Swor, 9.6.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Vickie Carter, 14.34 seconds; 2. Deb Guelly, 14.48; 3. Jeanne Anderson, 14.55; 4. Layna Kight, 14.56; 5. Laura Kennedy, 14.63; 6. Calyssa Thomas, 14.66; 7. Marne Loosenort, 14.67; 8. (tie) Trula Churchill and Sherry Cervi, 14.68; 10. Ashley Baur. 14.69.
Bull riding: 1. Corey Atwell, 88 points on Frontier Rodeo‚Äôs Big Money; 2. Dallee Mason, 85; 3. Trevor Reiste, 81; 4. John Young, 79; 5. Kody DeShon, 76; no other qualified rides.
DUNCAN, Okla. ‚Äď For 24-year-old Brodie Poppino, there are a lot of goals he has set for his ProRodeo career.
In his two seasons in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, he has accomplished some of them. In 2013, he was the steer roping rookie of the year and qualified for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. In 2014, he returned to the circuit finals and also qualified for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping.
This year, he‚Äôs closing in on another major goal: Winning the Prairie Circuit title.
‚ÄúTo me, the Prairie Circuit is really important, especially in steer roping without a whole bunch of rodeos out there for us,‚ÄĚ said Poppino of Big Cabin, Okla. ‚ÄúOklahoma and Kansas are some of the bigger areas in the steer roping industry. To me, it‚Äôs more of a prestigious deal to be able to go to those events, and the chance to compete for the circuit title is big.‚ÄĚ
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. It will feature just the top 12 contestants in each event who have qualified through the regular season on the Prairie Circuit, made up primarily of events in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Steer roping, which will feature the top 15 cowboys, is set for 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16.
Poppino is No. 1 in the standings with $13,449 and owns a $2,000 lead over the No. 2 man, Mike Chase of McAlester, Okla. The No. 3 man is Rocky Patterson, a three-time world champion from Pratt, Kan. They are among three circuit finalists who also have competed at the NFSR, joining J.P. Wickett of Sallisaw, Okla.; Ralph Williams of Skiatook, Okla.; Chet Herren, Brady Garten and Rod Hartness of Pawhuska, Okla.; and Brady Garten of Claremore, Okla.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs good money up in Duncan, plus if you with them or get the chance to go to Torrington (Wyo.),‚ÄĚ Poppino said of the site for the Ram National Circuit Finals Steer Roping. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs a big deal in the steer roping world. Plus, the majority of the Prairie Circuit guys are NFSR qualifiers ever year. That makes our circuit finals as prestigious as any event we can go to.‚ÄĚ
That sentiment is echoed by all the contestants who will make their way to Duncan in mid-October. Poppino is among nine contestants who will all enter the finale in the standings lead, joined by bareback rider Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas; steer wrestler Stockton Graves of Alva, Okla.; header Coleman Proctor of Pryor, Okla.; heeler Jake Long of Coffeyville, Kan.; saddle bronc rider Steven Dent of Mullen, Neb.; tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla.; barrel racer Kim Couch of Rattan, Okla.; and bull rider Sage Kimzey of Strong City, Okla.
‚ÄúThis year I‚Äôve got a chance to win the circuit,‚ÄĚ Poppino said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve got two goals in that regard, to win the average in the circuit finals and to win the year-end title. That‚Äôs an achievement everybody wants to do, and I‚Äôm just blessed to be in that position.‚ÄĚ
He is a second-generation circuit finals qualifier. Both his mother, barrel racer Tana, and his father, steer roper Marty, have been to the finale. Tana Poppino also is a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier.
‚ÄúMy dad has always stayed home and worked and just went to a handful of rodeos a year to try to make it to the circuit finals,‚ÄĚ Brodie Poppino said. ‚ÄúHe stays home and supports mom and me. He‚Äôs the backbone to everything we do.
‚ÄúHe does a lot of the tuning on the horses. I‚Äôm the roper; he‚Äôs the trainer. Mom‚Äôs attitude and optimism is just unreal. She can pick me up and make me feel unbeatable.‚ÄĚ
That type of support is a major contributor to Poppino‚Äôs success. He loves the idea of carrying on a family tradition in Duncan.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs really cool to go to a deal like that,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe people in Duncan appreciate us and show us that. They want us to be there. The people are super good to the cowboys.‚ÄĚ
It all adds to the championship atmosphere that people in southern Oklahoma have come to expect.
ALVA, Okla. ‚Äď Northwest Kansas always will be home to Laine Herl.
The Northwestern Oklahoma State University cowboy found a homecoming quite to his liking this past weekend, winning the steer wrestling title and helping guide the Rangers men to the team title at the Colby (Kan.) Community College rodeo.
The Northwestern men scored 550 points to beat reigning Central Plains Region champion Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Herl contributed 150 to that total by placing in both go-rounds, winning the championship round and the average title. In all, he grappled two steers to the ground in 9.8 seconds, finishing nine-tenths of a second ahead of teammate Jacob Edler.
‚ÄúIt means a lot to win that rodeo,‚ÄĚ Herl said. ‚ÄúMy family was able to be there, and just to start off the season on a good note was big. It‚Äôs great to start off the season with a win and hopefully keep plugging along to win the region and make the college finals.‚ÄĚ
Herl was one of three Rangers to win Colby titles, joined by tie-down roper Bryson Seachrist and barrel racer Sara Bynum. Seachrist won both rounds and the average title; he downed his first calf in 8.7 seconds, then followed that with an 8.6-second run in the short round.
Bynum, who paced the way for the women‚Äôs team that finished second overall in Colby, won the first round with a 16.58-second run. She followed that with a 17.26 to place in the short round and clinch the title.
They were just a few of many Rangers that placed in Colby: Goat-tiers Leremi Allred and Tearnee Nelson; header Hunter Munsell and his partner, Sawyer Barham as well as heeler Wade Perry; steer wrestlers Joby Allen and Brock White; bull riders Marcell Jacob and Weston Wilson; and bareback rider Austin Graham.
‚ÄúI think we‚Äôre just smarter about how we go about stuff,‚ÄĚ Herl said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve added some good guys this year, and that makes it a lot better.‚ÄĚ
Another valuable asset is how the team prepares. All attribute much of their success to coach Stockton Graves, a Northwestern alumnus who is a seven-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs been there at the highest level, so he knows what it takes to win,‚Äô Herl said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre having some up-tempo practices. We‚Äôre running more steers on the ground and focusing on the little stuff so when it comes down to it, you‚Äôre making the same run time and time out. We‚Äôre working on the basics.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre starting up the matches. With that, we‚Äôre learning what to do in certain situations, so come short-go time at a college rodeo, you‚Äôre not panicking. You know you‚Äôve been in the same place in a match before, so it helps a lot.‚ÄĚ
It paid off this last weekend in northwest Kansas.
American Royal a big stop for top contestants on final weekend of regular season
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ‚Äď The scramble is on.
The last week of the 2015 ProRodeo regular season has begun, and contestants are scripting their plans for the mad rush that comes with trying to finish the campaign among the top 15 in the world standings in order to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the year-end championship that takes place in December in Las Vegas.
It‚Äôs a mixture of ‚ÄúLast Man Standing‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúPlanes, Trains & Automobiles‚ÄĚ as those cowboys and cowgirls battle for all the money they can muster. In rodeo, dollars not only pay bills but also stand as championship points; the contestants in each event who earn the most money will be crowned world champions.
There are more than 20 sites designated for this week, with the American Royal PRCA Rodeo being the most prestigious. Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26.
‚ÄúThis is almost like a wildcard game in the NFL or Major League Baseball,‚ÄĚ said Andy Stewart, the event‚Äôs announcer. ‚ÄúThese guys might have one shot left to make it to the NFR. It‚Äôs so important, because I have seen guys that go to rodeos like Kansas City that have that much money in the purse and being at the end of the season that they can win enough money and get to the NFR.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs the difference between ending your season and having a shot at winning the NFR average title or winning the world title.‚ÄĚ
Bareback rider Luke Creasy is one of those cowboys scrambling over the final few days of the regular season. Last week, he was at a rodeo every day, crisscrossing several states in the process: Iowa to Texas to New Mexico to Oregon. Flights and all-night drives are just part of the game, especially when he needs to earn thousands of dollars in order to move up from 20th into the top 15 on the money list.
‚ÄúIn Pasadena (Texas), I made a little money there on a little horse that didn‚Äôt have a day, but getting a check in the bank always helps boost the mind a little,‚ÄĚ said Creasy, a native Canadian now living in Lovington, N.M. ‚ÄúAll the other rodeos that I‚Äôm going to, I‚Äôm hoping to cash in.
Creasy has been near the top of the standings most of the season. In fact, he was among the top 10 when he suffered a broken fifth metacarpal bone in his right (riding) hand over the summer and had surgery to repair the ailment. Once he was released by doctors to ride again, he‚Äôs been going ever since. As of last Friday, he needed to make about $25,000 in the final 10 days of the season if he had any hope of qualifying for the NFR for the first time.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of money out there,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs all vital. It‚Äôs going to be a held-breath kind of week. I‚Äôm hoping and trying my best to make it. All roads have led me here.‚ÄĚ
ProRodeo features thousands of contestants, with hundreds battling for the coveted world championships. Only the best 120 in the game get the chance to compete at the NFR, which features the largest purse in the sport over 10 nights in Las Vegas. There are dozens of contestants on the bubble who need big checks at all the rodeos taking place on the final weekend.
‚ÄúI was in the top five a lot of the year, then things happened,‚ÄĚ said Creasy, who has finished among the top 25 three times in the past five years; he finished the 2014 campaign 17th in the standings, just two spots out of qualifying. ‚ÄúNow I‚Äôm in a very familiar spot. I just need to do the best I can and have a little luck come my way.‚ÄĚ
That makes Kansas City an important stop for rodeo‚Äôs elite.
HEMPSTEAD, Texas ‚Äď The rodeo committee that organizes the annual event during the Waller County Fair and Rodeo keeps its focus simple: Continue to improve.
That mindset works for everyone involved, from those who work behind the scenes to the cowboys that are in the middle of the competition to the fans who want to see a good show. It all comes together from Thursday, Oct. 1-Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead.
‚ÄúWe have increased our purse every year,‚ÄĚ said Paul Shollar, co-chairman of the Waller County Fair Board‚Äôs rodeo committee. ‚ÄúWe do that because this is rodeo country, and we know the people who come to our fair and rodeo want to see the greatest cowboys in the world in Hempstead.‚ÄĚ
The quality of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo is virtually unmatched in this region of Texas. In fact, it‚Äôs downright comparable to any of the large rodeos that are across North America.
‚ÄúFrom our stock contractor to hospitality, we really want every cowboy and cowgirl who comes to our fair and rodeo to see this rodeo as one of the best in the country,‚ÄĚ said Chad Kersh, a member of the rodeo committee.
To that end, the rodeo committee has enlisted the help of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the largest stock contracting firm in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Each of the past two seasons, no other contractor has had more animals selected to perform at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He‚Äôs been the stock contractor in Hempstead since the rodeo transitioned to the PRCA a few years ago.
‚ÄúWhat we love about Pete Carr is that he has the kind of stock that attracts world champions and regular NFR qualifiers,‚ÄĚ said Clint Sciba, the fair board‚Äôs president and co-chairman of the rodeo committee. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a reason that Pete has been nominated for stock contractor of the year for the third year. He should‚Äôve won it already. He‚Äôs been the best stock contractor in rodeo for a long time.‚ÄĚ
Just look at the reigning champion in Hempstead as proof to the elite contestants that come to town every fall. Most of the 2014 winners have been to the NFR, including bareback rider Clint Cannon of Waller, Texas, who won his hometown rodeo for the first time in his career after scoring 87 points on Carr‚Äôs Night Bells.
Steer wrestler Darrell Petry, tie-down roper Matt Shiozawa and heeler Kinney Harrell have all played on the biggest stages of the game. But so have the animal athletes that guided the champions to victory in the roughstock events. Night Bells has been to the NFR six times, while Line Man has been recognized as one of the top bulls; he guided Casey Huckabee to the bull riding title with a 90-point ride.
Jacobs Crawley won the saddle bronc riding championship on Carr‚Äôs Icycle, a horse that is showing great promise.
‚ÄúWe want our fans to know that year in and year out, we‚Äôre going to work hard to put on a great rodeo,‚ÄĚ Shollar said. ‚ÄúThey deserve it.‚ÄĚ
STEPHENVILLE, Texas ‚Äď The people who organize Stephenville‚Äôs ProRodeo have a common theme they adhere to every year.
‚ÄúWe take pride in our town being the Cowboy Capital of the World,‚ÄĚ said Chad Decker, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo. ‚ÄúIf you wear that crown, you have to produce. I have a very good group of people on the committee that are more than willing to go the extra mile to be as successful as we can be.‚ÄĚ
They will show it off during this year‚Äôs event, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, at Lone Star Arena. It‚Äôs a fabulous way to close out the 2015 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association regular season.
‚ÄúWe have the largest population of rodeo cowboys per square foot in the world,‚ÄĚ Decker said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôve been on the road battling it out, and for them to come home from being on the road all year, they get to close out their year right in their own backyard.
‚ÄúI think it‚Äôs something they enjoy, especially now that we‚Äôve got our money up. I look at it as a homecoming for these guys.‚ÄĚ
As one of the final events of the season, the Stephenville rodeo will be a major stop for many top cowboys and cowgirls, even those that don‚Äôt live in Erath County. It will feature the largest purse of any rodeo that weekend that is open to all contestants. That‚Äôs just one of many major attractions for the top players in the game.
‚ÄúWe have the best stock contractor in rodeo with Pete Carr,‚ÄĚ Decker said of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a Dallas-based livestock firm that has been nominated as PRCA stock contractor of the year each of the past two seasons. ‚ÄúHe has tremendous livestock, and it‚Äôs something all these guys want to compete on. That‚Äôs important.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs also a crowd-pleaser for fans. They realize that a number of contestants will need to collect nice paydays in Stephenville if they want to advance to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the season-ending championship that features only the top 15 contestants in each event.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs what makes my Sunday afternoon crowd so big,‚ÄĚ Decker said. ‚ÄúWith Stephenville being a rodeo town, we cater to most of our spectators, who are rodeo people. They understand what‚Äôs on the line. It makes it more interesting for the crowd, because they know what‚Äôs at stake for the guys.‚ÄĚ
The crowd also wants to be entertained, which is a big part of all three performances inside Lone Star Arena. This year‚Äôs event will feature Boyd Polhamus, a three-time PRCA announcer of the year who has worked the NFR 18 times, and Troy ‚ÄúThe Wild Child‚ÄĚ Lerwill, who has been named the PRCA specialty act of the year six times.
The committee also will feature a special dedication each performance, starting with American Hero Night on Friday. The family of Chris Kyle is heavily involved in the planning, and one local recipient will be honored during the performance.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to take $2 off every ticket sold at the gate and donate it to this person, and the rodeo will be matching every dollar,‚ÄĚ Decker said. ‚ÄúThe business of Stephenville will be chipping in what they can for gift cards to this recipient to make their life easier. It‚Äôs giving back. We‚Äôre going to take care of them.‚ÄĚ
He has dubbed Saturday‚Äôs performance as ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to get Western Night,‚ÄĚ with the focus on Carr‚Äôs production and animal athletes. The evening will close with a concert from West Texas-based artist Jake Hooker.
In addition to the final performance closing out ProRodeo‚Äôs regular season on Sunday, the rodeo committee will be showcasing its primary mission, raising funds for its scholarship foundation.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre in a unique area where Stephenville and Erath County are split between two regions in the Texas High School Rodeo Association,‚ÄĚ Decker said. ‚ÄúRight before each of the PRCA events, we‚Äôre going to have a match between every winner of those events battling for a $1,000 scholarship in every event.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre doing something that‚Äôs never been done before. Hopefully we‚Äôre setting the groundwork to be trailblazers for others to follow.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs just what fans would expect in the Cowboy Capital of the World.
SOUTHAVEN, Miss. ‚Äď After years apart, the Mid-South Fair and the Rodeo of the Mid-South are together again.
That‚Äôs a major plus for fair-goers and rodeo fans, which can enjoy all the family fun that comes with the overall experience.
‚ÄúOne of the things that makes our rodeo special is the fact that this year its back with the fair,‚ÄĚ said Lecile Harris, organizer of the annual rodeo, set for set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26, at the Landers Center in Southaven. ‚ÄúI moved the dates of the rodeo from April back to September so it could be with the fair.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs indoors at one of the most up-to-date venues. It‚Äôs a beautiful coliseum, and it‚Äôs got all the sound, electronics and light show to help make for great production of the rodeo.‚ÄĚ
It all adds to the mix of the rodeo, which will be produced by the crew of Pete Carr‚Äôs Classic Pro Rodeo, one of the top companies in professional rodeo. Each of the past two seasons, the Carr firm has been nominated as stock contractor of the year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Last year, Carr earned contractor of the year honors in the Women‚Äôs Professional Rodeo Association.
‚ÄúI have so much confidence in Pete Carr and his company that once they drive up and once the crew goes to work, I don‚Äôt have to worry about that part of the rodeo,‚ÄĚ said Harris, a longtime rodeo clown that has been named PRCA clown of the year four times; he also is enshrined in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt have to worry about the production of the rodeo once. I never have to worry about his crew, and I don‚Äôt have to worry about the stock. He‚Äôs got some of the best livestock in rodeo. I know when Pete and his crew get here, it‚Äôs going to be first class and everything‚Äôs going to be done right.‚ÄĚ
That is a winning formula for rodeo fans and the cowboys and cowgirls who make a living in the sport. The Mid-South Rodeo falls on the final weekend of the 2015 regular season, making Southaven an even bigger destination for contestants all vying to finish among the top 15 in each event to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
‚ÄúI think a lot of the cowboys that are on the bubble (for making the NFR) will show up in Southaven,‚ÄĚ Harris said.
A key ingredient will be the Carr animals. Each of the past two season, no other stock contractor in the PRCA has had more animals selected to the year-end championship, which takes place in December in Las Vegas.
That kind of animal athletes makes rodeos like Southaven an important stop along the rodeo trail.
‚ÄúPete‚Äôs got an eye for horses, and he‚Äôs surrounded himself with people who know what they‚Äôre talking about,‚ÄĚ said saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss, a six-time NFR from Heflin, La. ‚ÄúYou want to go to Pete‚Äôs rodeos, because you‚Äôre going to get on something.‚ÄĚ
When it‚Äôs mixed in with a strong production, a modern facility and great rodeo action, it‚Äôs the perfect home for fans.
HEMPSTEAD, Texas ‚Äď Neal McCoy has twice been named entertainer of the year, and his showmanship is one reason why he will be the featured entertainer at the Waller County Fair and Rodeo.
The exposition, set for Friday, Sept. 25-Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead, will include four top-flight concerts, with McCoy closing the fair on Oct. 3.
‚ÄúWe have worked to get the kinds of acts that everyone will enjoy when they come to our fair and rodeo,‚ÄĚ said Steven Pfeiffer, the Waller County Fair Board‚Äôs entertainment committee chairman. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm very excited about our concert lineup from start to finish.‚ÄĚ
All associated with the event should be excited. The series begins Texas-born artist Aaron Watson, who released his most recent album, ‚ÄúThe Underdog,‚ÄĚ earlier this year. Watson, who released the rodeo hit ‚ÄúJuly in Cheyenne‚ÄĚ in 2013, has been around the music industry for better than 15 years. He will perform Saturday, Sept. 26.
Jeff Woolsey, who grew up on the north side of Houston, was raised around traditional country music. He started his own band at age 19, and throughout the 1990s, he and his band were big hits on the dancehall circuit. The group was the 1994 band of the year in the Houston area. After a few years away from the trade, he returned to the music scene in less than a decade ago playing the music he loves. He takes the stage Thursday, Oct. 1.
Country legend John Conlee has been a top act for decades with memorable hits like ‚ÄúRose Colored Glasses,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúMiss Emily‚Äôs Picture,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúCommon Man,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúI‚Äôm Only in It for The Love‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúGot My Heart Set on You,‚ÄĚ just to name a few. He performs Friday, Oct. 2.
‚ÄúWe have a strong group of entertainers coming to town, from traditional country with Jeff Woolsey and John Conlee to Aaron Watson, who has been taking country music by storm,‚ÄĚ said Dustin Standley, the fair board‚Äôs sponsorship chairman. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs very exciting for us to have this kind of show for the people who come to our fair.‚ÄĚ
McCoy, who won his entertainer of the year awards in 1998-99, has released 34 singles to country radio. He had back-to-back No. 1 singles with ‚ÄúNo Doubt About It‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúWink‚ÄĚ in 1993. He had three platinum albums and several top-10 hits in the 1990s and 2000s.
In addition to the concerts of top artists, the newly remodeled Ole Wagon Wheel dance hall will feature dances throughout the week:
EDITOR‚ÄôS NOTE: Guest columnist Graeme Menzies is a director of marketing communications at the University of British Columbia and was the director of communications at the Vancouver (British Columbia) 2010 Winter Olympics. Born in Alberta, he now lives in Vancouver.
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association has announced that it is replacing its old logo with something new, but a lot of cowboys are saying, ‚ÄúWhoa!‚ÄĚ
Some of that reaction was probably anticipated. For those in the design business, resistance to new logos is almost a proverb, and examples are logos disasters are plentiful. Ad Age magazine cites the 2010 re-launch of The Gap‚Äôs iconic logo as one of the most colossal brand missteps in recent history. But there are plenty of other examples: the London 2012 Olympic Games logo (cost: $800,000) was widely lambasted; more recently, the University of California‚Äôs updated monogram was ridiculed as ‚Äúan aerial view of a flushing toilet.‚ÄĚ
What about the CPRA? Is its new rodeo logo a no-go?
The announcement boasted that the new logo‚Äôs stylized hat represented both genders and honored Western heritage. Fans of the old logo have been left wondering what that means. Was there a problem with the cowboy image ‚Äď was the cowboy too masculine? Surely there was no serious concern that the cowboy image failed to represent western heritage. What about the bold red Canadian maple leaf? Did someone think it was un-Canadian to be so blatantly patriotic?
Members of the CPRA, which has 1,400 members and sanctions more than 50 rodeos in Canada each year, were confused. Some were downright angry. Ted Stovin, a former bull rider and the main force behind the website EverythingCowboy.com, felt so strongly about the logo change he posted a lengthy blog about it, even including dozens of examples of how other sports organizations represent themselves through graphic design. Response to his article came fast and furious.
CPRA member Mac McKie wrote that the new logo communicates nothing about Canada and ‚Äúas far as rodeo, only resembles an abused hat after the rodeo dance.‚ÄĚ
Jake Vold, whose family has a proud multi-generational rodeo reputation, was a just as flustered by the move.
‚ÄúI can‚Äôt believe they took away the maple leaf,‚ÄĚ said Vold, a bareback rider that has qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Others complained that the new logo looks too much like the city of Calgary‚Äôs ‚ÄúHeart of the New West‚ÄĚ logo, doesn‚Äôt represent rodeo sports, is too bland, fails to leverage the history and brand equity of the old design, and ‚Äúwill look like hell on a belt buckle.‚ÄĚ Ouch!
Are these criticisms legitimate, or is this proverbial resistance that one comes to expect?
Yes and no, said Marty Yaskowich, vice president of strategy at DDB, a renowned communications and design agency in Vancouver, British Columbia.
‚ÄúBrand design is definitely one of the most challenging areas of marketing because there will always be differing opinions on what looks good,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúYou really have to separate the subjective from the strategic. The real question, when evaluating the logos, is what‚Äôs the strategy behind it?‚ÄĚ
Yaskowich, whose cousin is two-time PBR Canadian champion bull rider bull rider Aaron Roy and who has experience working with major international and iconic Canadian brands, said much of the criticism could be ameliorated if the strategy for the change was more transparent.
‚ÄúThere could have been a strategic decision to create a new public-facing logo that is more about promotion of dynamic, exciting, rodeo events while also creating a more accessible and friendly brand to attract a broader audience,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThere may be a strategic rationale for the change ‚Ä¶ there may be business reasons behind this, but they are not immediately clear.‚ÄĚ
I like the old logo. It has the unsophisticated charm that only a legitimately established organization can pull off; that kind of old-school authenticity is hard to come by these days. But you‚Äôd get no argument from me if, like the Toronto Maple Leaf‚Äôs logo, it was given a periodic design refresh.
Feedback from CPRA members may have had an effect.
‚ÄúThe old CPRA logo has not changed,‚ÄĚ said Dan Eddy, the CPRA‚Äôs general manager. He noted that the Pro Rodeo Canada logo is a brand of the CPRA.
While not categorically contradicting the original intent to replace the old one entirely, Eddy‚Äôs comment holds out some hope that the beloved old logo may not be on its way to the slaughterhouse after all.
Graeme Menzies is an international marketing and communications professional, who also is the author of The Rodeo Guide for City Slickers.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ‚Äď There is one good reason Cody Sosebee has been nominated five times as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Clown of the Year.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve always said that it doesn‚Äôt matter what you‚Äôre selling, if people don‚Äôt buy into you, they‚Äôre not going to buy what you‚Äôre selling,‚ÄĚ said Andy Stewart, a ProRodeo announcer who will be the voice of the American Royal PRCA Rodeo this year. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs where Cody is one of the best; he‚Äôs such a likeable guy. What you see in the arena is him all the time. He‚Äôs not afraid to make fun of himself.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs a key ingredient that Sosebee brings to the table at this year‚Äôs rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, at Hale Arena inside the American Royal complex.
‚ÄúMaybe someone in the crowd is feeling bad about themselves, maybe their job or their body or their marriage,‚ÄĚ Stewart said. ‚ÄúWhen Cody steps into the arena, he‚Äôs making fun of himself and cracking jokes about the problem he‚Äôs having. People tend to relax and think, ‚ÄėI feel comfortable with him; he‚Äôs just like us.‚Äô
‚ÄúThrough making fun of himself, we‚Äôre laughing at ourselves. That‚Äôs a very unique trait that he has that makes him a really special clown.‚ÄĚ
This isn‚Äôt the first time Sosebee has worked the American Royal. In fact, he‚Äôs been a regular at some of the biggest events in the country, including rodeos in Cheyenne, Wyo.; Dodge City, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; and the Calgary (Alberta) Stampede.
In addition to his clowning nomination, the former competitor also has been nominated for the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year two of the past three seasons. But there‚Äôs much more to Sosebee than meets the eye. Over his lifetime, he‚Äôs competed in nearly every rodeo event possible and was at the top of his game in bareback riding.
It‚Äôs part of the life growing up in a family that was heavily involved in rodeo. His father was a pickup man, so Sosebee has been part of the sport as long as he can remember.
‚ÄúI got into clowning by accident by filling in for guys,‚ÄĚ said Sosebee, who also owns a barbecue restaurant in his hometown of Charleston, Ark., just 25 miles east of Fort Smith, Ark. ‚ÄúI didn‚Äôt know where I was going to go with my rodeo career when I quit riding barebacks, and it turned into a good living. I get to see the world.
‚ÄúI live in a community with one four-way stop, and I get to go to a lot of other great places where as soon as you pull into town, you are considered a rock star for a week.‚ÄĚ
A born competitor, the clown has made the adjustments he needed to get the true fix after a lifetime of being part of the contest.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve always been a competitor in anything I did, from football to basketball to when I was in freestyle bullfighting,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI miss putting my hand in the riggin‚Äô and nodding my head to be 80 points to win the rodeo, but I‚Äôm a realist. I‚Äôm 43 years old. While most of the guys I rodeoed with have slowed down and have found jobs, I get to be in the arena and get to make a living in rodeo doing something I love.‚ÄĚ
Sosebee also plays to his strengths. Bigger than many in the game, he showcases a true athleticism that is rarely seen among men of his stature. It‚Äôs comedy at the purest level.
‚ÄúHaving the ability to laugh at myself is probably my biggest strength,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt take anything too serious. When I‚Äôm watching a comedian, the funniest thing I see is when they‚Äôre honestly open and having a good time. I want the fans to see that I‚Äôm a real person and I‚Äôm having fun, and they can have fun with me.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs why Sosebee has excelled as one of the premier rodeo clowns in the game. That‚Äôs why the volunteer committee is bringing him to town. It‚Äôs another key reason the American Royal is always at the top of the game.