Archive for August, 2011

postheadericon Now that’s an all-around hand

Jerome Schneeberger is one of the best in the game, an 11-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and its 2001 tie-down roping average champion.

Jerome Schneeberger

Jerome Schneeberger

Never once has he played on ProRodeo’s grandest stage in team roping, but he did so this past weekend during the Colorado State Fair & Rodeo. In fact, Schneeberger placed in the opening go-round and the average to earn $1,150 while roping with Justin Smith.

That, combined with $740 won in tie-down roping, earned the Ponca City, Okla., cowboy the all-around title in Pueblo. When was the time Schneeberger claimed an all-around crown at a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event?

“I don’t even remember,” he told me Wednesday night.

How did Jerome Calf Roper become Joe Header?

“A guy asked me if I’d fill in for his partner, who couldn’t make it,” Schneeberger said. “I asked him if it was a doctor release or a turnout, because I wasn’t going to pay entry fees. When he said it was a turnout, I agreed to it.”

Schneeberger knew he could borrow a friend’s heading horse, but the only ropes the Oklahoma cowboy had were for tie-down roping.

“I found a rope that somebody’d just thrown away, so I used that,” he said.

Was this God’s way of telling the 35-year-old tie-down roper it was time to start transitioning to team roping full time?

“He’d have hell doing that,” he said with a laugh.

Nonetheless, Schneeberger made the most of his guest appearance in Pueblo. If the right circumstances appear again, he might win another all-around buckle.

Just don’t ask him to pay his own entry fee.

postheadericon A champion’s attitude

No matter how many times I’ve experienced it, I’m still awestruck world champions’ demeanor.

Lewis Feild

Lewis Feild

Take five-time winner Lewis Feild. It’s been more than 20 years since the Utah cowboy has won gold, but he still carries a quiet confidence that is befitting a rodeo cowboy. Now known more as the father of one of ProRodeo’s elite bareback riders, Lewis Feild is quite proud of the accomplishments of his youngest child, Kaycee.

But Lewis is no more proud of Kaycee than he is Shad or Maclee, the older children he shares with his loving wife, Veronica.

After half an hour of visiting today, I was most impressed with Mr. Feild’s giving personality. There is confidence without the ego, something you find more often in rodeo than other professional sports. He offered insights as well as storylines during our conversation, and I appreciate that more than most.

postheadericon Home is where the family is

I recall several years ago when Charles Pogue decided his time was better spent at home with his family than on the rodeo trail.

I questioned how a 15-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo could do that, still one of the top headers in the business. Of course, I’d never packed up a rig for a two- to three-month run of rodeos away from home.

I’ve learned more about that over the years, though I don’t ever expect to travel as hard as the contestants do. During my two-week stretch from my wife and daughters, homesickness was my biggest foe in handling my duties. But when I developed this business, I knew there would be miles and significant time away from home and those I love most.

Fortunately, I’m blessed with three girls who are my biggest supporters. That helps take away some of the sting of missing them; more importantly, it helps me appreciate them when I am home.

postheadericon Mays wins Prescott for second straight year

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the August 2011 edition of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.

On paper, the Fourth of July run was awfully nice to Brenda Mays.

She earned $11,140, with a large portion coming with her victory at the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, Ariz., where she pocketed $4,515. But she also added nice paychecks in Molalla, Ore.; Eugene, Ore.; Livingston, Mont.; and Oakley, Utah.

Brenda Mays

Brenda Mays

“It was a very good Fourth for me,” said Mays, a four-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from Terrebonne, Ore.

Mays knows the importance of Cowboy Christmas. After that week of lucrative rodeos, she had moved her season earnings to $67,256, good enough for second in the WPRA ProRodeo Standings. But that time on the road was a little bittersweet for Mays, whose son, Kyle Easterly, was competing at the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo in Gallup, N.M.

“The thing I didn’t like about it was having to miss my son’s first trip to Gallup,” she said. “He made the short round in the chute dogging, so I’m awfully proud of him. I would’ve liked to have been there to see it, but he knows that this is what we do to take care of him.”

That’s the business of rodeo, and Mays handles her business as well as anyone hauling horses down the road. Of course, it helps that she has Jethro, the reigning AQHA/WPRA Barrel Horse of the Year. Judge Buy Cash is a 12-year-old black gelding by Judge Cash out of Flashs Polly Vandy, and he’s been one of the best horses in the game for several years – he finished third in the voting in 2008 and was second in 2009.

Oh, and he likes Prescott. The 2011 campaign marked the second straight year Mays and Jethro won that rodeo; they also finished second in 2009.

“Yeah, I kind of need to go back to that one,” Mays said, somewhat joking but mostly serious. “He likes it. It’s a good set up for him, and I really like the committee down there.

“It’s a little bit out of the way, but I’ll continue to go to that rodeo.”

Mays set the standard on June 28, the opening night, when she and Jethro rounded the cloverleaf pattern in 17.38 seconds during the performance, then posted a 17.53 an hour and a half later during slack. Five days later, Mays learned she’d won the opening round and $1,724, finished fourth in the second round worth $1,067 and left the field in the dust with her two-run total of 34.91, with another $1,724.

“Jethro has been working pretty good, but he also had a pretty good layoff before we got to Reno,” she said. “I really didn’t think it would win the round. In years past, the round times had always been faster, so it kind of shocked me to win the round.”

The back-to-back format worked quite well for Mays.

“He was actually a little stronger that second run and ran a little bit harder,” she said. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s not good.”

But it worked out, and Mays was on the road in a race for ProRodeo gold while most of America slumbered and planned for its Independence Day holiday.

“The hardest part of it was that I had to go from Prescott to Oakley, Utah,” she said. “I was by myself, and I had to leave at midnight for a 12-hour drive. I got about an hour nap in, then I had to go to Cody, Wyo. When I got to Livingston (Mont.), my husband came and helped.

“I figure I got about six hours sleep in three days, which probably was not enough. But we know coming into it that the Fourth of July, Cowboy Christmas, is about the driving and how people can handle the driving, being exhausted and still being able to compete. We all know what we’re getting into when we enter. That’s just part of it all for us.”

At all the rodeos in which Mays placed, Jethro was her guiding force. She gave the great gelding a break in Red Lodge, Mont., and St. Paul, Ore., where she ran Judge My Fame, an 8-year-old mare she calls Dora by Dash Ta Fame out of Flashy Cashy Cat.

“I think the reason we can make it work is knowing he can handle it,” she said. “But it’s also knowing where he’s been successful and entering the places I know he likes. St. Paul is a good circuit rodeo for us, but he doesn’t like it there, so that’s why I ran my mare.

“What I try to do when I enter all these rodeo is put him in a situation where I know he can be successful.”

It’s a formula that seems to be working, especially in Prescott.

postheadericon Moody and Dolly back on the right track with Sheridan win

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the August 2011 of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to contribute regularly to the magazine.

TR Dashing Badger just wasn’t herself. Jill Moody felt that in every ride, in every turn. She got through Reno, Nev., then she felt some problems in Greeley, Colo.

Jill Moody

Jill Moody

Moody wasn’t very far into her Fourth of July run when she realized things had to change in a hurry, so she and her top-rated horse packed up and hauled home to Letcher, S.D.

“Over the Fourth of July, I turned out of a bunch of stuff because my horse wasn’t feeling right,” said Moody, less than seven months off her record-breaking average win at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “We were having some issues, so we just went home and worked on a few things, changed some things up.”

That’s a pretty big change for Moody and Dolly, the 11-year-old gray mare by Mr. Illuminator out of Easy Cash Bar. Typically, she said, the pair earns between $12,000 and $15,000 during the lucrative run of rodeos around the July 4 holiday. This year, it was zip.

That’s why her Wyoming run of Casper and Sheridan from July 12-16 was such a nice change of pace from Moody’s recent past. At the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo in Casper, she placed in both go-rounds and finished third in the average. But it was her one-head run at the Sheridan WYO Rodeo that helped build confidence.

“When we went back out, we got in the mud in Colorado Springs, so I wasn’t sure what was going on with Dolly,” she said. “But by the time I got to Casper and Sheridan, I knew we were on the right track.”

In Sheridan, Moody and Dolly rounded the cloverleaf pattern in 17.20, just a 100th of a second faster than Kim Schulze. But it helped pad the pocket for $4,465, a nice sum of cash for the cowgirl itching to return to the bright lights of Las Vegas this December and defend her average title.

“Obviously the ultimate goal is to make the finals,” she said. “That was a $7,500 weekend last weekend, so hopefully that will help set me up.

“I try not to enter everything, because I only have one horse. You can do it, but it’s awfully hard on the horses.”

So is running them when they’re not in top form. It’s one thing for a cowgirl to suck it up and compete despite illness or frustration. It’s much different on animal athletes like Dolly.

“Things just started falling apart at Greeley,” Moody said. “I don’t think it was so much me, but I had to take care of my horse. I was entered in Calgary, but I knew we weren’t going to be able to do much.

“I know my horse well enough to know that it won’t do any good running her that way, so we went home and did a few things and changed a few things. Whatever we did, it worked. I don’t want to be like a spoiled brat and say that if I can’t win, I’m just going to go home. But something was up, and I just needed time to figure it out.”

It’s about knowing your partner; in this case, Moody’s partner is one of the best mares in the world of barrel racing. Dolly has been so for many years, but last December, she lit the rodeo world on fire during one of the greatest barrel races in the history of the Wrangler NFR.

Better yet, Moody and Dolly sprinted around the cloverleaf pattern inside the Thomas & Mack Center 10 times, finishing in 138.26 seconds. With it, they broke the long established record set in 1986 by Charmayne James and Scamper.

“Winning the average last year was a pretty good feeling for me because I felt that Dolly hadn’t been getting the recognition she deserved,” Moody said. “The girls had voted her the horse with the most heart, but breaking that record was a huge deal. Even if it only lasts one year, she’ll be the horse that broke Scamper’s record.”

That’s an incredible feat, and in order for Moody to have another shot at that mark, she’ll have to make the most of her opportunities for the rest of the season.

“Probably the best thing about what I do is having Dolly has allowed me to make some choices and do some things I wouldn’t be able to do with out her,” Moody said. “I’m able to pick and choose what rodeos I go to. She allows me to stay out of the snow in the wintertime and out of the heat in the summertime.

“For the rest of the year, I’m going to play it by ear. I’m entered up, but I’ll probably turn out of as many rodeos as I run in. If she stays strong, I’ll stay at the big rodeos and turn out at all the little rodeos, but if she gets a little weak, then I’ll go to the littler rodeos and try to work my way through there and turn out of all the big ones. Hopefully she’ll stay strong.”

That’s what most have come to expect out of Dolly.

postheadericon Let’s talk hospitality

When I got home from a recent two-week rodeo road trip, my wife was a little concerned about making sure I had home-cooked meals.

She didn’t realize the kind of hospitality folks in Lovington, N.M., and Silverton, Texas, provide, because everything was wonderful. From Dutch oven cobbler in southeastern New Mexico to the pre-rodeo steak dinner at Ken and Reba Wood’s home to the shish-kabobs under the M*A*S*H-like tent just beyond the holding pens at Wood Memorial Arena, the meals were awesome.

But that’s just a small indication of the overall hospitality provided by these tremendous volunteers, who donate their time, their talent and their energy to producing the best rodeos they can. Not only that, but they’re looking for ways to improve the product. That might just be the most impressive trait.

That’s good for rodeo.

postheadericon Of softballs and cow patties

Contract personnel for the Buck Wild Days Rodeo in Silverton, Texas, take part in a softball game on the diamond adjacent to Wood Memorial Arena on Wednesday, Aug. 17. (PHOTO BY SANDY GWATNEY)

Contract personnel for the Buck Wild Days Rodeo in Silverton, Texas, take part in a softball game on the diamond adjacent to Wood Memorial Arena on Wednesday, Aug. 17. (PHOTO BY SANDY GWATNEY)

The softball diamond in Silverton, Texas, is next to the rodeo arena. Maybe that’s why the base paths and outfield were littered with cow patties and piles of horse excrement.

That wasn’t about to stop a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls from having a little softball fun. I think it just enhanced the experience. Even the fresh stuff just provided a little “comforts of home” feeling.

The diamond was home to the nightly after-the-rodeo dances that took place last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and dumpsters were already in place for the extra trash disposal the dances were to create. Any batter blessed with the precision needed to land a shot inside one of the receptacles received an automatic home run.

The game between contract personnel and the Buck Wild Days Rodeo committee never surfaced because the locals were still busy getting all the finest details lined out, but a few of our Silverton friends joined in the fun when they could. Still, it was a hotly contested outing.

As the game began, we dodged the cow pies and horse clods while trying to field balls with a few well-worn gloves, bare hands or, as it turned out, a few cowboy hats. As the proceedings continued, beverage cans began to pile and became another obstacle altogether.

Nonetheless, it was an outstanding time, and I’m blessed to have been part of the fun. I hope I’m part of it again next year, too.

postheadericon On the road again

For every ride inside a rodeo arena, cowboys spend hours on the road.

Saddle bronc riders Cody Taton and Casey Sisk put that measure to the test last weekend. The traveling partners from Corona, N.M., had ridden Friday night in Canby, Ore., with their buddy, 2007 world champion Taos Muncy, also of Corona.

They left the western Oregon community and drove through the night, dropping Taos off in Caldwell, Idaho, for Saturday night’s short go-round at the final event of the 2011 Wrangler Million Dollar Tour. Sisk and Taton then continued on to the Boise, Idaho, airport. The 445-mile venture took more than seven hours and got them on a flight for Denver that left at 6:30 a.m. Mountain time.

Upon arriving in Denver, the cowboys boarded another plane for Albuquerque, N.M., then they hustled to their vehicle for the 360-mile drive to Silverton, Texas, where they had drawn a couple of Carr Pro Rodeo broncs.

In all, they spent a few hours in the air and more than 12 hours on the highways in an effort to get from the Northwest to the Texas Panhandle.

Why?

“We wanted to get on Pete’s horses,” Sisk said of Pete Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm.

Taton, who still lists Mud Butte, S.D., as his hometown through the PRCA, rode Carr’s Miss Revolver for 76 points to finish third at the Buck Wild Days Rodeo. Sisk stuggled with Carr’s Sugar Daddy and placed out of the money.

“Anytime we’re entered, we like to come get on,” said Taton, who won the saddle bronc riding average championship at the 2007 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
It doesn’t hurt that the Texas Circuit rodeo was co-sanctioned with the Prairie and Turquoise circuits, meaning dollars earned in Silverton counted toward standings for contestants in all three circuits.

Taton and Sisk are sitting second and third in the Turquoise Circuit, made up of rodeos and contestants primarily from New Mexico and Arizona. The top 12 in each event at the end of the regular season qualify for the circuit finals, so it was important in the region. But there was so much more.

“Pete Carr’s one of the few, if not the only, stock contractor we’d do this for, because we know we have a chance to win on anything he has out,” Sisk said.

postheadericon Contestants collect Texas money on Carr animals

SILVERTON, Texas – Cooper Kanngiesser knows a lot about bucking bulls.

Not only has the one-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier ridden the beasts much of his life, but Kanngiesser raises the animals, too. In fact, he sold several of his up-and-coming superstars just a few weeks ago to Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo. Some of those athletic bulls were part of the action at the Buck Wild Days Rodeo from Aug. 18-20, and Kanngiesser and his traveling partners made their way to the Texas Panhandle community for the chance to compete.

“We came here because we had good bulls,” said Brad Harris of Udall, Kan., who scored 86 points on Carr’s Rock Star, a 3-year-old bull that two months ago was grazing in pastureland near Kanngiesser’s home in Zenda, Kan. “I’d seen that bull before, but I’d never been on him. He’s pretty good, and he’s got some growing to do.”

Rodeo’s rising stars come in all shapes and sizes. For Harris, a 23-year-old rookie in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, he stands about 5-foot-8 and weighs about 150 pounds. Rock Star weighs about 1,600 pounds, can leap high and is athletic. Everybody in the bull riding game expects both to be around a long time.

Harris shared the Silverton victory with one of his traveling partners, Cole Echols of Elm Grove, La., who rode Carr’s Synergy for 86 points. Both cowboys earned $1,131.

“It’s pretty good coming here,” Echols said. “It worked out for me.”

Synergy has been one of Carr’s top bulls, and cowboys who ride the athletic beast for the qualifying eight seconds tend to score well. Big points and big dollars are important for any bull rider, but Echols needs every ounce of help he can get after struggling early in the rodeo season.

“I didn’t get a good start, so I’m trying to get myself into the top 50 in the standings at the end of this season so I can ride in them buildings next winter,” said Echols, referring to qualifying for big winter rodeos in places like Fort Worth, Texas; San Antonio; and Denver. “If I can get in those, I can make a run at the finals.”

Echols and Harris are just two of several top hands who were crowned champions at this year’s Buck Wild Days Rodeo. Shon Gibson of Taylor, Ariz., and Evan Jayne of Marseille, France, scored 80 points each to win a tough bareback riding, where several cowboys found the true power of some of Carr’s horses. Jayne rode Carr’s Sierra Madre on Saturday night, while Gibson rode Carr’s Island Girl on Friday night to share the title.

Regional cowboy T.J. Bohlender of Canyon, Texas, won the all-around and steer wrestling titles. Bohlender, who also competed in team roping, dropped his steer to the ground in 4.7 seconds to earn $1,157. Other winners were tie-down roper Justin Maass of Giddings, Texas, 9.1 seconds, $1,591; steer roper Cody Lee of Gatesville, Texas, 35.5 seconds on three runs, $3,004; team ropers Cody Tew and Boogie Ray, 5.1 seconds, $1,736 each; barrel racer Tonya Parrish, 17.76 seconds, $976; and saddle bronc rider Cody Anthony, 78 points on Carr’s Sweet Emotion, $1,373.

“It was a really good rodeo, and it’s just going to keep growing,” said Carr, noting that the 2011 campaign was just the second year the Silverton rodeo was part of the PRCA. “The people in this town work really hard to make it successful, and that word’s going to spread around ProRodeo.”

postheadericon Photos for Lovington and Silverton

I was asked by a website that does the RSS feed to TwisTED Rodeo to adjust how I do the photos on the page. Well … I don’t know how else to do it, so I’ll just send you all to the Facebook page, where I’ve posted photos from both Lovington, N.M., and Silverton, Texas.

Oh, and I’m enjoying the high-speed Internet at home. I didn’t realize how much I’ve grown accustomed to it until four nights without it.

Enjoy: http://www.facebook.com/twisTED.Rodeo