Archive for July, 2012

postheadericon Rodeo money on the Prairie

The three-week run of rodeos in the Prairie Circuit is at its midway point with events scheduled this week.

It began last week in Woodward, Okla., and Pretty Prairie, Kan. This week there are rodeos in Burwell, Neb.; Wahoo, Neb.; Manhattan, Kan; Hardtner, Kan.; and Mitchell, Neb. The big run of high-dollar rodeos closes out next week at events in Dodge City, Kan.; Hill City, Kan.; Phillipsburg, Kan.; and Abilene, Kan.

It’s an important run for contestants vying to qualify or the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, which will take place Oct. 18-20 at the Stephens County Expo Center in Duncan, Okla. More importantly, next week’s run is a major player for those cowboys and cowgirls hoping to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December.

Dodge City Roundup Rodeo is the only event on the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour scheduled for next week, so it’s an important place for ProRodeo’s elite to be. That means the other events in the region will benefit. That’s good for all those events, from the Jayhawker Roundup in Hill City to Sidney (Iowa) Championship Rodeo.

It’s good for the cowboys, too.

postheadericon Roundup gets Tough for local organization

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Mary Trotter’s recent heart surgery did nothing to diminish her support for the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign that works alongside the annual Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.

In fact, the procedure might have stoked a bigger fire for Trotter’s passion for the Circle of Hope, a Dodge City organization that gives back to cancer patients and their families; it is the beneficiary of the rodeo’s Pink Night fund-raiser. Roundup Rodeo is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1-Sunday, Aug. 5, and the Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 4.

“It’s pretty important to me because what we do goes right into the community,” she said. “The Circle of Hope had no funding before this, and they’re able to help people with groceries, transportation, rent … just about anything they might need. We just got a web page up, but before that, all the information about the Circle of Hope was just word of mouth.”

Now that the word is getting out, people are learning more about the organization, a self-help non-profit group for cancer patients and their caregivers.

Former Miss Rodeo America Amy Wilson of Colby, Kan., leads stock contractor Harry Vold and committee chairman Dr. R.C. Trotter during the grand entry during at the 2009 Dodge City Roundup Rodeo's Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night. The annual event raises money for Dodge City-based Circle of Hope.

Former Miss Rodeo America Amy Wilson of Colby, Kan., leads stock contractor Harry Vold and committee chairman Dr. R.C. Trotter during the grand entry during at the 2009 Dodge City Roundup Rodeo’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night. The annual event raises money for Dodge City-based Circle of Hope.

“The support group was formed by Jack and Jane Dalton and Ray and Pat Shrader of Dodge City,” reads a statement on the site, www.circleofhopedodgecity.com. “Both Jane and Pat were diagnosed as having cancer at approximately the same time in 1992. Being very proactive in seeing that they would receive the best treatment available, the best oncologists associated with each ones type of cancer, and the best care during their time of recovery, they were determined to fight their cancer with a passion and see that everything was being done to give them the opportunity to survive this dreaded disease.”

The Circle of Hope provides financial assistance, resource information, sharing and caring group meetings and free mammograms for women ages 35-64 that have no insurance or might have a high premium. The group also encourages early detection and prevention programs.

Over the last six years, Roundup Rodeo’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign has raised more than $126,000 for the Circle of Hope.

“It’s kept that pace since we started,” Trotter said. “This thing just keeps going and going, and we’ve had other things hop on the bandwagon. The local Knights of Columbus got ahold of us so they could have a fund-raising breakfast for Tough Enough, and they’re looking to do a horseshoe pitching contest to raise money for Tough Enough.

“We have sponsors who give, and we pass the pink hats for four nights of the rodeo. We also sell pink products – we have some cool new clothes this year – and all the proceeds go to the Circle of Hope.”

While fans, contestants, personnel and the arena will be decked out on Saturday night, there are plenty of opportunities to give beyond that particular night.

“We will pass the hat Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with Saturday being that grand finale,” Trotter said. “We will be at the parade, at the barbecue and at our booth at the rodeo. We’re just trying to raise as much money for them as we can.”

To that end, anyone can give at any time, but it’s quite a site to see the rodeo arena “pinked out.” For those who wish, they can also donate through the Circle of Hope’s website.

“I think our Tough Enough fund-raising going to the Circle of Hope is important to the people here because it’s local,” Trotter said. “Some groups send their stuff off to other organizations, but ours just keeps going in the community. Before Tough Enough, Roundup didn’t have that much to give back to the community other than entertainment and the rodeo.

“I think that has a lot to do with it. People are proud to give locally. We had a farmer from Sublette who wanted to be a sponsor for Tough Enough. I don’t know whether he had cancer in the family or what, but he just takes care of it out there. It’s interesting when it takes off and keeps evolving.”

postheadericon Cool Runnings in Eagle is karma for Scheer

EAGLE, Colo. – Cort Scheer has worked his way up the saddle bronc riding world standings.

That’s no easy task, even for the best in the game. It’s a tougher task for Scheer, who missed a good portion of the 2011 ProRodeo season after suffering a torn knee ligament, just a few months removed from his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualification.

Cort Scheer

Cort Scheer

Scheer is firmly in the top 10 in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s saddle bronc riding money list, and he has a chance to move up this week at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 25-Saturday, July 28.

You see, Scheer is matched with Carr Pro Rodeo’s Cool Runnings, a Carr Pro Rodeo horse that is quickly becoming the talk in saddle bronc riding. In fact, Jake Wright recently matched moves with Cool Runnings to win the Navajo Nation Fourth of July PRCA Rodeo in Window Rock, Ariz., posting an 88-point score worth $3,437.

“That horse has been pretty good all year long,” said Pete Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm that provides the bucking animals in Eagle. “Cort’s got that horse on Wednesday night, but Ryan Elshere has Cool Runnings on Friday, and I think they’ll both do well.”

Wright, one of four brothers that are scheduled to compete Saturday night, has drawn Miss Congeniality, a mare that has been selected to perform at the NFR each of the past two years. Before she became of the Carr string, she was selected as the horse of the Canadian Finals Rodeo. Other bronc riding matchups include Deuces Wild vs. Cody DeMoss and Sam Spreadborough, and Corner Guard against Rusty Allen.

The Carr bulls will be tested by some of the top cowboys in the game. Black Ice will be matched against Trey Benton III, a top-five bull rider who leads the PRCA rookie standings, and Kanin Asay, a four-time NFR qualifier. The Mexican will be tested by Tony Mendez, who has been atop the bull riding game for many years.

Other bull riding matchups include Morning After and Cody Rostockyj – Jacob O’Mara rode Morning After for 89 points to win in Window Rock on July 6 – and Craig Jackson vs. Missing Parts.

Tom McFarland leads a list of top-flight bareback riders who are scheduled to compete in Eagle. McFarland, a four-time NFR qualifier, is matched against Carr’s MGM Deuces Night, one of the most recognized broncs in ProRodeo.

So far this year, MGM Deuces Night has guided cowboys to event titles in Houston, Texas; Guymon, Okla.; and Pecos, Texas, and contestants have had soaring scores – reigning world champion Kaycee Feild scored an arena-record 93 points to win RodeoHouston in March; Steven Dent had a PRCA-best 91 on the 7-year-old bay/paint mare west Texas in late June; and J.R. Vezain was 89 in Guymon in early May.

Other key match-ups include Real Deal matching moves with 2011 NFR qualifier Brian Bain; Miss Hollywood vs. Vezain and three-time world champion Will Lowe; PRCA rookie standings leader Richie Champion will try Grass Dancer, the horse that guided Ryan Gray to a world record-tying 94 points in Eagle just three seasons ago; and Caleb Bennett vs. Outa Sight, a 7-year-old paint mare that hasn’t bucked in more than a year – she was selected to buck at the 2010 NFR.

postheadericon MGM Deuces Night ignites Dent’s win streak

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Over the course of two weeks from the end of June into July, Steven Dent won $25,685.

He was the big winner during ProRodeo’s Cowboy Christmas, the time of year around the Fourth of July holiday that features some lucrative rodeos with great payouts. When it all came together, Dent had catapulted into the lead in the bareback riding world standings.

Steven Dent

Steven Dent

And it all started on July 30 in Pecos, Texas, where he matched moves with Carr Pro Rodeo’s MGM Deuces Night for 91 points to win the West of the Pecos Rodeo. He collected $3,491, and the string of great rides began.

“If we could vote on the most desirable horse in the world to draw, I would say everybody would probably pick Deuces Night,” said Steven Dent, a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo bareback rider from Mullin, Neb. “If you had one horse, one ride to win any rodeo, I’m pretty sure everyone would say Deuces Night.”

MGM Deuces Night, along with a number of other elite bucking beasts from the Carr ranch, will be featured at Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Wednesday, Aug. 8-Saturday, Aug. 11, at Jake McClure Arena.

Dent’s ride in Pecos was the highest-marked ride on the 7-year-old bay/paint mare at a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event in her three years bucking in ProRodeo and the second highest marked ride on her ever – reigning world champion Kaycee Feild of Payson, Utah, posted a 93-point, arena-record ride to win the $50,000 round at RodeoHouston, a non-sanctioned event.

“I’d never been on that horse, but I’d been on Pete’s Dirty Jacket before,” Dent said. “Actually a couple years ago I finished second on him; Chris Harris won on Deuces Night before anybody knew about that horse. I’ve been wanting to get on Deuces Night ever since.

“It felt really good. She left the chute really hard. She feels like she stalls out and leaps six feet in the air. If every horse felt like that, there would be 500 more bareback riders in the world.”

The mare has a pretty strong resume. Of the four times she’s bucked at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, she’s helped cowboys to three go-round victories and one runner-up finish. Some experts might say she just likes that arena. Well, that can be said for just about any rodeo pen.

“She’s been pretty electric just about anywhere we’ve taken her,” said Pete Carr, the man who owns MGM Deuces Night and Carr Pro Rodeo.

And the cowboys love it.

Kaycee Feild

Kaycee Feild

“That’s just a unique horse, and she gets real high in the air,” said Feild, who rode her for the 10th-round win during the 2011 NFR. “That horse tries really hard to buck really good. She gets high in the air and gives you a lot of time to set your feet and crank your toes out. You’ve got to have quick feet and set them high in the neck. With that horse, it seems easy to set them high in the neck.

“She’s that way every time I’ve been on her. She’s a pretty cool horse.”

Feild has seen her quite a bit. He won the NFR’s 10th round on MGM Deuces Night in 2010, too, then scored 90 points to share the final-round win in April 2011 at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. Of course, Feild isn’t the only cowboy to have success on the young mare.

“When I heard callbacks, I was screaming out loud and running around like a little girl,” said J.R. Vezain of Cowley, Wyo., who rodeo MGM Deuces Night for 89 points to win the rodeo in Guymon, Okla., earlier this year. “I had my highest marked ride on that horse last year with an 87 at San Antonio, and I was going for the record this year.

“I was going for 90; I knew it was going to be good.”

That’s what Ryan Gray of Chaney, Wash., got when he matched moves with the horse during the fifth go-round of the 2011 NFR. It was worthy of the round victory, just like Kelly Timberman of Mills, Wyo., did in 2010, when he scored 88.5 points. Not bad for a horse that was raised by bareback rider Wes Stevenson.

“I knew she’d have a really good shot to come to the finals,” said Stevenson, a seven-time NFR qualifier from Lubbock, Texas. “I knew she was that good, so part of the reason I sold her to Pete is that I knew she’d have a good shot to go to the finals. I bought her from Jim Zinser as a brood mare, but she bucked so good, I didn’t want to waste her sitting at my house. I wanted her to have a chance.

“She has a lot of heart. I was the first one to get on her with a rigging, and from the first time we ever bucked her, I knew that little filly has a lot of heart. She’s a very electric horse.”

postheadericon Tour helps draw the very best to Lovington

LOVINGTON, N.M. – A tour system was established in ProRodeo more than a decade ago to showcase some of the greatest events in the sport.

It continues today and is a major drawing card for cowboys and cowgirls who make their livings traveling the rodeo trail. The Wrangler Million Dollar Tour features 25 rodeos that offer lucrative payouts. More money means more big named contestants, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Enter the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8-Saturday, Aug. 11 at Jake McClure Arena. It is one of three tour rodeos taking place that week, joining Hermiston, Ore., and Sikeston, Mo.

“For us being so far away from all the other rodeos this time of year, I think it’s a big draw for us to get most of the top 15 contestants in here,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “There are a lot of rodeos that weekend, and there aren’t many in our area. With today’s economy, contestants are trying to travel as little a distance as possible and still make as much money as possible.”

With Lovington nestled in southeast New Mexico, the bulk of ProRodeos take place in the Northwest. But the tour is a major drawing card for the contestants.

“We wanted the best cowboys and cowgirls to come to our rodeo, not just consider it,” said Dean Jackson, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “We were having problems with contestants turning out, and we wanted to remedy that.”

A turn-out happens when a contestant enters the competition, then opts out. The tour provides the incentive for the contestants to be in Lovington.

“Since we’ve become a tour rodeo, we’ve seen a significant decrease in turn-outs,” Jackson said. “Part of that has to do with having Carr Pro Rodeo as our stock contractor, and he brings the animals the guys want to get on. The other thing that’s helped is that we’ve got the back-to-back format, where the timed-event contestants can get in and get out in the same day. If they can come in and do both their runs and leave, they’re happy.

“We’ve had good contestants. We’re getting most of the top guys, and you can’t complain about that one bit.”

The top guys don’t complain about making it to Lovington, either. In rodeo, dollars equal points, and the contestant in each event who finishes the season with the most money earned is crowned world champion. The tour is built around rodeos with big-money payouts, so it’s all very attractive to the sport’s biggest names as well as its rising stars.

Clint Cooper

Clint Cooper

“I won this rodeo two times before, in ’04 and ’07,” said Clint Cooper, a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who graduated from Lovington High School. “It’s real important for me to win this rodeo. Now it’s part of the (Wrangler Million Dollar) tour, so that’s a big deal, too. There’s only one more tour rodeo left, so this rodeo is going to draw all the top guys, that’s for sure.”

A year ago, Cooper finished second at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, earning almost $3,200 in the process. Those dollars helped him get to Las Vegas, where he won a go-round and placed in four others. In all, he earned $48,269 at the 2011 NFR.

How big was New Mexico’s only tour stop last year? Of the 10 event champions crowned (including ties) in Lovington last August, seven qualified for the NFR – bareback riders Brian Bain and Will Lowe, steer wrestler Dean Gorsuch, team ropers Clay Tryan and Travis Graves, steer roper Trevor Brazile (who won the steer roping and all-around titles last year) and bull rider Chandler Bownds.

“I like to make money, but to win a rodeo is something special,” said Bain, who parlayed his Lea County title into his trip to Vegas as a qualifier.

postheadericon Carr breeding program helping local rodeo

Carr Pro Rodeo's River Boat Annie eats from a trough while her 2012 colt by the great NFR stallion Korczak stands next to her. River Boat Annie has been selected to the NFR each of the last seven years. She was the reserve world champion bareback horse in 2007. (TED HARBIN PHOTO)

Carr Pro Rodeo’s River Boat Annie eats from a trough while her 2012 colt by the great NFR stallion Korczak stands next to her. River Boat Annie has been selected to the NFR each of the last seven years. She was the reserve world champion bareback horse in 2007. (TED HARBIN PHOTO)

LOVINGTON, N.M. – Mercedes Benz knows what it takes to manufacture some of the world’s greatest automobiles.

Pete Carr knows the manufacturing is much different, but he’s got a pretty good idea what it takes to produce the world’s greatest animal athletes. That’s why the Carr Pro Rodeo breeding program is such a big deal and while fans in Lovington will get to see its rewards during the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Wednesday, Aug. 8-Saturday, Aug. 11, at Jake McClure Arena.

The foundation is on the Carr Pro Rodeo ranch southeast of Athens in east Texas. It’s where bucking horses and bulls are pampered and where trees align pastureland to provide shade and cover. It’s where established athletes are matched to create the next generation of stars.

“We definitely take care of the animals,” said Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm. “Jeff Collins is our ranch manager, and he takes care of everything as if it were his own. That means a lot. We know we can trust everything he does.”

From the right feed to the acres of grassland, the ranch is a great place for great animal athletes.

Right now, mares that have performed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – from River Boat Annie to Black Coffee – are providing the TLC to their weeks old colts, fathered by NFR bucker Korczak. Yes, it’s more than 500 miles from Lovington to the Carr ranch, but the fans who pack the Jake McClure Arena get to see the result of great breeding when they watch the animals in action.

For instance, River Boat Annie was named the reserve world champion bareback horse in 2007 and has been to the NFR every year since. She has three colts that are being prepared for their trips to Las Vegas.

“She’s got a 3-year-old colt that we just bucked with a dummy,” Collins said about one of the first arena experiences for young horses.

The device is controlled by a remote control that, when clicked, releases a lock on the dummy so it feels as though the dummy is bucked off. In order to give the young buckers confidence, Collins hits the remote trigger at three seconds.

“When River Boat’s colt bucked, it was so cool and so electric that it took everything I had to push that button,” Collins said. “You hope to see that kind of action every time that horse bucks.”

That’s what Carr is hoping and why he’s invested into the breeding program as much as he has. Korczak bucked at the NFR in both bareback riding and bronc riding, which makes him a valuable portion of the breeding program. The paint horse’s genetics flow quite easily among many of the colts on the ranch.

“I’m excited by what we’re seeing as far as our breeding program,” Carr said. “Over the years, I’ve gone out and acquired great animals, both horses and bulls. I want to produce great rodeos, entertaining rodeos. To do that, you have to have the best contestants. To get the best contestants, you have to have good livestock.

“I’m happy that our breeding program is contributing to that.”

The foundation for a great rodeo lies on an east Texas ranch, but the benefits are found in Lovington.

postheadericon Eagle’s setting, Carr animals entice cowboys

Casey Colletti of Pueblo, Colo., and Carr Pro Rodeo's Grass Dancer perform during the 2011 Eagle County Fair and Rodeo in Eagle, Colo.The two Wrangler National Finals Rodeo athletes will be part of this year's rodeo, set for next week. (PRCA PRORODEO PHOTO BY GREG WESTFALL)

Casey Colletti of Pueblo, Colo., and Carr Pro Rodeo’s Grass Dancer perform during the 2011 Eagle County Fair and Rodeo in Eagle, Colo.The two Wrangler National Finals Rodeo athletes will be part of this year’s rodeo, set for next week. (PRCA PRORODEO PHOTO BY GREG WESTFALL)

EAGLE, Colo. – Ask any contestant what makes the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo special, they’ll talk about the setting, the crowds and the great bucking animals.

Whatever it is, the annual event is quite successful, and it’s just getting better with age.

Casey Colletti

Casey Colletti

“It’s awesome for a lot of reasons, but partly because it’s Colorado,” said Casey Colletti, one of the top bareback riders in the game from Pueblo, Colo. “It’s beautiful there. It’s by the river; it’s in the mountains. It’s Colorado in July.”

The Eagle County Fair and Rodeo is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 25-Saturday, July 28, and it provides a picturesque showcase of outstanding rodeo talent. Take Colletti, who is on pace to qualify for a second straight Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. A year ago, he rode Carr Pro Rodeo’s Grass Dancer for 86 points and a share of third place in Eagle. The $1,300 he earned helped him qualify for the NFR.

“I have one of the rankest pictures of my life from that rodeo,” he said of the Greg Westfall photograph of him and Grass Dancer from last July. “Pete Carr is there, and he brings all the great horses that we all want to get on. The cool thing about Eagle is that everything bucks so well there that you never know what’s going to win.”

That just adds to the excitement. Take Grass Dancer, for example, the 11-year-old buckskin mare has been to the NFR each of the last four years. At Eagle in 2009, she matched moves with Ryan Gray for a world record-tying 94 points.

“Eagle is a pretty special place, even if we’re just talking about the atmosphere,” said Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm. “The animals just love the weather there.  It’s really cool for us as well when you figure we’re a Texas livestock company. Getting to go to Eagle in July from this kind of heat in Texas is a nice change for all of us.”

It worked out quite well for Louie Brunson, who won saddle bronc riding at Eagle a year ago. He and Carr’s Trail Dust matched up for 85 points, worth $2,800 for Brunson.

“That was my first time on that horse, but it seems like everything bucks good in Eagle,” said Brunson, 26, of Interior, S.D. “It’s just kind of a cool rodeo. It has a neat background and good stock.

Louie Brunson

Louie Brunson

“When you ride, they get awesome crowds. They packed that thing full. I couldn’t believe it.”

Why?

“It’s a good rodeo,” he said. “It’s a tough rodeo to get into, because there are so many guys who enter it. It seems like everybody shows up because you’ve got a chance to win on everything.”

Colletti agrees. There are only so many spots available in each of the roughstock events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding.

“It would mean a lot if I could win that rodeo,” said Colletti, who won $82,644 during his 10 days in Las Vegas for the 2011 NFR. “I’ve always wanted to win that rodeo. I’ve seen that buckle, and I’ve always wanted one. Plus it’s close to home.

“I’m not the local guy, but I’m the Colorado guy.”

And he’d love to make a big move on the back of a Carr horse.

“Those animals get out of the hot Texas heat, and they get in the mountains and that cool air, and it makes them feel better,” Colletti said. “When they feel that good, they show it. That’s pretty cool.”

postheadericon Norton reflects on two decades in Dodge City

Jerry Norton, the 1998 world champion freestyle bullfighter from Mitchell, S.D., will fight for the last time during the 2012 Dodge City (Kan.) Roundup Rodeo, where he has worked for 20 years. (PRCA PRORODEO PHOTO BY DAN HUBBELL)

Jerry Norton, the 1998 world champion freestyle bullfighter from Mitchell, S.D., will fight for the last time during the 2012 Dodge City (Kan.) Roundup Rodeo, where he has worked for 20 years. (PRCA PRORODEO PHOTO BY DAN HUBBELL)

DODGE CITY, Kan. – Jerry Norton is a world champion, a motivational speaker and a doting father.

He also has been a fixture every summer in Dodge City, where he serves as a bullfighter and ambassador for Roundup Rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1-Sunday, Aug. 5, at Roundup Arena. The 2012 edition of Kansas’ largest rodeo will mark the end of Norton’s 23-year ProRodeo bullfighting career.

Jerry Norton

Jerry Norton

“I’m moving on,” Norton said. “Bullfighting doesn’t thrill me as much as it used to. I’m also realizing I’m not a young pup. I want to quit before they say that I should have to. Plus I’m getting very busy working as a barrelman and rodeo clown. Dodge City is the only rodeo I’ll be fighting bulls this season.”

It’s a transition phase for Norton, but it’s befitting of a grand celebration. Norton first arrived in Dodge City to serve in cowboy protection during the rodeo’s bull riding, but his main purpose was to battle for the coveted title in the Wrangler Bullfights, a freestyle bullfight that was a longtime feature at Roundup and several other rodeos across this land. In fact, Norton won the Wrangler Bullfighting Tour’s world championship at the 1998 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

“Dodge City’s really the only rodeo I get to work with Jerry, and it’s always good to see him and his family and share what’s gone on with our lives throughout the year,” said Lance Brittan, the 1999 Wrangler Bullfighting Tour’s world champion originally from Scott City, Kan. “We’ve become good friends over the years, and we call each other a couple of times a year, but I really enjoy getting the chance to sit down and visit with him.”

They also get to use their athleticism during Roundup’s bull riding to keep everyone in the arena out of harm’s way. This year they will be joined by rising star Wacey Munsell, also a freestyle bullfighting world champion who won titles in association with the Professional Bull Riders tour and the World Championship Rodeo Bullfighting, an event that is designed specifically for freestyle fights.

“It will be pretty cool personal feeling to look around that arena and seeing that level of ability that’s not matched very often,” Norton said. “I’m sure each one of us is going to be stepping it up.

“With Wacey taking over for me after this year, there will be a seamless transition. He’ll take the shots that need to be taken. Basically this is his hometown crowd. He has wanted to work this rodeo since before he got into the PRCA.”

Munsell, a third-generation bullfighter from Ulysses, Kan., is looking forward to the opportunity that awaits him in Dodge City.

“It’s a goal I’ve long awaited to accomplish,” he said. “I grew up going to that rodeo. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been to that rodeo. I can remember back when I was 8 years old going to that rodeo, and it was Jerry, Lloyd Ketchum and Rowdy Berry. That was when the Wrangler tour was big. I’ve wanted to fight bulls there since then.”

That happens when one is raised around bullfighting. Norton wasn’t, but he has taken to it quite well. In fact, he’s worked some of the biggest events in the sport since turning pro in 1990. He’s most proud, though, of working Roundup for 20 years.

“I went in knowing that the only bullfighter Dodge City brings back every year was the one that won the bullfighting,” Norton said. “I knew I had to do that.

“One of my biggest memories is being asked to come back the second year. I didn’t win the bullfight, and they asked me back. That was pretty special to me.”

That euphoria continued year after year.

“What’s best is the people involved,” he said. “It’s the people of Dodge City, not just the rodeo committee people. Some are the rodeo’s sponsors, and some are just people from the community. We’ve got some really good friends there. That’s the one rodeo that’s a gimme for my wife to attend, because she loves Roundup Rodeo that much.”

Why? Over the course of two decades, even April Norton has learned what her husband appreciates about Roundup.

“I’m blessed beyond what I deserve to go to a rodeo like Dodge City for so long,” Jerry Norton said. “That has allowed me and my family to develop relationships like we have.”

postheadericon Bull riding’s best will be part of Xtreme Bulls

NFR qualifier Ardie Meier of Timberlake, S.D., rides Carr Pro Rodeo's The Mexican during the final performance in Guymon, Okla., this past May. Both athletes are scheduled to be part of the inaugural Lea County Xtreme Bulls event, set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Jake McClure Arena in Lovington, N.M. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

NFR qualifier Ardie Meier of Timberlake, S.D., rides Carr Pro Rodeo’s The Mexican during the final performance in Guymon, Okla., this past May. Both athletes are scheduled to be part of the inaugural Lea County Xtreme Bulls event, set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Jake McClure Arena in Lovington, N.M. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

LOVINGTON, N.M. – The Lea County Fair and Rodeo has become known as a place that draws the very best contestants in ProRodeo.

It’s about to get even better.

Forty of the top bull riders in the country will take part in the inaugural Lea County Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Jake McClure Arena. Money earned in Lovington that night will count toward the Xtreme Bulls standings and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s bull riding world standings and a chance to qualify for the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Jacob O'Mara

Jacob O’Mara

“I think it’s a good thing that Lovington’s having an Xtreme Bulls, because last year with just the rodeo pen, it was a good rodeo and an important rodeo because it was part of the tour,” said Jacob O’Mara, a 2011 NFR qualifier from Prairieville, La. “What a better way to make it even bigger than to throw an Xtreme Bulls in there. I think you can draw even more of a crowd, and I think you’re going to see even more of the top bull riders.

“I think it’ll be a great turnout all the way around.”

The main factor for the Lea County Fair Board was offering another entertainment package for fairgoers.

“We’ve been trying to work on this for some time,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We thought it was an event that would go well with our fair and rodeo. We think the people in this area would really enjoy it. Xtreme Bulls is a high-energy event that people in this area would turn out for.

“With the price of our fair and rodeo being just $6 for admission, we felt like it was an outstanding event we could give to a family for a very affordable price.”

That it is. More than half the field of entrants have qualified for the NFR, including three world champions, Shane Proctor of Grand Coulee, Wash. (2011), Wesley Silcox of Payson, Utah (2007) and J.W. Harris of Mullin, Texas(2008-10). Also scheduled to compete are the top four cowboys in the world standings: No. 1 Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas; No. 2 Cody Samora, Cortez, Colo.; No. 3 Kanin Asay, Powell, Wyo.; and No. 4 Trey Benton III, Rock Island, Texas.

Cody Whitney

Cody Whitney

“What’s big is you get a chance to ride for a lot of money,” said Cody Whitney, a three-time NFR qualifier from Sayre, Okla. “If you do good and you win, it’s going to pay close to $15,000. Not only do you want to win that kind of money, but it shoots you far enough in the standings so that you can take a deep breath and relax; you don’t have to stress so much about making the finals.

“I think it’s good for Lovington because not only will it help their numbers in bull riding contestants, but it will really help their crowd grow for the Xtreme Bulls and the rodeo, too.”

It looks to be a win-win for contestants and fans. In fact, the Lea County Xtreme Bulls will be featured on the nationally televised package on Great American County network. The program is scheduled to air the first time at 8 p.m. Mountain time Tuesday, Sept. 11.

“We wanted to give the people something more to see,” said Dean Jackson, the fair board chairman. “We’re always trying to update our venue, and everybody loves the bull riding.”

postheadericon Hey, Kaycee, let’s visit

Kaycee Feild

Kaycee Feild

If I need a loan, all I have to do is check in with the Bank of Kaycee Feild.

In the last eight months, Feild has won three of the most prestigious bareback riding titles in the sport: The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, RodeoHouston and the Calgary Stampede.

In those three rodeos alone, Feild has pocketed $350,977 – $179,327 during 10 days in Las Vegas, $53,650 in Houston and $118,000 in Alberta. As of July 16, 2012, Feild sits in the top five in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings with $53,638. Throw that in, and Feild has pocketed more than $400,000 since Dec. 1, 2011.

That’s a CEO’s salary; maybe Feild would consider a TwisTED grant.

Hey, Kaycee, let’s visit.

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