postheadericon Bareback school offers priceless education

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The value of a quality education is priceless.

For young bareback riders hoping to make their mark in professional rodeo, the opportunity to learn from the best that play the game is just as valuable. The price tag, however, is almost unreal.

Clint Cannon

Clint Cannon

“We put on this school at no charge to the students,” said Kirby Cannon, who organizes the annual school with his brother, Clint Cannon, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Waller, Texas. “Our goal is to get more bareback riders in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. We take serious younger students.”

In fact, 145 students applied, but just 50 will be part of this year’s Southeast Texas Bareback Riding School, set for Thursday, Nov. 15-Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead.

“We encourage everybody tries to get their PRCA permit so they can compete at ProRodeos,” Cannon said. “We’ve got kids coming from all across the country and some kids coming from Canada, Mexico, Brazil and New Zealand. Some have never been on horses, and some have been on tons. We want to give them every opportunity to be successful.”

The cost is zero. The four days of learning is outstanding. In addition to the Cannon brothers, teachers will include their father, Jay, and top-level bareback riders: Steven Anding, Heath Ford, J.R. Vezain, Austin Foss, Bob Logue, Jerry Coble, Kelly Timberman, Matt Bright, Brian Hawk, Yvan Jayne, Mike Todd, Jeremy Willis, Bill Tutor, Taylor Price, Tray Chambliss III, Craig Weisart, Doug Champion and Richie Champion.

“Most of our instructors have been to the NFR multiple times, so we’re giving these guys a chance to learn from the best,” Cannon said. “They all donate their time. Some of the guys who are going to the NFR this year will get on during the school so they can get tuned up before they go to the finals.

“I think that helps our students, because they get to watch and see how it’s done right.”

Students also get a chance to experience ProRodeo livestock. Contractors who are donating bucking horses are Classic Pro Rodeo, Carr Pro Rodeo, Chad Lancaster, Rafter G Rodeo, Frontier Rodeo, Cullen Pickett, Catalina Pro Rodeo, Do Or Die Pro Rodeo and Mike Outhier, a former NFR qualifier in saddle bronc rider who raises bucking horses.

“We really couldn’t put this on without all those guys donating their livestock,” Cannon said. “Pete Carr was our first contractor, but with how our school has grown over time, we’ll buck 240 head of horses in four days. There’s no way we can thank these guys enough for doing this. They’re out the expense of hauling these animals here to Hempstead, and they keep coming back.”

There also are prizes set forth for the top students. The PRCA will provide permits at no cost to the top three students who don’t already have a permit; Barstow Rodeo Equipment will provide a rigging to the top college student; and Montana Silversmiths is donating three trophy buckles: one for the top student, one for the most improved and one for the student who had the hardest luck.

“We’ve also got a number of local businesses who are donating food,” Cannon said. “The Waller County Fair Association donates the use of the arena, and all that is important for us to be able to continue to do this.”

The Southeast Texas Bareback Riding School is in its sixth year, having begun in 2007. Several former students will be instructors, including Foss, the 2012 PRCA Bareback Riding Rookie of the Year, and Vezain, the 2011 rookie winner who has qualified for this year’s NFR.

“J.R. is our first former student to make the NFR, so that’s pretty cool,” Cannon said.

Yes, it is. How many more will follow? That’s hard to tell.

“We just want to give these guys all the advantages they can have at the next level,” he said. “We’ll go over everything, from getting ready for the ride to knowing what it takes to enter a rodeo. They need to know all that if they want to be successful.”

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