postheadericon ‘Ironman’ a tough test for true cowboys

Linderman Award winners provide a fresh flavor to Timed Event Championship mix

Does a true cowboy work on the ranch or in the rodeo arena? Does he tame wild horses or rope steers? Does he care for livestock or work with ragged fencing until his hands bleed?

The definition of a true cowboy is all of that and more. Ask any of the 20 contestants invited to be part of the 2013 Timed Event Championship of the World, set for March 1-3 at the Lazy E Arena. They will battle in one of the most rugged cowboy competitions ever created, roping and wrestling 25 animals in five go-rounds spread over just three days.

Mike Outhier

Mike Outhier

“The Timed Event shows the best talent of a cowboy, about being a great cowboy and being able to do anything,” said Mike Outhier, an Oklahoma-born cowboy who is competing at the “Ironman” of ProRodeo for the first time in his career. “It’s pretty special if you can do everything.”

Outhier has done everything for a long time. He grew up near Weatherford, Okla., with a rope in his hand. When he was old enough, he added riding bucking beasts to his resume – yeah, he’s pretty good at it, too. As a saddle bronc rider, Outhier qualified four times for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

He also competed in timed events and rode bareback horses from time to time, earning two PRCA Linderman Awards for excelling at both ends of the arena. As a youngster, he competed in all six events for boys at the International Youth Finals Rodeo.

“Maybe I can let them run some broncs in there,” he said jokingly about the Lazy E competition, now in its 29th year.

Outhier is among an elite field of combatants battling for the $150,000 purse, joining 17-time world champion Trevor Brazile, a six-time Timed Event Championship winner; K.C. Jones, a five-time winner and the reigning champion; ProRodeo Hall of Famers Paul Tierney and Jimmie Cooper, who own multiple TEC titles; two-time champs Kyle Lockett and Daniel Green; and Josh Peek, the 2010 winner.

These are the best of the best, including reigning PRCA world champions like Chad Masters and Jade Corkill and three-time Linderman Award winner Trell Etbauer, another Oklahoma-raised cowboy who brings a lifetime of all-around talent into the mix.

Trell Etbauer

Trell Etbauer

“It’s tough to be able to work all the events and to do it competitively,” said Etbauer, the son of two-time world champion bronc rider Robert Etbauer and nephew of five-time champ Billy Etbauer. “You’re roping against Trevor and all these other guys that have been there. If you can come out and win that thing, it would be something. It would be a lot like winning the world championship.”

The gold buckle earned for the Timed Event title is one of the most coveted trophies in all of rodeo, even for guys that have made a significant living riding broncs.

“I think it’s pretty special to have a bronc rider in the Timed Event Championship,” Outhier said. “Hopefully I represent them well. I plan to just fly in there under the radar and hope I catch everything. You don’t have to be fast at that thing, but you have to be smart. I’ve roped my whole life, so my goal is to catch 20 steers and throw down five more. Hopefully I can do that.”

That’s the goal of all 20 combatants in rodeo’s most unique event. First place earns the lion’s share of $50,000, but there’s another $100,000 out there for the taking. It’s vitally important to have the right frame of mind when it comes tackling each discipline in all five rounds through the rugged weekend test.

“I just want to treat it like the practice pen and get them all down,” said Etbauer, who won the college steer wrestling championship as a freshman at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in his hometown of Goodwell. “I like doing more than one event, so I hope it fits me pretty well.

“When I junior rodeoed, I entered pretty much everything I could enter. That’s just how Daddy was. You need to work as many events as you can, and your horses need to be where you can work them in more than one event. When Daddy, Danny and Billy were in high school, they pretty much did every event, so that’s what we grew up doing, too.”

It shows in Trell Etbauer’s years of excellence. Now he’ll put it to the biggest test of his lifetime against the greatest timed-event cowboys in the land.

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