Archive for March, 2013

postheadericon RNCFR cowboys ready for Carr animals

OKLAHOMA CITY – One of the drawing cards for elite cowboys competing in championship rodeos is the chance to test their talents with unbelievable animal athletes.

For men who ride bareback horses, saddle broncs and bulls, the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo is a perfect place to showcase their abilities against many of the greatest bucking beasts in the business. They’ll take their shots during the three-day rodeo, set for April 4-6 at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

Taos Muncy

Taos Muncy

“We’ll have good horses there, and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Taos Muncy, a two-time world champion from Corona, N.M. “It’s going to be pretty good watching.”

Muncy would love to win the saddle bronc riding national championship, one of the titles that has eluded him. But there are 24 contestants fighting for the prestigious titles in each event, and they’ll all go into battle on some of the greatest animal athletes in the game, including 26 that come from Carr Pro Rodeo and Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo.

This is the first ProRodeo championship event for the two firms since Pete Carr purchased Classic Pro Rodeo last month. The herd features two Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Bareback Horses of the Year, Real Deal in 2005 and Big Tex in 2010.

Jesse James Kirby

Jesse James Kirby

In 2011, four-time world champion Bobby Mote won the bareback riding national title after posting a 90-point ride on Big Tex. A year ago, two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Sam Spreadborough posted an 86-point ride on Big Tex to win the RNCFR’s saddle bronc riding title – the bay gelding continues to be one of the top saddle broncs in the game, having just guided Tyler Corrington to the San Antonio championship last month.

“By buying Classic, Pete added a bunch of great horses to his mix,” Muncy said. “Pete’s just trying to make his program really good. It’s unbelievable that we’ll have that many good horses together. It’s going to be amazing.”

Muncy isn’t the only RNCFR qualifier to think so.

“You can’t ask for anything better than to show up at a rodeo and get on that caliber of horses,” said saddle bronc rider Jesse James Kirby, a three-time RNCFR qualifier from Dodge City, Kan. “It’s great that two great firms can come together like that and build a program that’s even bigger and better than it was.”

Bobby Mote

Bobby Mote

In all, Carr owns more than 70 animals that have been selected to perform at the NFR, 31 of which bucked in Las Vegas this past December.

“Pete obviously has the intent to have a real quality rodeo company,” said Mote, a 12-time NFR qualifier from Culver, Ore. “He wants to have the kind of horses that cowboys want to get on. I think having those two companies together is going to help some of the rodeos where need more depth in good horses.”

That means a high quality show in each town Carr animals will perform.

“From a cowboy’s standpoint, I think it’s good,” Mote said. “The fact that Pete is the one that is taking over is just going to increase the contestants’ odds when they enter a rodeo, which, in turn, is going to help the committees.”

Animals from Carr Pro Rodeo and
Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo at
Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo
Oklahoma City, April 4-6
Bareback Horses: Real Deal, Dirty Jacket, Alberta Child, Island Girl, Collins Pride, Cool Change, Outa Sight, Wise Guy, Lady’s Man, Good Time Charlie, Rocky, Disco and Ragin Angel.
Saddle Broncs: Miss Congeniality, True Lies, Mike & Ike, Cool Runnings, Empty Pockets, Cowboy Cowtown, Gold Coast, Poker Face and Big Tex.
Bulls: Morning After, Private Eyes, Missing Parts and The Warden.

postheadericon RNCFR trivia contest coming next week

2013-NFRlogoDo you want a chance to win tickets to the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo? You’ll have your chance during the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for Thursday, April 4-Saturday, April 6, at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

The RNCFR will be conducting social media trivia contests each performance, set for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The questions will be posted on Twitter and Facebook pages for the RNCFR and the Lazy E Arena. Two NFR tickets, courtesy of Las Vegas Events, are the premier prize, but there are other items available for those who know their rodeo trivia.

Winners must be in attendance at State Fair Arena when the question is posted and must provide the answer to the chosen representative in order to claim the prize.

postheadericon Benton seeking first major title

OKLAHOMA CITY – Many special things that happened to Trey Benton III in 2012.

He qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the first time. He was named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Bull Riding Rookie of the Year. He won the year-end title in the Texas Circuit.

Trey Benton III

Trey Benton III

It was the latter that earned him the right to compete at the 2013 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 5; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

“I had an awesome rookie year, and this is awesome to be able to compete at this event,” said Benton, 21, of Rock Island, Texas. “I had a great year in Texas; I won close to $30,000 just in Texas.

“Now we’ve just got to get that national title.”

Now he’s part of the 24-man field that will test their mettle against the toughest bulls in in the business as they battle to earn ProRodeo’s National Championship. And for his part, Benton has already proven to be one of the elite cowboys in the game.

2012-RNCFR-LogoBenton earned $117,400 last season, winning 10 rodeos; two of those were in his home circuit, in Mercedes, Texas, and Seguin, Texas. But he also earned good money at rodeos in San Angelo, Texas, and Austin, Texas. Those were big moves that helped him qualify for Oklahoma City.

He suffered a torn ACL toward the end of last season but still competed at the NFR. This year, he’s down the money list, partly due to missing six weeks of competition after surgery to repair broken bones in his face.

“I was itching to go and ready to go by the time I was cleared to ride,” he said. “As soon as I got back, one of my traveling partners got hurt, but other than that, I’ve been gunning to go hard.

Now Benton hopes his outstanding rookie season rolls in an amazing sophomore campaign. He has a chance to make a significant point when he rides in Oklahoma City next week.

“I know it’s going to be as competitive as any other,” he said. “There are always going to be great guys rodeoing. Professional rodeo is as good as it gets.”

postheadericon Trail riders bring history to Pioneer Days

GUYMON, Okla. – For as long as Taylor Rankin can remember, he has taken part in the annual trail drive from Elkhart, Kan., to Guymon for Pioneer Days.

In fact, this year’s drive will mark the 23rd time in Taylor Rankin’s life that he has been horseback for the cross-country ride. He’s just 22 years old.

Yes, he was just a month and a half shy of his first birthday the first time he sat in the saddle with his mother, Melinda Rankin, one of the organizers of the Point Rock Riders. She’s been taking part in the annual trail drive since 1985, when she and her husband, Troy, rode together for the first time as newlyweds.

Guymon Pioneer Days LogoThey will return to Texas County during the two-day drive from May 2-3 to again be part of the Guymon Pioneer Days celebration, including the community’s championship rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 5.

“This is our only family vacation,” said Rankin, who, with Troy, has been one of the organizers for the past two decades. “We take the time off from work for this and our county fair. You get to just sit and relax, and you get to visit with your neighbors that you don’t get to see much throughout the year.”

They also continue a longstanding tradition for those from Morton County, Kan. The first drive took place in 1948, organized by group called the Elkhart Trail Riders. The drive features a varied size group, from a few dozen to as many as 250 people participating.

The Point Rock Riders leave Elkhart on Thursday morning, stopping a few hours later for lunch at an area farm. From there, they will continue the trek southeast, stopping for the night in a ranch’s pasture northwest of Guymon. When the Rankins first began the trail ride nearly three decades ago, many participants utilized tents to sleeping in the back of horse trailers during the campout. Now a number utilize RVs and more comfortable accommodations.

“I think it’s an important part of the Western lifestyle,” Melinda Rankin said. “It’s family oriented, and we want to keep it that way. Whether you’re enjoying a nice, pretty day or fighting the dirt blowing, you enjoy yourself and your time on the ride.

“We’ve been rained on, ridden through sleet and snow. The wind’s blown 60 miles an hour. Usually it’s so dry that time of year, we’re just spitting dirt the whole time, and there have been plenty of times when we’ve all had sunburns. But no matter what, we’re going to go.”

Part of it is the legacy that was created 65 years ago when the Elkhart Trail Riders rode to Guymon to be part of the Pioneer Days Parade.

“It’s just who I am,” Melinda Rankin said. “It’s tradition, and you get to shut off what’s going on at home and just being a group. We’re a family. We’re all close. There are several people that come from other towns, but still they belong.

“We have a common thing; we like to ride, and we love our animals. This is where we can leave work and go do what we love for a few days.”

The group votes on the Point Rock Riders queen, king, prince and princess each year, and those are the younger members who lead the group along the Pioneer Days Parade route.

The riders try to arrive in Guymon around 11 a.m. Friday, then they will take in many of the Pioneer Days festivities. They will gather at the Texas County Activity Center for the annual Rotary Club Barbecue. They will take in the carnival, the mercantile and rodeo, while also being a major piece of the parade.

“We get rooms every year, and most of us stay in Guymon all weekend,” Melinda Rankin said. “It’s something we all look forward to every year.”

postheadericon Shiozawa is ready to defend title

OKLAHOMA CITY – A year ago, Matt Shiozawa walked into State Fair Arena just a few months removed from winning the tie-down roping average championship at the 2011 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Matt Shiozawa

Matt Shiozawa

He parlayed that momentum into a solid run through the 2012 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, then turned on the heat during the final round to win his second National Championship – he also won the title in 2008. In all, the Chubbuck, Idaho, cowboy left the Sooner State with more than $12,500.

Now Shiozawa returns to Oklahoma City for the sixth straight time in his career. He brings quite a pedigree to the RNCFR, which has five performances set for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 5; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

2012-RNCFR-LogoHe will be joined by 23 other top-level tie-down ropers representing the 12 ProRodeo circuits from all over the country. The field includes some of the top weekend warriors in the game, cowboys who excel at rodeos closer to their homes. But the pack also includes several cowboys who have been regulars at the NFR: Oklahoman Hunter Herrin, Utahan Jake Hannum, and Texans Adam Gray and Scott Kormos.

And that’s what makes ProRodeo’s National Championship such a special event. It’s a true showcase of tremendous talent, of men who know the fortitude it takes to compete at a top-level event.

Tie-down ropers rely on tremendous roping ability coupled with outstanding horsemanship. Compare the skills to a long-range shooter in the NBA: The top 3-point shooter in the association makes around 45 percent of his attempts; a tie-down roper must be accurate, all while chasing a running calf while atop a speeding horse. If a cowboy is less than 90 percent accurate, he’ll go home broke.

The best of the best will compete at the RNCFR. That’s why so many are so excited to be part of this historic event, and why they want to win that elusive National Title.

postheadericon Donnell discusses his work agent in articles

Mike Donnell is passionate about his business. He represents rodeo contestants, trying to help clients obtain sponsorships that are a vital part of the sport.

Donnell has penned a two-part series for Rodeo Fame magazine discussing the role of a sponsorship agent in rodeo. He owns Donnell Rodeo Promotions, which has been representing contestants and associations for a decade.

“I actually contacted the editors of the magazine a year or so ago to discuss their interest in an article on the contestants I represent,” Donnell said. “We began discussing my role in the sport, and they asked if I would write an article about it, so I agreed.”

The first of the two stories will appear in the spring 2013 edition. In the articles, Donnell will attempt to answer five questions: 1) What four options do rodeo contestants have in adding sponsors? 2) What can an agent provide a contestant to attract sponsors? 3) How does an agent market a contestant’s availability and value to prospective sponsors? 4) How should an agent-contestant representation agreement be structured? 5) What should the relationship be between an agent and other sponsors a contestant may already have?

“I hope others with experience in the sport will read the story and realize that if they follow these guidelines, they, too, could serve as agents,” said Donnell, who acknowledged the article might provide opportunities to represent more contestants. “We have a lot more talented contestants than we have agents to represent them.”

postheadericon Whiplash ready to ride in OKC

Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey will be one of the featured pieces of entertainment during the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for April 4-6 at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey will be one of the featured pieces of entertainment during the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for April 4-6 at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

Lucia and his Cowboy Monkey will be featured act at National Circuit Finals

OKLAHOMA CITY – The long list of world champions coming to Oklahoma City the first weekend in April is being overshadowed by one of the most popular “cowboys” in rodeo.

Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey will be the featured performer during the 2013 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, with five performances set for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 5; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

2012-RNCFR-Logo“It’s pretty amazing to be asked to work an event like that,” said Tommy Lucia, one of the top showmen in rodeo and Whiplash’s handler. “I’m very privileged to be part of it because it has the best cowboys and cowgirls and the best livestock in rodeo.

“It’s second to the National Finals (Rodeo) as far as the contestants and livestock that will be seen.”

Lucia should know. He’s worked some of the biggest events in the sport, including the NFR.

“I’ve been in the PRCA over 40 years,” Lucia said. “In fact, I clowned the National Finals when it was in Oklahoma City.”

Lucia has done much in his lifetime, from riding bulls and bareback horses to working as a bullfighter and rodeo clown. That was all before he became one of the most sought-after specialty acts in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association – he has been recognized as one of the best in the business, and Lucia was recognized as the PRCA’s Entertainer of the Year three straight times, from 2003-05.

But that’s nothing compared to the daily tasks he has of working with animals, including one of the most popular stars in rodeo.

“My feeling is God has a purpose for me, and animals fit into that,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate. I have animals that are above the norm, and we put on an excellent show for audiences of all ages. I know our success is due to God, because we have a monkey that is so well loved by millions of people. I like to see my animals perform and do well and see that the spectators enjoy it.”

The act centers on Whiplash riding a Border collie as the tandem rounds up wild Barbados sheep and pens them.

“We’ve performed in front of stars of all sorts at all kinds of events,” Lucia said. “He’s got a way of affecting the audience, because he rides in a way that shows he likes it. Our dogs are top working dogs, and I’m imported many of them from Scotland. The show we put on is of highly skilled animals.

“I’m more of a prop for them.”

It works, and it sounds like a great fit for ProRodeo’s National Championship, which features the top contestants in each event from the 12 circuits. The competition will be a showcase of extraordinary talent, from the very best weekend warriors in the country to the sport’s most renowned champions; all will by vying for a purse of more than $550,000.

When you combine that athletic talent with the tremendous entertainment featuring Lucia, Whiplash and concerts from Thompson Square (on Friday evening) and Chris Cagle (Saturday), it makes for an amazing opportunity for fans looking for the perfect show in central Oklahoma.

“I think there’s just so much for the spectators that they’ll be able to enjoy the entire rodeo,” Lucia said.

postheadericon Cowboys take classic shot at RNCFR

OKLAHOMA CITY – Saddle bronc riding is considered the classic event in rodeo.

2012-RNCFR-LogoIt’s the first thing most folks think about when they hear the word “rodeo” – it brings out the image of breaking a wild horse. There’s a reason why it stands as a symbol and why it’s prominent in the logo of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

The men who do it well showcase true athleticism, and they’ll put on quite a show during the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 5; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

“We’ll have good horses there, and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Taos Muncy, a two-time world champion from Corona, N.M. “I’d really like to win it someday. I’ve been second there three times, so winning it is one of my goals.”

Taos Muncy

Taos Muncy

It’s admirable. Muncy has reached the pinnacle in his chosen event, the first time in 2007 just six months after he won the collegiate bronc riding title while studying at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. He won his second championship in 2011. Now he’s ready to stake claim on ProRodeo’s National Championship.

“It’s always a tough event,” Muncy said of the RNCFR. “You’ve got guys that are going down the road full time, but there are some guys in there that don’t go as hard, but they can dang sure beat you any time.”

Jesse James Kirby has yet to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but this marks the third time he’s competed at the national circuit finals.

“You get to compete against the top guys and get on some of the best bucking horses,” said Kirby, the year-end Prairie Circuit champion from Dodge City, Kan. “You get a shot for the bonus of a ($20,000) voucher for a Ram truck, and you can win some good money to help you through the rest of the spring.

“When you get on top-notch horses that go to the NFR every year, it just makes you that much better and gives you a taste of what it’s like throughout the year. It’s a good one to have on your resume.”

postheadericon Pickup men are rodeo’s true cowboys

Jerome Schneeberger, right, works as a pickup man at a recent college rodeo in Hays, Kan. Schneeberger, a two-time tie-down roping champion at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, will serve as one of the pickup men at this year's rodeo in the Oklahoma Panhandle. He will be joined by Jeremy Hight and Matt Scott. (PHOTO BY TED HARBIN)

Jerome Schneeberger, right, works as a pickup man at a recent college rodeo in Hays, Kan. Schneeberger, a two-time tie-down roping champion at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, will serve as one of the pickup men at this year’s rodeo in the Oklahoma Panhandle. He will be joined by Jeremy Hight and Matt Scott. (PHOTO BY TED HARBIN)

GUYMON, Okla. – Each spring, tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger makes his way to the Oklahoma Panhandle to compete at one of his favorite rodeos.

Schneeberger, an 11-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Ponca City, Okla., is a two-time champion of the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo. He expects to make it three this year when the rodeo takes place April 29-May 5 at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena. But he’s got more to do than any other competitor in the field.

Guymon Pioneer Days LogoYou see, Schneeberger will serve as one of three pickup men at the annual rodeo, now in its 81st year. In addition to handling many of the behind-the-scenes duties that help make the rodeo happen, he will join Matt Scott of Cody, Wyo., and Jeremy Hight of Carthage, Texas, to assist cowboys who ride bucking horses and bulls for a living.

“It feels good to me that someone calls me to pick up, especially a rodeo like Guymon,” Schneeberger said. “Maybe I’ll get a chance to work the NFR.”

Pickup men are mostly recognized in bareback riding and saddle bronc riding, where they ride alongside the bucking beasts at the end of a ride to help the cowboys get off their mounts unscathed. It takes a special sort of cowboy to handle the tasks, one who understands livestock, is a great horseman and can rope better than many who actually compete.

“When you have someone good to pick up with, it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I enjoy the lifestyle. I enjoy the work. I’ve always enjoyed being around it ever since I was a kid.”

This will be the first time for all three cowboys to work the Guymon rodeo. Scott has been picking up in some form or fashion for the last decade, while Hight began the job just four years ago. Nonetheless, they’ve got a good handle on what it takes to do the job well.

“I started doing it so I had something to fall back on when I was done riding broncs,” said Scott, 30. “I got to where I enjoyed it more than I did riding broncs, so I just went from there. In 2005, I quit riding broncs and went to picking up all the time.”

Hight has never ridden broncs; not on purpose, anyway.

“I grew up around some amateur rodeos, but I never did really rodeo. I was more of a cowboy, working at ranches,” he said. “I went to Texas A&M and stayed down there for five or six years working for big ranches. I came back here (to Carthage), because my grandfather has a little ranch. I’ve been working with that and picking up.”

Now he’ll get to work one of the most prestigious rodeos in the land, one that has been recognized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association as rodeo of the year.

“Guymon is one of those places you hear about, a place you want to go,” Hight said. “You want to pick up at good rodeos and work with good committees. That’s what makes it fun, because you’re going to see a 90-point bareback ride or a 90-point bull ride.

“Those are fun places to go, and I have the best seat in the house.”

The pickup men might be the most important cowboys in the arena throughout a rodeo, but it’s best that they’re not recognized. Their primary tasks are to keep cowboys as safe as possible while also helping with the overall production. They knew the necessity of getting the animals out of the arena in quick fashion after each ride and run.

That’s why they’re a valuable piece of the puzzle for well-produced rodeos. Pickup men are in the arena from start to finish, but if all goes well, they’re hardly seen by fans.

“It’s a big arena, and it’s a long week, so I know it’ll take some horses to get through it all,” Schneeberger said. “I know it’ll be a lot of work. I’m not opposed to that at all. I just hope the weather is nice.”

No matter the conditions, the rodeo will go on. All three pickup men know they have an important job to perform.

“It’s a big deal for me to work one of the bigger rodeos like Guymon, which has a lot of history behind it,” Scott said. “It’s a big honor for me.”

postheadericon Thompson leads Rangers to high finish

ALVA, Okla. – Jared Thompson is experiencing a dose of tunnel-vision right now.

With three rodeos remaining in the 2012-13 season, Thompson sits in third place in the steer wrestling standings in the Central Plains Region. Only the top three contestants in each event in the circuit qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo, a destination that shines brightly in Thompson’s mind.

Jared Thompson

Jared Thompson

“I’d settle for staying where I am in the standings now, but I’d prefer to move up a spot,” said Thompson, a senior from Everly, Iowa.

Thompson moved up a spot from fourth after winning the Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College last weekend. He scored a 5.1-second run to finish fifth in the long round; his 5.2 placed in a tie for third in the short go-round. His cumulative total of 10.3 seconds was half a second faster than the runner-up, Blair Jones of Fort Hays (Kan.) State University.

“Some of those steers were really good, but some of them weren’t,” he said. “It moved me up and keeps me alive for the college finals.”

Thompson was the leading force behind the Northwestern men’s second-place team finish in Fort Scott. Only the top two schools in the region qualify their entire teams for the college finals, which will take place in Casper, Wyo., in June – two men’s teams and two women’s teams.

“We really have stepped up our men’s team the last couple weeks,” Thompson said. “If we’d been performing like this in the fall, we’d be winning the region.”

Thompson has stepped up his game, too. After missing the spring season a year ago because of an injury, the Iowa cowboy has returned to the top of the game. His win in Fort Scott is the second victory this season – he also won the first rodeo of the season in Colby, Kan.

“I’d like to get 300 more points over the last three rodeos,” he said, pointing to high finishes in the last few events of the season. “Winning all three would make me happy, but I’d be happy with getting those points and moving up another spot in the standings.”

Northwestern had eight men and two women make the championship round in Fort Scott, including two team roping tandems. Ethan McDowell and Chase Johnson finished second as one of three teams to have qualified times on two runs. They finished with a cumulative time of 14.6 seconds, while Travis Cowan and Brice Buzzard were fourth, having stopped the clock in 6.8 seconds in the first round.

Thompson was joined in the steer wrestling short round by Ryan Domer, while tie-down ropers Clayton Kolb and Jess Woodward earned points for the team; Kolb finished his two-run aggregate in 19.7 seconds to place third. The women were led by goat-tier Trisha Price, who finished second with a cumulative time of 15.5 seconds, and breakaway roper Jessica Koppitz, who finished in 6.2 seconds on two runs.

The women remain in second place in the Central Plains team standings with three rodeos remaining on the schedule. They will compete next April 11-13 at the Southwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo in Weatherford, Okla.

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