Archive for May, 2013

postheadericon Carr animal athletes ready to perform

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Jason Havens rides Pete Carr's Classic Pro Rodeo's Good Time Charlie for 86 points to finish second in Guymon, Okla., in early May. Good Time Charlie is one of many outstanding animal athletes owned by Pete Carr's Classic and Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock firms that will produce the Wild, Wild West Pro Rodeo. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Jason Havens rides Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Good Time Charlie for 86 points to finish second in Guymon, Okla., in early May. Good Time Charlie is one of many outstanding animal athletes owned by Pete Carr’s Classic and Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock firms that will produce the Wild, Wild West Pro Rodeo. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

SILVER CITY, N.M. – The tree-lined grassland in east Texas is home to some of the greatest bucking animals in rodeo.

In the coming days, those majestic animals will arrive in Grant County to be a major part of the showcase that is the Wild, Wild West Pro Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Thursday, June 6-Saturday, June 8, at Southwest Horseman’s Park. When they arrive in Silver City, they’ll be ready to perform.

Pete Carr

Pete Carr

“They’re all bred to buck, and even though they all have different personalities, they’re ready to go,” said Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo and Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo, two elite livestock producers in the sport. “By getting on the truck, they know they’re going to go buck. They’re pretty eager to get on the truck.”

They’re pretty good, too. In fact, the Carr firms accounted for 31 animals that were selected to buck at the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand championship that takes place each December in Las Vegas. In all, more than 70 NFR animals make their home on Carr property about 900 miles east of Silver City.

“These animals thrive on this,” Carr said. “It’s just like people. When somebody feels good, they’re happy and they’re upbeat. They carry themselves differently.

“It’s the same with a horse. When a bucking horse knows he’s going to get to buck, he gets excited, and he’s ready to go.”

This year the Carr firms will produce 33 rodeos in 13 states, and they’ll have the type of power that’s a major draw for the sport’s top cowboys.

Matt Bright

Matt Bright

“The thing about Pete Carr’s rodeos is that when you go to one, you know you’re going to get a chance to win first,” said bareback rider Matt Bright, a three-time NFR qualifier from Azle, Texas. “A lot of guys don’t have that.

“I really respect that guy a lot, because he used to be a bareback rider himself. I think that’s why he’s got such a good pen of bareback horses. He knows what kinds of horses guys can win on.”

Fans in Silver City know what kind of animal athletes come to town every June. Three years ago, Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo horse Big Tex helped bareback rider Tilden Hooper to a world record-tying 94-point ride inside Southwest Horseman’s Park. Big Tex went on to be named the 2010 Bareback Horse of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

In fact, three Carr horses have earned that title: Real Deal won in 2005, and MGM Deuces Night earned the title last year. The Carr roster also includes River Boat Annie, the 2007 reserve world champion bareback horse; Dirty Jacket, the 2012 runner-up reserve world champion bareback horse; and Grass Dancer, which guided bareback rider Ryan Gray to record-tying 94-point ride in 2009 at Eagle, Colo.

“Pete has a list of really good animals,” said saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy, a two-time world champion. “That’s what’s great about going to his rodeos; you know you’re going to get a good horse.”

postheadericon Pecos rodeo hosts Gizmo’s personalities

Gizmo McCracken and his 'gizmos and gadgets' will be part of the featured entertainment at the 2013 West of the Pecos Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 26-Saturday, June 29, in Pecos, Texas.

Gizmo McCracken and his ‘gizmos and gadgets’ will be part of the featured entertainment at the 2013 West of the Pecos Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 26-Saturday, June 29, in Pecos, Texas.

PECOS, Texas – Dale McCracken has multiple personalities, but it’s not a disorder.

It’s quite the opposite, really. Like a superhero donning his cape, McCracken covers his face with greasepaint and enters the world of his alter-ego, Gizmo, the funnyman/barrelman who has entertained rodeo crowds for much of his life. It’s as if Dale drives and Gizmo does all the work, but it works well for McCracken.

“The guy that wears the makeup gets paid better, that’s for sure,” said McCracken, who will be one of the featured acts at the West of the Pecos Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 26-Saturday, June 29, at Buck Jackson Arena. “The name came along several years ago. I worked on a music show in Branson (Mo.) for about eight years, and there you’ve got to have a stage name.

“So with all the gizmos and gadgets I had, they came up with the name, ‘Gizmo, the Ozarks Greatest Inventor.’ So instead of selling a particular act, I sell a character.”

That character carries on several personas, but they’re all comedic. During much of the rodeo, he’ll do what is called the “walk and talk,” sharing his comedy with the audiences each night of the three-performance rodeo.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff planned for Pecos,” said McCracken, still referring, possibly, to his multiple personalities. “It’s been awhile since we’ve been there, but we’ve got a lot of friends and fans there. It’s always good to go to a rodeo where you see a bunch of fans.

“The big thing we do is the ‘walk and talk,’ and we work it from the hello to the end. I’ll bring out a lot of characters throughout the rodeo, because I think if you come for more than one night, you should see the different characters.”

McCracken returns to Pecos after a successful run last June, but he’s got enough in his bag of tricks to show the fans something special, something fresh. Besides, he likes working in West Texas.

“I’m just ready for some good, hot weather,” he said. “We’ve been in so much cold and rain so far this year that we’re looking forward to getting to Pecos.

“It’s a huge arena, but the way it’s laid out, everybody’s got a good seat. That is a great crowd. They pay attention to what we do, and they love rodeo. It’s a lot of fun.”

McCracken joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1992 and has earned several honors in that time: he’s worked several PRCA circuit championships and has been a nominee for the association’s Comedy Act of the Year.

At each rodeo, there are a variety of duties for McCracken. As a comedian, he will interact with the crowd throughout each performance and put on skits that tend to leave fans in stitches. During bull riding, he continues to provide comedic relief as well as a necessary tool for the bull riders, bullfighters and others that are in the arena.

“First of all when I’m in the barrel, my best friend is Jesus, and my second best friend is the barrel,” he said. “It’s your safe haven there a lot. It also has its important part for cowboys and bullfighters to use, a place for them to go in the arena if they’re in a bind. That barrel is like that one tree out in the middle of the desert that gives you a little protection.”

And it’s also a heavy object with which some of the feistier bucking beasts love to play. So what’s it like for McCracken to be hit with that much force?

“It’s like getting into an aluminum trashcan and put into the back of a pickup going down the road at 35 miles per hour,” he said. “Then when you get up to speed, you have your buddy throw you out of the pickup, and you just bounce along down the road.

“The first time they hit you, it’s like a carnival ride. Then they hit you again, and it’s more like a car accident that turns into a carnival ride. It’s a pretty exciting tilt-o-whirl.”

So is McCracken’s life as a rodeo clown. He spends many weeks on the road, working events in several states, but he loves what he does. He enjoys the crowds and the excitement that comes with rodeo, and loves to see the smiles and hear the laughter.

“I really enjoy seeing people have a good time,” McCracken said. “Maybe there’s a guy that’s had it pretty rough, is struggling some. If we can just get him to the rodeo and use our last American heritage sport to help him forget his troubles, then he’s had a good night, and we, as a rodeo, have had a good night, too. Laughter is pretty good medicine, and the way things are right now, everybody needs a shot.”

postheadericon Carr bringing power to Silver City rodeo

SILVER CITY, N.M. – Southwestern New Mexico is picturesque, sitting on the edge of the Gila National Forest. It’s a beautiful setting for a piece of Americana, the Wild Wild West Pro Rodeo, where onlookers will see the incredible feats of amazing animal athletes. They’ll see that the beauty of a bucking horse comes from its power.

SilverCityPicThey’ll also see the beauty and power of Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo and Carr Pro Rodeo, the premier livestock producers in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. The Carr crew will be bringing the power to the Wild Wild West Pro Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Thursday, June 6-Saturday, June 8, at Southwest Horseman’s Park.

“Pete Carr is one of the premier stock contractors in the world,” said saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss, a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Heflin, La. “Pete taking it another step further is amazing to me. It’s just going to make it better for everybody.”

That’s the idea. The two firms are established and have been recognized for years as the elite among livestock producers. This spring, Carr made put everything together by purchasing Classic.

“I’m combining two of the best crews in rodeo to form one of the greatest rodeo companies,” Carr said. “I’m excited about the new opportunities that are ahead for the company. I want committees to know we have a lot to offer them. We’re going to have unprecedented resources for all the rodeos, which will benefit everyone involved: committees, sponsors, contestants and spectators.”

The contestants who make their living in the sport recognize the impact of the Carr firms.

Heith DeMoss

Heith DeMoss

“Pete has such an array of horse now that no matter where he goes, he will have it to where everybody has a chance to win money,” DeMoss said. “It’s a riding contest instead of a drawing contest, and that’s what Pete’s got in his mind to do. I’m behind him all the way.”

DeMoss won the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo on Pete Carr’s Classic’s Spur Strap, so he knows the kind of horse power it takes to be successful. He’s not the only bronc rider who touts the athletic animals now owned by Pete Carr. Wade Sundell rode Pete Carr’s Classic’s Big Tex for 90 points in February to win the $50,000 round at RodeoHouston.

“Pete’s got a heck of a string put together,” said Sundell, a four-time NFR qualifier from Boxholm, Iowa. “There are not a lot of people that can match him anymore.”

Sundell also fared well in Guymon two weeks ago, matching moves with Carr Pro Rodeo’s Miss Congeniality for 85 points to finish in a tie for second. He recognizes the importance of riding great horses throughout the year if he hopes to win the elusive world championship.

Steven Peebles

Steven Peebles

“It’s awesome when you have a good horse underneath you, because you know something good is going to happen,” he said.

That’s a major factor in why cowboys loving going to Carr-produced rodeos like Silver City.

“There are a lot of rodeos that are going to be hard to beat because of what Pete Carr brings to the table,” said bareback rider Steven Peebles, a four-time NFR qualifier from Redmond, Ore. “Pete has raised the bar in rodeo. He’ll have better horses and better production.”

This is about giving spectators with the best entertainment value while serving the committees with elite performances and providing contestants with the best opportunities.

postheadericon Kastner scores victory in Claremore

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Bull rider Trevor Kastner has almost clinched his third straight qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Kastner, 25, of Ardmore, Okla., scored an 85-point ride on Sunday night on the Carr Pro Rodeo bull Fletch to win the Will Rogers Stampede, adding $1,740 and bringing his 2013 earnings to nearly $44,000; it’s not even June, when the summer run begins in ProRodeo and features numerous opportunities to add to those dollars.

Trevor Kastner

Trevor Kastner

“A month ago it was pretty slow,” said Kastner, the No. 3 bull rider in the world standings. “The past two weeks have been pretty good.”

Yes they have. Last week Kastner won the Elks Helldorado Days Rodeo in downtown Las Vegas and finished second at the Wrangler Champions Challenge in Redding, Calif. On Sunday, he matched his skills against a seasoned bull.

“I’d seen him quite a bit, but I’d never been on him,” Kastner said. “He’s usually a pretty good bull, and it turned out that way tonight. He’s just a little bit sluggish and built uphill, so he makes a guy have to try a little bit more.”

Besides competing at the NFR, Kastner is also a qualifier to the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, featuring the top 12 contestants from the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region. He joined tie-down roper Cole Wilson of Kincaid, Kan., as Prairie Circuit finalists who found their way to the winner’s circle on the final night of Claremore’s rodeo.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Wilson, who shared the calf roping title with Oklahoman Trent Creager; both cowboys roped and tied their calves in 8.6 seconds and earned $1,506 each. “I have a house payment and a truck payment, and we’re entered up for the rest of the week so this is going to soften the blow to the bank for sure.”

It marked the first time the 23-year-old Kansan had cashed a check from Claremore.

“I like to come to Claremore every year,” Wilson said. “It’s usually got pretty good odds and some pretty good calves, and the pay is pretty good, too.

“My blue horse is back this year. He’s been hurt all last summer and all winter. It gives you a little confidence heading into the summer.”

 

Claremore, Okla.
May 24-26
Results
Bareback riding:
1. Bill Tutor, 85 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket, $1,270; 2. (tie) Jared Smith and Tim O’Connell, 83, $827 each; 4. Caine Riddle, 81, $462; 5. Justin McDaniel and Kyle Brennecke, 80, $231 each.

Steer wrestling: 1. Shane Henderson, 4.2 seconds, $1,939; 2. Matt Reeves, 4.7, $1,686; 3. Royce Johnson, 4.9, $1,433; 4. (tie) Tooter Silver, Teddy Johnson and Jason Thomas, 5.3, $927 each; 7. (tie) Alan Frierson, Ryan Swayze and Tommy Cook, 5.4, $197 each.

Tie-down roping: 1. (tie) Trent Creager and Cole Wilson, 8.6 seconds, $1,506; 3. Derrick Traylor, 9.2, 1,191; 3. Jared Kempker, 9.5, $981; 5. Jarod Branch, 9.7, $771; Tyler Garten, 9.8, $561; 7. (tie) Blake Deckard and Jerome Schneeberger, 9.9, $245 each.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Wade Sundell, 83 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Social Call, $1,254; 2. Ty Atchison, 82, $950; 3. Curtis Garton, 80; 4. Cody Hamm, 456; 5. (tie) Lance Wilson, Joseph Dean Lufkin and Cody Anthony, 78, $152 each.

Team roping: 1. A.J. Horton/Kyle Horton, 4.8 seconds, $1,994; 2. Drew Gartner/Tim Franzen, 4.9, $1,734; 3. Coleman Proctor/Jett Hillman, 5.2, $1,474; 4. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 5.4, $1,214; 5. Troy Boone/Tad Sheets, 5.7, $954; 6. (tie) Joe Macoubrie/Dawson McMaster and Mike Bacon/Joseph Harrison, 5.8, $563; 8. Casey Hicks/Cody Heflin, 5.9, $173.

Steer roping: First round: 1. J. Paul Williams, 10.6 seconds, $888; 2. Joe Wells, 10.7, $735; 3. Jay Sellers, 10.8, $582; 4. Trevor Brazile, 11.4, $429; 5. J.P. Wickett, 12.2, $276; 6. Chuck Thomson, 12.8, $153. Second round 1. Bryce Davis, 9.8 seconds, $888; 2. J. Tom Fisher, 11.3, $735; 3. Landon McClaugherty, 12.7, $582; 4. Rocky Patterson, 13.6, $429; 5. Vin Fisher Jr., 13.7, $276; 6. Pecos Bill McNiel, 13.8, $153. Third round leaders: 1. Trevor Brazile, 9.7 seconds, $888; 2. Cody Lee, 10.8, $735, 3. Jake DeGeer, 11.0, $582; 4. Chuck Thomson, 11.2, $429; 5. Chet Herren, 11.6, $276; 6. Vin Fisher Jr., 12.7, $153. Average leaders: 1. Jay Sellers and Vin Fisher Jr., 39.3 seconds on three runs, $1,217 each; 3. Cody Lee, 41.2, $873; 4. (tie) Rocky Patterson and J.P. Wickett, 43.2, $528; 6. C.A. Lauer, 45.7, $230.

Barrel racing: 1. Christy Loflin, 16.99 seconds, $1,912; 2. Carlee Pierce, 17;05, $1,639; 3. Cheyenne Kelly, 17.27, $1,367; 4. (tie) Shelley Morgan and Gretchen Benbenek, 17.41, $1,047; 6. Sandi Brandi, 17.42, $728; 7. Alexia Mehrle, 17.49, $546; 8. Sally Young, 17.50, $364; 9. $273; 10. (tie) Jessi Eagleberger and Michele McLeod, 17.53, $91 each.

Bull riding: 1. Trevor Kastner, 84 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Fletch, $1,740; 2. Trey Benton III, 82, $1,318; 3. (tie) Shawn Hogg and Bart Miller, 80, $791 each; 5. Guthrie Murray, 79, $369; 6. Dylan Werner, 71, $264.

postheadericon Rookie gets veteran help to lead rodeo

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Bill Tutor’s No. 1 goal in 2013 is to win the Bareback Riding Rookie of the Year title in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

The young cowboy got a big boost from a veteran bucking horse and moved closer toward that goal on Saturday night when he rode Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket for 85 points to take the bareback riding lead at the Will Rogers Stampede, with just one performance remaining at 7:45 p.m. Sunday.

“I got on him last year in Eagle, Colo.,” said Tutor, a 21-year-old cowboy from Huntsville, Texas. “I was 87 on him there. I felt like I rode him 10 times better tonight.”

The judges seemed to have liked it, but that’s been the case almost every time the horse has performed over the last five years. The 9-year-old bay gelding has been named one of the best bareback horses in ProRodeo; in 2012, he was named the runner-up reserve world champion.

“He’s just electric in himself,” Tutor said. “He stands out among the other horses. He’s way flashier, but he bucks to where he helps the rider out a lot. You have enough hang time to expose yourself.”

Judges mark half the score for the animal and half for the rider, and scores are on the 100-point scale.

“He’s gaining points himself, but he allows you to gain points yourself,” Tutor said.

He was one of two cowboys who moved into the lead on Saturday night, joining bull rider Trey Benton III. He rode Lancaster & Pickett Rodeo’s Short Stack for 82 points.

“I didn’t know much about the bull, but he started real good,” said Benton, the 2012 PRCA rookie of the year who qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo last December. “I wish he would’ve stayed left, but he went back right and flattened out a little bit. We made a good ride.”

Taking the lead in Claremore is a nice momentum-booster for the Rock Island, Texas, cowboy.

“I had a bad finals, and it got to me a little bit the beginning of the year,” Benton said. “Then I broke my face at Fort Worth, and I had to sit out two months after that. Now I’m coming back and starting to get on my grind, so it’s going good.

“You’ve got one goal when you go all year, and that’s to stay on all your bulls and they’ll pay you.”

Will Rogers Stampede
Claremore, Okla.
May 24-26
Leaders through second performance
Bareback riding:
1. Bill Tutor, 85 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket; 2. Jared Smith, 83; 3. Caine Riddle, 81; 4. Justin McDaniel, 80; 5. Colt Bruce, 79; 6. Richie Champion, 76.

Steer wrestling: 1. Shane Henderson, 4.2 seconds; 2. Matt Reeves, 4.7; 3. Royce Johnson, 4.9; 4. (tie) Tooter Silver, Teddy Johnson and Jason Thomas, 5.3; 7. (tie) Alan Frierson, Ryan Swayze and Tommy Cook, 5.4.

Tie-down roping: 1. Trent Creager, 8.6 seconds; 2. Derrick Traylor, 9.2; 3. Jared Kempker, 9.5; 4. Tyler Garten, 9.8; 5. (tie) Blake Deckard and Jerome Schneeberger, 9.9; 7. Jeff Miller, 10.5; 8. Cody McCartney, 10.7.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Wade Sundell, 83 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Social Call; 2. Curtis Garton, 80; 3. (tie) Lance Wilson and Cody Anthony, 78; 5. Alan Frierson, 77; 6. James Greeson, 75.

Team roping: 1. A.J. Horton/Kyle Horton, 4.8 seconds; 2. Coleman Proctor/Jett Hillman, 5.2; 3. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 5.4; 4. Troy Boone/Tad Sheets, 5.7; 5. (tie) Joe Macoubrie/Dawson McMaster and Mike Bacon/Joseph Harrison, 5.8; 7. Casey Hicks/Cody Heflin, 5.9; 8. Gavin Foster/Derrick Jantzen, 6.1.

Steer roping: First round: 1. J. Paul Williams, 10.6 seconds, $888; 2. Joe Wells, 10.7, $735; 3. Jay Sellers, 10.8, $582; 4. Trevor Brazile, 11.4, $429; 5. J.P. Wickett, 12.2, $276; 6. Chuck Thomson, 12.8, $153. Second round 1. Bryce Davis, 9.8 seconds, $888; 2. J. Tom Fisher, 11.3, $735; 3. Landon McClaugherty, 12.7, $582; 4. Rocky Patterson, 13.6, $429; 5. Vin Fisher Jr., 13.7, $276; 6. Pecos Bill McNiel, 13.8, $153. Third round leaders: 1. Trevor Brazile, 9.7 seconds; 2. Cody Lee, 10.8, 3. Jake DeGeer, 11.0; 4. Chuck Thomson, 11.2; 5. Chet Herren, 11.6; 6. Vin Fisher Jr., 12.7; 7. Landon McClaugherty, 13.0; 8. C.A. Lauer, 13.1. Average leaders: 1. (tie) Jay Sellers and Vin Fisher Jr., 39.9 seconds on three runs; 3. Cody Lee, 41.2; 4. (tie) Rocky Patterson and J.P. Wickett, 43.2; 6. C.A. Lauer, 45.7.

Barrel racing: 1. Christy Loflin, 16.99 seconds; 2. Carlee Pierce, 17;05; 3. Cheyenne Kelly, 17.27; 4. (tie) Shelley Morgan and Gretchen Benbenek, 17.41; 6. Sandi Brandi, 17.42; 7. Alexia Mehrle, 17.49; 8. Sally Young, 17.50; 9. Michele McLeod, 17.53; 10. Reann Zancanella, 17.56.

Bull riding: 1. Trey Benton III, 82 points on Lancaster & Pickett’s Short Stack; 2. Shawn Hogg, 80; 3. Guthrie Murray, 79; 4. Dylan Werner, 71; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Great action so far in Claremore

We’ve had two days of competition at the Will Rogers Stampede, and we’ve seen possibly the second fastest barrel racing run in the 67-year history of the Claremore, Okla., rodeo – Wrangler National  Finals Rodeo qualifier Christy Loflin posted a time of 16.99 seconds on Thursday morning; reserve world champion Carlee Pierce posted a 16.96 in 2011 to set the arena record.

Pierce is in Claremore and will run tonight. She is the two-time reigning Will Rogers Stampede champion.

We’ve had a lot of fast runs in the timed events, and we’re just kickstarting this Carr Pro Rodeo/Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo production. Tonight, Bill Tutor will get his chance to ride the great horse Dirty Jacket, the runner-up reserve world champion bareback horse in 2012. We’ll also see a lot of great NFR-caliber animals perform over final two performances, set for 7:45 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

But you can get a glimpse of the goings-on in the behind-the-scenes photos from the first two days. Click on the photo below, and you’ll see them.

CowboysDressingRoom-600

postheadericon Circuit contestants make move Friday

CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Will Rogers Stampede has been a major stop in the Prairie Circuit in the four decades the ProRodeo circuit system has been in place.

On Friday night at Will Rogers Round Up Club Arena, the circuit’s stars shined brightly. Bareback rider Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas; saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell of Coleman, Okla.; and steer wrestler Shane Henderson of Winfield, Kan., all to the leads in their respective events on the opening night of Claremore’s rodeo. They’ll have to wait out the results from the remaining two performances, set for 7:45 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Caine Riddle

Caine Riddle

“They changed stock contractors this year, and it gives everybody a bit more of a chance to win,” said Riddle, the No. 19 cowboy in the world standings who won the Will Rogers Stampede in 2011. “I drew at the top of the herd, and I rode good and felt good.”

Riddle scored 81 points Carr Pro Rodeo’s Outa Sight, an 8-year-old paint mare that has been selected to perform twice at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“This is a good rodeo,” he said. “I’ve been here six or seven times and have been successful at it.”

Riddle is joined by Henderson as a former Claremore champion – in fact, Henderson has earned the bulldogging title twice. He grappled his steer to the ground in 4.2 seconds and is five-tenths of a second faster than the second-place cowboy, Matt Reeves of Cross Plains, Texas.

Wade Sundell

Wade Sundell

“This is one of the better circuit rodeos we have,” said Henderson, a four-time Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo qualifier. “The money always helps. That’s a big bonus. It’s a really good goal to get to our circuit finals, and this is a big stepping stone to get to that.

“I think we’ve got the best cowboys and cowgirls in ProRodeo in our circuit.”

That includes Sundell, an Iowa-born cowboy who is competing in the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region for the first time in his career. He rode Carr Pro Rodeo’s Social Call for 83 points.

“Pete (Carr) said he was just a young horse and that I needed to give him some reign,” said Sundell, who has finished in the top five in the world standings each of the past three years. “It worked out good; I’m winning first, so I can’t complain.

Friday’s ride marked the first time in Sundell’s career that he had ridden in Claremore. In addition to winning the elusive world title, he hopes to qualify for the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo.

“Every time I nod my head, I’m trying to be 90 or nothing,” Sundell said. “I just need to stay healthy, and this is the best I’ve felt in a long time. Everybody better look out, because I’m coming from the back door.”

Will Rogers Stampede
Claremore, Okla.
May 24-26
Leaders through first performance
Bareback riding:
1. Caine Riddle, 81 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Outa Sight; 2. (tie) Tyler Pasour and Luke Creasy, 75; no other qualified rides.

Steer wrestling: 1. Shane Henderson, 4.2 seconds; 2. Matt Reeves, 4.7; 3. Royce Johnson, 4.9; 4. (tie) Teddy Johnson and Jason Thomas, 5.3; 6. (tie) Alan Frierson, Ryan Swayze and Tommy Cook, 5.4.

Tie-down roping: 1. Trent Creager, 8.6 seconds; 2. Jared Kempker, 9.5; 3. (tie) Blake Deckard and Jerome Schneeberger, 9.9; 5. Jeff Miller, 10.5; 6. Cody McCartney, 10.7; 7. Colby Dorsey, 11.2; 8. Scotty Shelton, 11.5.

Saddle bronc riding 1. Wade Sundell, 83 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Social Call; 2. Lance Wilson, 78; 3. Alan Frierson, 77; 4. Cody Goertzen, 74; 5. Blane Stacy, 72; 6. Clayton Zibell, 71.

Team roping: 1. A.J. Horton/Kyle Horton, 4.8 seconds; 2. Coleman Proctor/Jett Hillman, 5.2; 3. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 5.4; 4. (tie) Joe Macoubrie/Dawson McMaster and Mike Bacon/Joseph Harrison, 5.8; 6. Casey Hicks/Cody Heflin, 5.9; 7. Gavin Foster/Derrick Jantzen, 6.1; 8. Spencer Griffith/Jacob Griffith, 6.2.

Steer roping: First round: 1. J. Paul Williams, 10.6 seconds, $888; 2. Joe Wells, 10.7, $735; 3. Jay Sellers, 10.8, $582; 4. Trevor Brazile, 11.4, $429; 5. J.P. Wickett, 12.2, $276; 6. Chuck Thomson, 12.8, $153. Second round 1. Bryce Davis, 9.8 seconds, $888; 2. J. Tom Fisher, 11.3, $735; 3. Landon McClaugherty, 12.7, $582; 4. Rocky Patterson, 13.6, $429; 5. Vin Fisher Jr., 13.7, $276; 6. Pecos Bill McNiel, 13.8, $153. Third round leaders: 1. Trevor Brazile, 9.7 seconds; 2. Cody Lee, 10.8, 3. Jake DeGeer, 11.0; 4. Chuck Thomson, 11.2; 5. Chet Herren, 11.6; 6. Vin Fisher Jr., 12.7; 7. Landon McClaugherty, 13.0; 8. C.A. Lauer, 13.1. Average leaders: 1. Vin Fisher Jr., 39.3 seconds on three runs; 2. Cody Lee, 41.2; 3. (tie) Rocky Patterson and J.P. Wickett, 43.2; 5. C.A. Lauer, 45.7; 6. Landon McClaugherty, 46.6; 7. Justin McKee, 70.7; 8. Trevor Brazile, 21.1 on two runs.

Barrel racing: 1. Christy Loflin, 16.99 seconds; 2. Cheyenne Kelly, 17.27; 3. (tie) Shelley Morgan and Gretchen Benbenek, 17.41; 4. 5. Sandi Brandi, 17.42; 6. Alexia Mehrle, 17.49; 7. Sally Young, 17.50; 8. Michele McLeod, 17.53; 9. Reann Zancanella, 17.56;  10. Tana Poppino, 17.57.+

Bull riding: 1. Guthrie Murray, 79 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Southern Fried; no other qualified rides.

postheadericon Praying for those affected by Oklahoma storms

My girls got out of school at 3 p.m. today and were home shortly thereafter. My youngest was being her rascally self and had to suffer a couple of consequences.

I was a little frustrated, because I have some things I need to finish before Wednesday morning, and taking time for a 4-year-old’s attitude adjustment wasn’t what I needed. Nonetheless, it’s what she needed, so I handled the situation. Upon returning to my desk, I started noticing the reports from the deadly tornado in Moore, Okla.

I sat awestruck while watching the coverage from KFOR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City. When the “chopper” video showed the leveled Tower Plaza Elementary School, my heart switched from aching to broken.

Mother Nature is a cruel mistress. We need her for so many things; this wasn’t one of them.

I somberly walked upstairs, where I found my 11-year-old reading. I told her what was happening in Oklahoma, kissed her, hugged her and told her I loved her with all my heart.

I found my rascal playing in her sister’s room, so I picked her up, looked her square in the eyes and said, “I know we had a little trouble today, but I want you to know that no matter what happens in our lives, I will ALWAYS love you.” I held her, and tears just flooded my face.

Not a day goes by that I don’t tell my girls just how much I love them. Today, though, I just wanted to hold them closer than ever. My heart, and my prayers, go out to all those affected by this storm. May God help you find the peace you deserve.

postheadericon Pozzi wins RNCFR title

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the May 2013 edition of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA.

Yeah Hes Firen just hadn’t been himself.

Duke is one of the top barrel horses in ProRodeo, having guided Brittany Pozzi to Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifications and lots of money in recent years. But the 10-year-old gelding out of Spendid Discovery by Alive N Firen just hadn’t felt right to kick off the 2013 campaign.

That changed the first weekend in April when Duke led Brittany Pozzi to her second straight Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo barrel racing championship in Oklahoma City.

Brittany Pozzi

Brittany Pozzi

“He felt outstanding,” Pozzi said of Duke on April 6. “It’s been a really hard winter. He’s been off and on and hurt and not hurt.”

It was a valuable rodeo, too. Pozzi won $19,125 for her take over the three-day competition; she also added a $20,000 voucher for a Ram pickup. The tournament-style format seemed to work quite well for the talented tandem. Pozzi finished fifth in the opening go-round, with her 15.61-second run being worth $997. She scored that time in the opening performance, then waited two days to run again.

But that final day was quite busy. Pozzi ran in the final preliminary performance, blistering the pattern in 15.42 seconds, finishing second in the go-round and second in the two-run average. That evening, she and Duke scored a 15.48 to win the semifinal round, then followed that with a 15.35 to win the championship.

“He’s coming back really strong,” Pozzi said of Duke.

Everything seems to be pointing in a positive direction for the two-time world champion from Victoria, Texas. But there were a lot of great things that happened over the five performances of ProRodeo’s national championship.

Theresa Walter of Billings, Mont., kick-started the rodeo with a 15.59-second run to take the early lead after the opening performance that began at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 4. That evening, the second half of the field of 24 competed, and that’s where the lead changed hands. Carlee Pierce, a two-time NFR qualifier from Stephenville, Texas, won the first round with a 15.42, pocketing $4,607 in the process.

She then kicked-off the second round with the fastest run of the RNCFR, posting a 15.25. In just two days, she earned $13,821.

“I think being first on the ground helped a little bit,” said Pierce, who ran her great horse, Rare Dillion, inside State Fair Arena. “He likes this arena. As many times as I can run in here the better.

“I just feel at home here. It’s a great set up.”

The format works

The Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo features the top 24 circuit barrel racers in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association – the year-end champions and the circuit finals champions from each of the 12 ProRodeo circuits; in case the year-end champion wins the circuit finale, the year-end runner-up earns the right to compete in Oklahoma City. In the Texas Circuit,  for example, Pierce won the year-end and the circuit finals, so Pozzi, as the No. 2 cowgirl in the year-end, qualified for the RNCFR.

Carlee Pierce

Carlee Pierce

Because of the sheer numbers, each round is broken into two performances. There are great payouts in both go-rounds, but the key is that the top eight in the two-run aggregate qualify for the clean-slate semifinals – money is still tabulated, but the times are thrown out.

Pierce, Pozzi and Walter were joined by Nancy Hunter of Neola, Utah; Cindy Smith of Hobbs, N.M.; Barbara Merrill of Axtell, Utah; Pamela Capper of Cheney, Wash; and Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, S.D.

Pozzi won the round and was followed by finalists Hunter, 15.63; Pierce, 15.70; and Smith, 15.94. With less than an hour from semifinals to the finale, the girls kept their horses warmed up and got ready to attack the cloverleaf pattern again.

Pozzi and Duke rounded the pattern in 15.35 seconds, two-tenths of a second faster than Pierce, who finished runner-up to Pozzi for the second straight year. Smith finished third with a 15.59, while Hunter tipped a barrel to finish fourth.

Racing to the title

Pozzi has had great success over the last decade. She first qualified for the Wrangler NFR in 2003 at the age of 19.

In 2013 alone, she won Denver; San Angelo, Texas; Logandale, Nev.; Pocatello, Idaho; Red Bluff, Calif.; Riverdale, Calif.; Livermore, Calif.; Santa Maria, Calif.; Belle Fourche, S.D.; St. Paul, Ore.; Molalla, Ore.; Spanish Fork, Utah; Salt Lake City; Salinas, Calif.; Casper, Wyo.; and Sheridan, Wyo.

There aren’t many titles she hasn’t won, and she owns an outstanding pen of great barrel horses.

But there’s something about the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo that has caught Pozzi’s fancy.

“It pays great,” she said. “I did not know how awesome the Ram finals were until I made them last year. Now every year from now on I’ll make sure I make my circuit finals. It’s really awesome to be here.”

postheadericon Bullfighters tackle many tasks at rodeo

Chris Kirby fights a bull during a recent rodeo. Kirby will handle numerous tasks during the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla., and will fight bulls with partner Clay Heger. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

Chris Kirby fights a bull during a recent rodeo. Kirby will handle numerous tasks during the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla., and will fight bulls with partner Clay Heger. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

CLAREMORE, Okla. – By the time Chris Kirby is ready for bull riding at the Will Rogers Stampede, he will already be drenched in sweat from a full night’s worth of work tackling many of the behind-the-scenes duties that are involved in producing an event of this caliber.

It’s OK, though. It’s something in which Kirby takes great pride.

You see, the Kaufman, Texas, man is a professional bullfighter who will work alongside Clay Heger of Odessa, Texas, in keeping fallen bull riders out of harm’s way. That is their main job at Claremore’s rodeo, with three performances set for 7:45 p.m. Friday, May 24-Sunday, May 26, at Will Rogers Round Up Club Arena.

But they have many others with Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo and Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo, which will be providing livestock in Claremore for the first time in the rodeo’s 67 years.

“I’m just doing something I love to do,” said Kirby, 31.

Kirby will be in charge of hauling some of the best animal athletes to Claremore. Once on site, Kirby and Heger will work with other crewmates and members of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo.

“We have a family atmosphere, and we all know what to expect with each other,” Kirby said. “I’ve just kind of jumped in there. If there’s a void that needs to be filled, I just go with it. We all try to make sure that what needs to get done gets done. It’s a smooth deal.

“If we do it all right, it looks effortless. Everybody has an understanding of what each of us does, and it’s a team effort.”

A longtime athlete, the Texas-born Kirby likened it to another professional sport.

“It’s no different than the Dallas Cowboys playing,” he said. “When they’re in the huddle and the play is called, everybody’s supposed to know their situation and know what they’re supposed to do. The offense drives down the field, and you score, just like you’re supposed to.

“There’s no one-man hero. We’ve got people who don’t mind going the extra step out of their way. We always make sure everybody’s got what they need.”

Kirby grew up competing in more traditional sports like baseball and football. His family cared for livestock, so he’d been around horses and cattle all his life, but it wasn’t until his early 20s that the man learned why rodeo gets in one’s blood.

“I played other sports, and really I didn’t know roping calves could pay you money,” he said. “I saw a buddy I went to college with fight bulls, and I thought I’d give it a try. The first one I ever got in front of ran me smack over. I got up and said, ‘Let’s do this again.’

That was a decade ago, and he’s been doing it ever since. In fact, he began taking it seriously just five years ago. In 2010, he became a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the top sanctioning body in the sport, and got involved with the Carr crew.

“It’s a job I get paid for that I really enjoy,” Kirby said. “I never really looked at it like it’s a dangerous job. It’s just what I do. And, really, I’m just as safe in that rodeo pen as if I’m driving down the highway.

“Plus you get to travel and you get to meet a lot of nice people doing it.”

Still, not many others get a chance to look in the eyes of a bull toting nearly a ton of kicking, spinning muscle. As a bullfighter, Kirby moves in once a bull rider comes off the animal, battling to get the bull’s attention, then using his natural athletic ability to get himself and all others in the arena out of harm’s way in the blink of an eye.

“It’s exhilarating,” he said. “It’s everything about it. It’s truly sensational to know there’s a wild animal right there that I’ve got a hold of that’s going to follow me wherever I go.

“I showed calves in high school, and it took me three or four months to get him to follow me so I could show him. All I have to do is be in the same pen as the bull, and he’ll follow me everywhere I go.”

While he works in front of thousands of fans at any given rodeo, Kirby tests his night on how little he is recognized in the arena. If he’s doing his job well and everybody stay’s out of harm’s way, then a bullfighter goes unnoticed. That’s his goal in Claremore, but that’s also his “working behind the scenes” personality.

“Going from amateur rodeos to the professional level, I didn’t realize the production of a good rodeo,” Kirby said. “It took me about a year to really see it, but what Pete wants and what we want is to have the kind of production where everybody that paid to be there got their money’s worth and then some. That’s our goal every time.”

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