HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The Waller County Fair and Rodeo falls at a strange time of year for contestants in professional rodeo.
Because the regular season concluded the end of September, this week’s festivities at the Waller County Fairgrounds Arena are part 2014 season opener, even though the year-end championship, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, is still two months away.
For the best in the business who have qualified to compete at the NFR at Las Vegas in December, Hempstead’s rodeo serves a dual purpose – it allows them a head-start to the new season while getting tuned-up for the world championship. Steven Dent, a six-time bareback riding qualifier from Mullen, Neb., got the best of both worlds on one of the best bucking horses in the world.
“He’s a little bit strong, but you can win on him,” Dent said of Carr Pro Rodeo’s Real Deal, the 2005 Bareback Horse of the Year that will buck at the NFR for the ninth straight year. “Any horse you can win on is what I like to get on.”
Real Deal is considered an eliminator, meaning he’s one of the tougher-to-ride horses in ProRodeo. Dent handled everything the big 13-year-old brown gelding threw at him and took the lead during Friday’s second performance of the rodeo with an 89-point ride. That’s a great score on a horse considered to be that strong.
“I either get along with strong horses well, or it goes really bad,” Dent said. “The stronger they are, the more aggressive I try to be, because I know my arm is not near as big as that horse. On a strong horse, you’ve got to do it with your feet.
“Sometimes it looks terrible; sometimes it looks alright.”
It looked pretty phenomenal, and it’s a great way to look toward the 2014 season while having a firm grasp of his place on the money list. He sits 10th in the world standings with a little more than $75,000 in 2013 earnings.
“It’s a little tough to start on something new before you finish what you’ve started,” he said. “It feels good to get a good start. This is a good rodeo. I’ve got three rodeos this weekend that count for next year’s standings. I don’t care if I win a gold buckle this year or next year; I just want one.”
In addition to riding one of the rankest bareback horses in the world, Dent also competed in saddle bronc riding. He was an all-around champion at Ranger (Texas) College, and he’d like to take a shot at that title in ProRodeo, too.
“I finally got in the top 50 in bronc riding,” he said, noting that finishing a season in the top 50 allows for more opportunities the next season. “My plan is to get in the finals in two events next year and try to win a couple gold buckles.”
If he keeps riding like he did Friday night in Hempstead, he has a great chance.
Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Steven Dent, 89 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Real Deal; 2. Bobby Mote, 83; 3. Matt Bright, 82; 4. Dustin Bowen, 81; 5. Donnie O’Bris, 80; 6. Tilden Hooper, 79; 7. Taylor Broussard, 77; 8. Matt Crumpler, 74.
Steer wrestling: 1. Cole Edge, 3.6 seconds; 2. Stan Branco, 4.0; 3. Termaine Debose, 4.2; 4. Austin Courmier, 4.3; 5. Jarret New, 4.6; 6. Glen Clark, 4.8.
Team roping: 1. Colby Lovell/Martin Lucero, 3.8; 2. (tie) Ty Blasingame/Cole Davison and David Key/Jett Hillman, 4.4; 4. Jesse Harvill/Dustin Davis, 4.5; 5. Joshua Torres/Jonathan Torres, 4.6; 6. (tie) Casey Gattis/Scott Wilson, 4.7; 8. Quisto Lopez/Keagan Duncan, 4.8.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Sam Spreadborough, 88 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s Take The Plunge; 2. Nick Laduke, 81; 3. (tie) Kobyn Williams and Ty Kirckland, 80; 5. (tie) Brady Nicholes and Bradley Harter, 79\.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Scott Kormos, 7.5 seconds; 2. (tie) Ryan Thibodeaux and Caleb Smidt, 7.8; 4. Cody Sacula, 7.9; 5. Braxton Laughlin, 8.2; 6. Jade Conner, 8.3.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Scamper Cole, 15.83; 2. Mary Walker, 15.84; 3. Shelley Morgan, 15.91; 4. Jill Tanner, 16.04; 5. (tie) Kimmie Wall and Ashley Mohon, 16.05; 7. Kortney Fisher, 16.12; 8. (tie) Nikki Steffes and Stevi Hillman, 16.15; 10. Annesa Self, 16.16.
Bull riding: 1. Cooper Davis, 90 points on Carr Pro Rodeo’s One Bad Cat; 2. Stormy Wing, 88; 3. Caleb Sanderson, 87; 4. Dustin Bowen, 84; 5. Kyle Jeppesen Loudon, 82.