Archive for January, 2014

postheadericon Is 3rd time the charm for McCoys?

AmazingRace24The person responsible for social media for the reality TV show “The Amazing Race” posted a photo Monday morning of the cast for the show’s 24th season, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 23 on CBS-TV.

The photo reveals that The Cowboys, Oklahoma brothers Jet and Cord McCoy, will be part of the “All-Star Edition” of the show. It marks the third time the McCoys have been part of “The Amazing Race.”

TwisTED Rodeo will be your place for information on the McCoys’ run during the 24th season of the popular series. While information will be limited because of contractual obligations the stars have with the network, we will bring as much news about The Cowboys escapades on the show as possible. Keep checking back.

postheadericon Carr animals stand out in Fort Worth

FORT WORTH, Texas – The inaugural Fort Worth Super Shootout on Thursday night turned into a presentation of rodeo’s brightest star displaying their talent on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo bucking animals.

Kaycee Feild

Kaycee Feild

The shootout, which is part of the legendary Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo, featured event winners from some of the most prestigious rodeos in the world in a two-round championship format inside historic Will Rogers Coliseum. When the curtain closed, five champions were crowned, three of which earned their titles on Carr animals.

J.W. Harris

J.W. Harris

Kaycee Feild, the reigning three-time world champion bareback rider from Payson, Utah, posted an arena record 92.5-point ride on Dirty Jacket to claim the $10,000, first-place prize in his event. Dirty Jacket, a 10-year-old bay gelding who was the Reserve World Champion Bareback horse in 2013 and the two-time Texas Circuit Bareback Horse of the Year, helped cowboys to victories 11 of 12 times from February-November last season.

J.W. Harris, a four-time and reigning world champ from Mullin, Texas, matched moves with Medicine Show for 91 points to win bull riding. That was the same bull Harris rode for 88.5 points to win the fourth go-round at the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. In saddle bronc riding, three-time NFR qualifier Cort Scheer of Elsmere, Neb., posted a 90.5-point ride on Big Tex to win the title.

Cort Scheer

Cort Scheer

But that’s just a small taste of the importance of Carr livestock to the key players in the shootout. In the final round, Carr animals were a big part of bareback riding. In addition to Feild’s winning ride, Bobby Mote of Stephenville, Texas, finished third after scoring 88 points on Good Time Charlie, while Tom McFarland of Bowie, Texas, placed fourth on Scarlett’s Web.

In the first go-round, two-time NFR qualifier Caleb Bennett of Morgan, Utah, scored 89.5 points to win bareback riding on Outa Sight, a 9-year-old paint mare that has been selected to buck at the NFR. Another great Carr horse, 10-year-old Night Bells, helped Feild to a runner-up finish in the long round with an 89.

Also in the first round, a pair of bronc riders posted 86.5-point rides to finish in a tie for second place; Wade Sundell of Boxholm, Iowa, rode Cool Runnings, while Chet Johnson of Douglas, Wyo., matched moves with Spur Strap. Canadian bull rider Tanner Byrne won the long round with a 90.5-point ride on Line Man; Harris placed second with an 86.5-point ride on Speck.

postheadericon NFR staying in Las Vegas

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is staying in Las Vegas.

Numerous sources contacted me Friday, and it was confirmed moments ago in a release issued by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, that the organization and Las Vegas Events agreed to terms to keep the NFR in Sin City.

The boards of the respective entities voted unanimously to the arrangement, the release states.

Ted Harbin TwisTED Rodeo

Ted Harbin
TwisTED Rodeo

LVE will guarantee $16.5 million annually in purse and sponsorship for the NFR. From 2015-19, the release states, the purse will be $10 million – this past December, the NFR’s purse was about $6.25 million. Stock contractors will receive $3 million annually. Contestants will be guaranteed $10,000 each year, the release states, which will not be offset from contestant winnings.

This past December, for example, contestants were guaranteed $13,500 from LVE, but that money was counted against actual NFR earnings. Take saddle bronc rider Chet Johnson, who placed in five go-rounds in 2013, yet earned just $11,118. Because he’d already received the advance check of $13,500 from LVE, he was not provided a check from the five rounds in which he won money. In 2015, Johnson would get $10,000, and should he win the same, he would get paid each go-round, so his Sin City earnings would be greater than $21,000.

It’s more of an appearance fee instead of a guarantee, and it’s high time it has happened. The contestants earned the right to be in Las Vegas. From 2020-24, there will be cost-of-living increases to each purse and guarantee.

PRCA chairman Keith Martin said the agreement benefits all PRCA members: stock contractors, contract personnel, committees and contestants.

“There is an investment here to advance the PRCA’s circuit system and help the sport continue to grow,” Martin said in the release.

Additionally, there will be a season-long sponsorship program with the PRCA, presenting sponsorships of the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo and the 12 Ram Circuit Finals Rodeo, as well as the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping … if it takes place in Las Vegas.

For nearly 30 years, Las Vegas has built a strong partnership with the PRCA and its contestants,” LVE chairman Bill McBeath said in the release. “This new agreement clearly demonstrates the commitment that Las Vegas has to the PRCA, to the overall growth of the sport of rodeo and to the contestants.

“We feel that the new agreement is beneficial to all parties, and we’re very pleased to continue to host this iconic event for an additional 10 years.”

This is a big move for both the PRCA and LVE, and it’s the right move for rodeo. Las Vegas has been the perfect host for the sport’s marquee event.

“We are relieved that we were able to assemble an agreement that both ensures that the Wrangler NFR will remain in Las Vegas for the long term and that all parties will prosper,” LVE president Pat Christenson said.

postheadericon Cervi claims 4th gold buckle in record fashion

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story on the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and Sherry Cervi’s world championship that appear in the January 2014 edition of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA.

As Sherry Cervi and MP Meter My Hay rounded the third barrel during their final run of the 2013 season, all the emotions overwhelmed the Marana, Ariz., cowgirl.

“I was relieved; it was a lot of emotions,” said Cervi, who had just secured her third Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average championship and her fourth world champion’s gold buckle. “This whole year has been one of the most fairytale years, and everything has gone right. They don’t come around that often.

“Enjoy it while it lasts and appreciate it. I wouldn’t be here without my horse.”

Cervi’s voice cracked again. It’s that special bond between the 16-time Wrangler NFR qualifier and her 11-year-old palomino she calls Stingray, the same beautiful, little horse that guided her to the 2010 world title.

Sherry Cervi

Sherry Cervi

“It’s very, very special to me,” she said of the two rodeo golds she owns with Stingray. “I had a chance to do that on Hawk and Troubles and screwed up at the finals. I think it’s really cool to come back, because she deserves it. I know she’s a special horse, and there (are) 14 other horses here that could win it any time.”

She was talking about the Wrangler NFR, which paid out the biggest checks in the sport over 10 December nights in Las Vegas. But the cream rose to the top. In all, Cervi placed in all 10 go-rounds, including three victories, and left Sin City with $155,899 earned inside the Thomas & Mack Center, home of ProRodeo’s grand championship for 29 years.

In fact, the Arizona cowgirl became just the fifth in Wrangler NFR history to have placed in each go-round. That’s something quite special.

“My year’s been awesome, and she’s been great all week,” she said of Stingray, who ran her slowest time of the week on the final night, a 14.16, primarily because Cervi was being extra cautious around the barrels. “It was a tough barrel race. She’s a consistent horse, and I’m just glad I stayed out of her way and let her work.”

In 2010, Cervi had secured the gold buckle prior to the start of the 10th round. She led the average heading into the final night, then she and Stingray tipped a barrel; Jill Moody won the average title.

“(That) was a good year, but I could’ve won the average and the world championship,” Cervi said. “I just sat down too early and hit it. Today … I don’t know what happened at the first, but she kind of stepped by, I just told myself, ‘Just ride your horse and maybe go a little wider than you had been.’ ”

It worked just fine.

“Stingray is getting older and (is) consistent,” she said. “She’s just so solid and loves her job. I wanted to win the average. I wanted to get around the barrels 10 times. I really didn’t think about it until tonight, and it was, my gosh …

“I’ve been doing this my whole life, and you make this run in your mind a million times. She worked great. She deserved the award.”

Cervi might’ve been talking about the average title, but she also might’ve been talking about Stingray being named the Horse with the Most Heart, an award voted on by the top 15 contestants.

“She is an awesome horse that gives 110 percent every time, so she deserves it,” said Cervi, who set a Wrangler NFR average record by rounding the pattern 10 times in a cumulative time of 138.15 seconds, bettering the mark of 138.26 set by Moody. “But all the girls love their horses. I can’t describe how it feels for them to give Stingray this award.”

The Arizona cowgirl went into Las Vegas as the No. 1 cowgirl in the standings. She had a little more than a $10,000 lead over the 2012 champ, Mary Walker of Ennis, Texas. But there were six of the top 15 who had earned more than $100,000, and all were within range of catching Cervi in Vegas, which boasts of the largest purse of any rodeo this season.

Walker followed a marvelous rookie NFR with a solid run in 2012, earning more than $92,000. She finished as the reserve world champion while riding her great horse, Perculatin, a 9-year-old gelding she calls Latte. Though they didn’t win a round, Walker and Latte placed seven times.

A funny thing happened in Vegas, though. Only two other ladies – rookie of the year Taylor Jacob on Honor Thy Frenchman and Lisa Lockhart on An Oakie With Cash – won Wrangler NFR go-rounds. Lockhart, who was second best in Wrangler NFR earnings with $102,163, won the fifth, ninth and 10th nights on Louie, a 9-year-old buckskin gelding.

Jacob, though, was the talk of Sin City. She won the third, fourth, sixth and seventh goes on Bo, an 8-year-old Grulla gelding, and set a new record with a 13.37 on the sixth night, bettering Carlee Pierce’s 13.46 set two seasons ago on Rare Dillion.

“When they came to get me for the victory lap, someone said I needed to try and breathe because I just couldn’t believe what had just happened,” Jacob said that night, Dec. 11. “I had never said it out loud, but that was one of my goals for this finals.”

How is this for fast? Of the four rounds Jacob won inside the Thomas & Mack, she posted three faster than 13.50. She also finished in a three-way tie for third place in the fifth round, finishing her first qualification to the Wrangler NFR with more than $82,000. She also finished her rookie campaign with $164,484 as the No. 4 cowgirl in the ProRodeo world standings.

Lockhart, who entered the championship ninth in the standings, utilized her run to finish the season third – it is the highest finish of her career, the seventh straight time she’s qualified for the finals.

This season, though, belonged to Cervi.

“This week has been awesome and a great ending to a really great year,” she said. “I had a really good month of July and won about $70,000 in three weeks. Coming into the finals, there was no lead that was good enough.”

No, it’s not. Go-round winners earned $18,630 each night. That’s why it was vital for her and Stingray to put an exclamation point on the season with a strong Wrangler NFR. The big check she collected also warranted another big prize, the Ram Top Gun award, given to the contestant who had the most earnings in a single event. It was the fourth year for the award – a Ram pickup given to the winner – and was the second time a barrel racer won it; Walker won it a year ago, bareback rider Kaycee Feild won in 2011 and all-around champion Trevor Brazile won the inaugural year before the rules changed to recognize those with the best earnings in individual events, not overall.

“I don’t really know how I’m going to get it home, but I will find a way and I will drive it,” Cervi said.

It might just be the perfect vehicle to carry her and Stingray back to the City of Lights next December. They’ve done quite well there over the years, so why not make the Thomas & Mack their December home.

“My horse does do good the more runs you make on her, and I knew that,” she said. “This year I wanted to be mentally focused and stay hooked and finish.”

How do they get back to Las Vegas? Maybe the 2013 season was a road map.

“I don’t feel like I did anything different; I just won at the big rodeos,” Cervi said. Stingray is “definitely very special because we did raise her. I rode her dad, and her mom was a three-fourths sister to Hawk, so there’s history with Stingray. She just has a real unique personality, and her and I kind of have a special bond.

“Now I have two gold buckles on her, so that’s pretty cool.”

Yes, it is.

postheadericon Answers seem a long ways away

Over the last week, I’ve visited with several people concerning all the goings-on with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the top contestants in the game.

The calls came from contract personnel, sponsors, committee members, contestants and former contestants. The calls have been about what the future holds for the sport of rodeo, the PRCA and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The reality is all of it has been up in the air. Some have been involved in the deepest levels of politics in the sport, so their insights are quite interesting.

Ted Harbin TwisTED Rodeo

Ted Harbin
TwisTED Rodeo

Each entity had specific agenda, with each looking out for their best interest. A former board member shared his excitement for the future of the sport, noting that the top contestants are doing the right thing by stepping out on their own. The highest majority agreed with the sentiment that contestants should receive more of a voice with the decisions being made in the PRCA. As one caller pointed out numerous times: “It is called the Pro Rodeo COWBOYS Association.”

The PRCA board consists of two stock contracting representatives, two committee representatives, one contract personnel representative and four contestant reps. Is that the best representation for the entire PRCA membership? Probably not.

The top contestants developed a proposal that included an increase in board memberships, from nine to 11. The two additional board members were to represent NFR contestant members, based on further pieces of the proposal that were to establish a two-card system. That proposal was rejected by a 5-4 board vote a little more than a week ago.

During the conversation with the former board member, I learned that there has been a great divide between the contestant reps and the other board members for decades. Does that point to an overhaul in the PRCA board? Quite possibly. Would the addition of two more elite contestants be the answer? That remains to be seen, but the bulk of PRCA members deserve representation.

Very little word has come out regarding the split between the elite contestants and the association. What appeared to be a move of solidarity between top contestants and the PRCA turned out to be a push by some contestants to show Texas’ interest in being the NFR’s future home. There is no collaboration with those who are part of the Support Rodeo Contestants’ Facebook page – those elite contestants who pledged their support for a new, member-driven organization with supporters including 19-time world champion Trevor Brazile, four-time world champion Bobby Mote, eight-time titlist Fred Whitfield and NFR bulldogger K.C. Jones, just to name a few.

In fact, the last post from the Support Rodeo Contestants’ page came last Wednesday. But there have been hints on social media that the group is continuing to progress toward secession from the PRCA with a world champion making such a comment as late as Sunday afternoon.

So how will this all play out? How long will it take before we learn more about rodeo’s future?

I wish I had a magic crystal ball, but, for now, all I can do is trust that it will all work out in the best interest of everyone involved.

postheadericon The clouds are starting to part

Are the top cowboys still planning to leave the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association?

The truth to that is still unknown. But there seems – the key word in this sentence is “seems” – to be some headway being made. Inference has been made to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, featuring the top cowboys in the game, making its way to Texas.

Ted Harbin TwisTED Rodeo

Ted Harbin
TwisTED Rodeo

Photos of PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman, Texas state Rep. Cecil Bell Jr., and Texas Gov. Rick Perry circulated on social media Friday. Kirby Cannon, the brother of NFR bareback rider Clint Cannon, was the most vocal about the happenings going on in Austin, Texas, blasting snippets across social media.

“It’s out,” Cannon wrote on his Facebook page Saturday morning. “So how does the NFR in Texas sound?”

Unfortunately, the clouds begin to gray again, with limited word coming out of the PRCA and of the camp of top cowboys who vowed Monday through their Facebook page, Support Rodeo Contestants, to form a new organization. The story can be found HERE. Once that was released, the PRCA issued a statement, which can be found HERE.

Obviously, there have been talks between the contestants and the association. That’s great. Here is something Cannon posted Friday on one of the Facebook pages he directs, Bareback Riders Forum: “If you are or were ever a member of the PRCA, today would be a great day to smile. Every storm ends and the skies will be bluer than ever. Rally around the brand. The next month is big; it needs your trust, and great things are coming.”

That led to today’s post on Cannon’s page.

“No more details can be released, but Texas doesn’t do small,” Cannon wrote. “This started with some bareback riders with a wild hair and a cowboy politician by the name of Cecil Bell Jr. Guys, the future is bright, and it’s time ProRodeo cowboys got treated like pros. God bless Texas.”

Everything sounds positive, but, quite obviously, it will take some time before the true facts in this case are revealed. I hope you’ll keep checking back to see what happens.

postheadericon PRCA issues statement on recent events

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because of the story presented by a number of the top cowboys and cowgirls in ProRodeo that appeared on the group’s Facebook page and on TwisTED Rodeo (see HERE) on Jan. 6 and later appeared in subsequent publications, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association issued a statement to media representatives that requested it. Below is the PRCA’s statement on this issue.

A group of approximately 20 PRCA contestants called a meeting Jan. 3-4 in Waco, Texas, a day after requesting a special PRCA board of directors meeting. Upon 48 hours’ notice, the PRCA board agreed to hold that special meeting via teleconference on Jan. 4.

PRCA-logoDuring the Jan. 4 board meeting, the 11 contestants in attendance asked the PRCA board to amend 18 bylaws related to newly created contestant board seats and contestant eligibility for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The contestants discussed their proposed bylaw changes at length with the board.

The PRCA board expressed concerns about the contestant demand that all 18 bylaw changes be voted on that same day, within 48 hours of the notice of the meeting, as that timing did not allow for the necessary vetting and research to be done in order to make legally sound, informed business decisions greatly affecting the entire membership. The contestants stated that their urgency for the immediate answers was based upon their belief that a deadline of Jan. 6 existed for negotiating the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo contract.

However, the PRCA board was never informed of any Jan. 6 deadline and was at the very same time receiving a conflicting counter-offer deadline of Jan. 14 from multiple members of the Las Vegas Events board. In the interest of serving all 6,000-plus PRCA members and the entire sport of professional rodeo, the PRCA board requested additional time to research and carefully consider all requests from the contestant group, but the 11 contestants denied that request.

postheadericon True champs chasing Timed Event title

GUTHRIE, Okla. – Few men can lay claim to being the Timed Event Champion of the World. Fewer can say they’ve done it twice; fewer yet have won the prestigious title more than that.

In 2013, Californian Daniel Green placed his name on that hallowed list with his third gold buckle in the most unique event ever created in the world of rodeo. He will try to become just the fourth cowboy to have ever earned four Timed Event Championships when this year’s five-round fiesta takes place March 7-9 at the Lazy E Arena, the event’s 30th anniversary.

Daniel Green

Daniel Green

“It wasn’t perfect by any means,” Green said last March after roping and wrestling 25 head of livestock in 313.6 seconds to claim the title against an impressive field of ProRodeo’s brightest timed-event stars. “Many times it’s not, but that’s the Timed Event Championship. It’s adapt, adjust and overcome. It’s the guy that perseveres, and I just kept my mind set. These kids were coming in here and roping fast, and I just kept solid. I’ve been here enough to know.”

He has. In fact, he has been one of the top 20 cowboys in the world to be invited to this prestigious event for the better part of the last two decades. He won his first Timed Event Championship a dozen years ago, and then followed with his second in 2008. But Green is just one piece to the elite puzzle that makes up one of the most unique events in the history of the sport. You see, the championship features the best in the business competing in all five timed-event disciplines: heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer roping and steer wrestling.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

It takes talent to perform the tasks, but it takes grit and determination to succeed at this level. They compete in five go-rounds, with one round being made up of runs in each of the five disciplines. The top cowboys each year tend to be the top all-around cowboys in the game, from 25-time World Champion Trevor Brazile, who owns 19 PRCA Gold Buckles and six Timed Event titles, to five-time TEC winner K.C. Jones to numerous other rodeo champions.

They’ll join other Timed Event champions like Kyle Lockett and Josh Peek as well as a host of regular qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Why?

The Timed Event Championship is one of the most prestigious events in Western sports, and it was developed 30 years ago as a way to decide the greatest all-around timed-event cowboy. Its list of champions is a who’s who of rodeo’s greatest stars. The tradition continues March 7-9 and the fabulous Lazy E Arena.

Families will enjoy all of the activities planned for the performances. Ticket prices are $45 for VIP, box seats $35, reserved bleachers $30 and general admission $25. Children 12 and under are free in general admission and VIP. Group and multiple performance discounts are also available. Tickets can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, www.lazye.com, calling Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000 or by calling the Lazy E Arena directly at (800) 595-RIDE.

A portion of the proceeds from the 2014 Timed Event Championship will be donated to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. In addition, Priefert Ranch & Rodeo Equipment, The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Lazy E will again be auctioning off a customized Priefert Roping Chute that will be used in this year’s competition to the highest bidder of the weekend – all proceeds will donated to the Rodeo Historical Society. The Lazy E is proud to support this institution for western preservation! 

Country Christian artist Susie McEntire-Eaton and her husband, Mark Eaton, will perform during Cowboy Church, set for 9 a.m. Sunday, March 9, at the Lazy E Arena – the service is open to the public. Other special functions are being planned so make sure and check out the website for all the latest details.

The 2014 Timed Event Championship is sponsored by Priefert Ranch & Rodeo Equipment, Pendleton Whisky, Wrangler, American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance, MacroAir, Cross Bar Gallery, Ram Trucks, John Vance Motors, Western Horseman Magazine, R.K. Black Inc., Gist Silversmiths, Spin to Win Magazine, National Saddlery, Hot Heels, Rodeo Video, CSI Saddlepads, the Best Western Edmond, and the Fairfield Inn & Suites – Edmond.

postheadericon Whitney making plans to retire

BULL RIDER EXPECTS TO COMPETE ONE LAST SEASON BEFORE MOVING ON

SAYRE, Okla. – Cody Whitney was just 8 years old when he first tied himself to a bucking bovine.

Now 25 years later, he’s putting the wraps to a stellar bull riding career. Whitney – who lives in Sayre, Okla., with his wife Kori, daughter Lila and son Quaid – is ready to hang up his bull riding gear.

“I’ve decided this will be my last year to compete,” said Whitney, who burst on the scene in 2001 as a young gun eager to tame bucking beasts.

Cody Whitney

Cody Whitney

The Oklahoma cowboy has been one of the best, and don’t look for it to change anytime soon. If things go well, he’ll end his incredible career at the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, ProRodeo’s grand finale that features only the top 15 cowboys and cowgirls from the given year.

“All the trophies and saddles on his wall do nothing for the legacy he’s leaving,” said Cord McCoy, a retired bull rider who also has been a reality-TV star. “Forty years from now when people ask you if you know Cody Whitney, it’ll make you smile thinking about who he is.”

Whitney, 32, has qualified for the NFR four times in the last five years, but he’s been one of the elite bull riders in the sport longer than that. He’s a six-time qualifier to the Professional Bull Riders World Finals, earning his first trip to the championship at 19 years old; he also has been a major player in the Championship Bull Riding organization.

“I am very happy with how my career has played out,” said Whitney, who finished among the top 10 in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings three of the four times he’s ridden in Las Vegas. “Obviously the goal every year is to win a world championship, and that’s my goal this year. But if it never happens, I’m OK with that.

“There aren’t that many people in this world that get to make a living doing what they love to do. I’ve been able to do that. It’s awesome.”

So is Whitney, who spent a number of years or in Asher, Okla.

“I think Cody’s career speaks for itself,” said Cord McCoy, a recently retired bull rider. “I’ve been friends with Cody Whitney since I was 7 years old, maybe longer. Anybody that’s ever ridden against Cody knows what kind of person he is.

“There aren’t too many people that have ridden for as much money as he has, but he still acts like he’s in the practice pen every time.”

That always has been Whitney’s style. His personality is what enabled him to play at the top of his game for most of his professional career. He never allowed the pressure of the moment to detour him. He’s won some of the biggest titles in the game and mastered some of the most infamous, toughest-to-ride bulls to have ever burst out of the chute.

“He’s kind of a dragon-slayer,” McCoy said. “He rode Little Yellow Jacket, the only three-time world champion bucking bull in the PBR. He rode Pandora’s Box, which was the nemesis for a lot of great bull riders. When Cody rode Bell’s Blue, that was the greatest bull we ever had, and he rode him at the PBR World Finals. That same week, Bell’s Blue bucked off Wiley Peterson and Justin McBride, but Cody Whitney rode him.

“He’s a great bull rider, but he’s a better friend.”

That might be the best attributes for Whitney, who has plans to remain active in rodeo in some regard when his riding days are over.

“I feel like I can do something with rodeo to help make it better when I’m done competing,” said Whitney, the two-time reigning bull riding champion at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo who has won numerous prestigious titles in his career. “I think we have a great opportunity to make a great sport even better, and I want in on that.”

postheadericon Top cowboys, cowgirls unite to protect their sport

EDITOR’S NOTE: The story that appears below was presented by a group of contestants that has created a Facebook page to present its case. For more information, check out the Support Rodeo Contestants page.

A group of the top cowboys and cowgirls have been working diligently behind the scenes to try and protect the sport of professional rodeo. Much has been written lately about the challenging negotiations between the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Las Vegas, which has been the home of the National Finals Rodeo for the last 29 years.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

As these negotiations occurred, a group of the top contestants in the sport of professional rodeo have come together to make sure that the integrity of their profession is not lost in the negotiations over the millions of dollars created each year by the fans who flock to the NFR to see the top cowboys and cowgirls compete for the world championship buckles.

Operating under a tight timeline the group recently proposed changes to the PRCA structure in exchange for the commitment of the cowboys to provide greater support to PRCA sanctioned rodeos.

A key member of the group is eleven-time all-around world champion Trevor Brazile, who has a record 19 gold buckles.

K.C. Jones

K.C. Jones

“We went to the PRCA with a proposal supported by the top cowboys that would have strengthened the PRCA; unfortunately our proposal was not accepted,” Brazile said. “We appreciate what the PRCA has done for the sport in the past, but at this point we feel the time has come for the top contestants to be more directly involved in the future of our sport.

“We are forming a new organization to work together with committees and sponsors to make sure that the sport of professional rodeo continues to deliver the highest quality product to our great fans.”

K.C. Jones is one of the leaders behind the new organization.

Fred Whitfield

Fred Whitfield

“After an exhaustive effort of the top cowboys to help save the current structure, we now realize it’s time for a change and that there is a huge opportunity for the contestants of professional rodeo to work together to advance the sport,” said Jones, a seven-time NFR steer wrestling qualifier. “We are extremely excited to showcase the best contestants at the best venues to give the fans the top quality action they want.”

The support is extensive.

“This is important to us because we are the cowboys that people come to see compete for the world championships,” said legendary tie-down roper Fred Whitfield, who won eight world championships and has qualified for 20 NFRs. “What people need to understand is that we are also professional athletes who take the history and integrity of our sport extremely seriously. We have the greatest appreciation for our fans and we have come together to make sure that our fans continue to have a chance to see the top contestants in our sport battle it out every year for a real world championship.”

Bobby Mote

Bobby Mote

Four-time world champion bareback rider Bobby Mote, who has 13 NFR qualifications, said he became involved to protect the future of the sport.

“We did everything we could to work the PRCA to create the change that we believe this sport needed to go forward,” Mote said. “But now it is time for a new direction and this group of cowboys is focused on working with everyone who wants to see professional rodeo get to the next level, while still protecting the heritage of our sport.”

Said Brazile, “Ultimately this is an exciting time for our sport. It is an honor for me to wear a gold buckle and each time I put one on, I appreciate the weight and importance of the heritage of this sport. As the sport of professional rodeo enters a new era we want to make sure that the integrity of the gold buckle is never compromised and that we provide our contestants, fans and sponsors with the greatest world championship rodeo possible.”

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