Archive for February, 2014

postheadericon Champs bring star power to RNCFR

GUTHRIE, Okla. – Wesley Silcox and Cody Teel are about as different as two bull riders can be.

Wesley Silcox

Wesley Silcox

Silcox, 28, is from Utah and is now in his 11th season competing in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association; he is 5-foot-8 and has qualified to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo six times in his career. Teel is a 21-year-old, 6-foot-tall Texan who has competed at the NFR each of the last two years; this is just his third season in ProRodeo.

Cody Teel

Cody Teel

But they share something spectacular: the gold buckles awarded annually to world champions. Silcox won his in 2007, while Teel earned his in his first trip to Las Vegas in 2012. They’re two of the top bull riders in the game that will be part of ProRodeo’s National Championship, the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, scheduled for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 11; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Lazy E Arena near Guthrie.

They are joined by a number of the top bull riders in the game, including NFR qualifiers Brett Stall, Bobby Welsh, Steve Woolsey and Oklahoman Trevor Kastner. Welsh is the elder statesman of the group. When the competition begins, he will be 30 years old; he also has qualified for the NFR seven times, matched only by Woolsey.

Who holds the advantage inside the Lazy E? It’s tough to tell, because there are so many variables in bull riding, but Welsh is the only one of who has earned the RNCFR title, doing so in 2012.

Can he do it again? The bulls will have something to say about it, and so will rodeo’s best.

postheadericon Ranch care a big part of Carr brand

Outa Sight, a 9-year-old paint mare, walks with her first foal in this spring 2012 photo. Animal care is the chief focus of work being done on the Carr ranch, and the work done there shows up at every rodeo the Carr firms produce.

Outa Sight, a 9-year-old paint mare, walks with her first foal in this spring 2012 photo. Animal care is the chief focus of work being done on the Carr ranch, and the work done there shows up at every rodeo the Carr firms produce.

DALLAS – When Clay McCallie looks around the Carr ranch near Athens, Texas, he sees the magnificence.

The ranch is home to tree-lined pastures and the greatest bucking stock in professional rodeo, and it’s McCallie’s task to take care of every inch and every breathing being on the place. He takes his job quite seriously, and the proof comes every time those animals perform.

“It’s just like any other sport; if you don’t take care of yourself at home, you can’t expect to compete at your best,” said McCallie, the ranch manager. “You want to be in top quality shape. Since these are animals, it’s our job to make sure they’re taken care of here so when they get to the rodeo, they’re ready to perform at their best.”

The great animals from Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo will show all that off during the West Monroe ProRodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Ike Hamilton Expo Center.

“Pete Carr wants to have a good rodeo everywhere we go, and it all starts right here on the ranch,” said Jeremy Hight, the assistant ranch manager who also serves at a pickup man at the Carr rodeos throughout the season. “Every person on our team pays attention to the animals, and they know that’s the biggest part of our job is to care for the animals.

“We want to have the best bucking horses, the best bucking bulls and the best timed-event cattle we can have at every rodeo, so it takes a lot of attention to detail every step of the way to make that happen.”

Hight was raised in east Texas and has been around livestock all his life. He has focused his attention to rodeo over the last five years. But McCallie was raised in the rodeo business with his family’s livestock firm, based in Benton, Ark. He brings that experience – as well as several years as a contestant – to his post.

“I look at every animal here every day,” McCallie said. “From riding horses to bucking horses to other horses, we have about 400 horses here, and I make sure that everything is good. We regulate what every animal eats and how we care for every animal. It’s part of our ranch management, making sure everything is cared for.”

Most of the work for the rodeo company takes place on the ranch. Most animals will perform at less than 20 rodeos a season, so most of their time is spent on the ranch. It’s vital they receive the utmost tender loving care possible.

“When you look at the stock that comes from our companies, it’s an incredible load of talent we take to every rodeo,” Hight said, referring to Carr Pro Rodeo and Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo. “I’m in a unique deal where I’m the pickup man and also work at the ranch. Pete’s done a great job of putting the right people in the right places. And the stock is the beneficiary of everything we do.

“I’m fortunate that I get to look out my window at all these great animals every day, then I get to see them perform at the rodeos. For someone like me who just loves horses, it’s pretty incredible.”

The animals are pretty incredible, too; the same can be said about the people who care for them.

postheadericon Harrison taking funny to Guymon

Rodeo entertainer John Harrison will bring a trailer-load of acts with him to perform at the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for the first weekend in May at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena. (Photo courtesy of John Harrison)

Rodeo entertainer John Harrison will bring a trailer-load of acts with him to perform at the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for the first weekend in May at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena. (Photo courtesy of John Harrison)

GUYMON, Okla. – For 10 December nights in the City of Lights, John Harrison rolled out an oversized protective barrel that served as his front-row seat for bull riding during the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

As the barrelman selected for ProRodeo’s super bowl, Harrison’s job was to man the specially made steel keg as an extra piece of protection for bull riders, bullfighters and just about anybody else inside the Thomas & Mack Center’s arena at the time.

“It’s an awesome feeling for me and my family because it’s a position that’s voted on by your peers,” said Harrison, who will serve as the barrelman, funnyman and entertainer during this year’s Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 2; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“You feel it’s something you deserve. I’m tickled to death I got it. As a trick rider, I got to perform at the NFR three other times, but to be there every night and be part of the NFR personnel was just amazing.”

Harrison has been nominated as one of the best in the business for much of his clowning career. The Soper, Okla., cowboy joined the PRCA as a trick rider in 2001, then transitioned to clowning in 2008. The grandson of world champion bull rider Freckles Brown, rodeo always has been part of Harrison’s life. Being part of the NFR is just a big part of a family legacy that makes Harrison special.

“I love packing the barrel and being there for the cowboys, but I wasn’t there to be part of the entertainment,” Harrison said. “I didn’t get a microphone or anything I’m used to doing at a rodeo, but I’m glad I was selected to be there.”

He will be a big part of the entertainment that is Pioneer Days Rodeo. Just as he was a few years ago when he performed in Texas County, Harrison will pack several acts and a lot of comedy along with his barrel.

“We had a lot of people around here who have told us they wanted us to bring John back to Guymon,” said Earl Helm, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces Pioneer Days Rodeo. “He’s funny and has a lot to offer the fans who make our rodeo one of the best in the world.”

That’s true. In addition to hysterical acts that showcase Harrison’s talent and athleticism, the Oklahoma man serves as a valuable piece of the puzzle that helps make for a near-flawless performance each time he speaks.

“John is good, clean family fun,” said John Gwatney, the production supervisor for Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo, the primary livestock producer for the rodeo. “He brings his family with him when he can and includes them with his act.”

Until recently, Harrison traveled the rodeo circuit with his family: His wife, Carla, and their three children, Addison, Cazwell and Billie. Now that Addison is in school, the family outings take place less often; still, family is a big part of who the clown is in and out of the arena.

“It’s his rodeo background, because he grew up in this sport,” Gwatney said. “For us, he helps us with the timing of our production. When you know what needs to be done and have someone that doesn’t have a big ego, then he’s willing to do work and willing to do that for the production.”

That’s the key reaching fans with a variety of entertaining items. Whether it’s a trick riding display that will leave fans in awe or his parody of rodeo queens, Harrison has a lot of ammunition in his bag.

“I think the biggest thing since the last time I was in Guymon is that the acts have just gotten better,” he said. “I have an Olympic act that I didn’t have in Guymon the last time. The one thing I love about Guymon is that with four performances, I can do something fresh every time.

“I do this for the love of the sport. Growing up with it, you enjoy it. Now I can actually make a living at it, so that helps.”

While family is a big part of who Harrison is, he realizes that rodeo serves as a foster family of sorts.

“The friends and the ‘family’ you meet on the road is a big deal for us,” he said. “Plus if it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it.”

Not only does he have fun, he brings a lot of it with him. That’s why people in Guymon are excited for his return.

postheadericon Much has changed in the last dozen years

I took special notice of Monday’s news release from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, especially concerning the note about legendary roper Joe Beaver crossing the $3 million mark in career earnings.

Joe Beaver

Joe Beaver

I recall the pomp and circumstance surrounding the announcement of Beaver crossing the $2 million mark during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo a dozen years ago. Beaver was shuffled into our tiny media room in the gallows of the Thomas & Mack Center for the news conference. He stood in the corner near the Coors keg and answered questions.

(For the record, the only reporter who was put off by the exchange was the late Dwayne Erickson from the Calgary Herald, who just wanted to get to the beer. As an update, the media has been switched to the UNLV practice gym, so we have more space; in addition, the kegs have been gone for years.)

I bring all this up to show you just how much Beaver has slowed over the years. Since he crossed the $2 million mark, Tuf Cooper has gone from a pre-teen to more than $1.1 million in PRCA earnings and owns two tie-down roping gold buckles.

“I quit really competing (full time) so long ago that it was something that hadn’t crossed my mind anymore,” Beaver, who earned $3,175 at the Fort Worth (Texas) Stock Show Rodeo, told the PRCA. “This shouldn’t have taken so long; I was at $2.8 million about six years ago.”

Trevor Brazile holds the earnings mark at more than $5 million. Beaver joins Billy Etbauer, Fred Whitfield and Cody Ohl with more than $3 million in career earnings.

Hopefully that exclusive club will be filled with dozens more very soon. Rodeo cowboys and cowgirls deserve the opportunity to make millions in their careers, if not annually.

Can we get there? I believe so. We all need to do our part to help the sport continue to grow, in both fan base and in sponsorships.

postheadericon Barrel racing brings out the best

GUTHRIE, Okla. – Sherry Cervi is the most decorated cowgirl making a living on the ProRodeo trail today.

Sherry Cervi

Sherry Cervi

Just a few months removed from earning her fourth Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Championship, Cervi is already prepared to run for another title: National Champion. She will be one of 24 barrel racers competing at the 2014 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, scheduled for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 11; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12.

Cervi, of Marana, Ariz., earned the right to compete at this year’s RNCFR by winning the average championship the Ram Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo, where she won the third go-round and placed in the other two. But she is one of several elite cowgirls to make this year’s field, joining 2012 world champion Mary Walker from Ennis, Texas, and several other Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers:

– June Holeman of Arcadia, Neb.; Christy Loflin of Franktown, Colo.; Trula Churchill of Valentine, Neb.; Nikki Steffes of Vale, S.D.; and Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, S.D.

Lockhart, too, has become quite a regular at both the RNCFR and the NFR. A seven-time qualifier to the Las Vegas showcase, Lockhart won three go-rounds this past December and pocketed more than $102,000. She also is a three-time, and the reigning, Canadian champion.

All the ladies have phenomenal horses, and the race should be quite exciting. But we’ve come to expect that at the RNCFR.

postheadericon Fort Worth offers nice paydays

Over the last five years, I’ve watched bareback rider Steven Peebles develop. Even as a young man, he was one of the very best at his craft.

Steven Peebles

Steven Peebles

He keeps getting better. A couple of gnarly injuries the past two seasons have slowed the Oregon bronc buster down a tad, but he continues to be an overpowering talent. He proved it over the last few weeks at the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo.

On Saturday night, he rode Four Star Rodeo’s Lil’ Devil for 87 points for a three-way tie for first place in the championship round inside Will Rogers Coliseum, matching young-gun Bill Tutor and three-time reigning world champion Kaycee Feild.

But Peebles held the advantage heading into the final performance of 30 in Fort Worth, so he walked away with the average championship, scoring a cumulative total of 328 points on four rides. That was four points better than Feild, and Peebles finished with nearly $11,000 in earnings.

Cody Wright

Cody Wright

The big-money winner was barrel racer Shelly Anzick of Livingston, Mont., who gathered $15,126 in Fort Worth.

The story, though, may have been the father-son tandem of Cody and Rusty Wright. Cody won the championship and earned $11,088 in the process, but Rusty, an 18-year-old superstar in the making, shared the short-round title three ways with an 83 – he tied Sterling Crawley and Sam Spreadborough.

Rusty Wright also finished second in the average. Overall, the younger Utah cowboy pocketed $9,124.

Those are amazing stories. Other winners were steer wrestler Seth Brockman, team ropers Drew Horner and Buddy Hawkins, tie-down roper Chant DeForest and bull rider Joe Frost.

postheadericon The ‘Ironman’ promises another great show

I’ve spent the last few days wrapping up the biggest portion of the advance work for the Timed Event Championship of the World.

Daniel Green

Daniel Green

This year’s field of 20 top cowboys is outstanding. In fact, it features four former champions representing 11 titles: reigning and three-time champ Daniel Green, five-time winner K.C. Jones, two-time titlist Kyle Lockett and 2010 champion Josh Peek.

If you haven’t witnessed the Timed Event, you’ve missed out on the most grueling challenge in rodeo. The 20 combatants will compete in heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping. One time through the mix constitutes one go-round, and each cowboy will compete in five rounds.

It’s a true slugfest in every form of the word. Cowboys must battle the livestock, the variables and their own minds in order to overcome the “Ironman of ProRodeo.”

The Timed Event Championship takes place March 7-9 at the Lazy E Arena near Guthrie, Okla. If you want to see the top cowboys in the game tackle the toughest test in the game, then you need to be there.

postheadericon Great report on the NFR-Las Vegas

Ted Harbin TwisTED Rodeo

Ted Harbin
TwisTED Rodeo

Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Howard Stutz put together THIS comprehensive opinion piece about the negotiations to keep the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas for the next 11 years.

In his report, Stutz wrote, “The combined efforts of South Point owner Michael Gaughan, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President Rossi Ralenkotter, Las Vegas Events Chairman Bill McBeath and representatives of the Strip’s largest hotel-casino operators sealed the deal with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the NFR’s sanctioning body.

“Mickey Mouse and Big Tex couldn’t pick Vegas Vic’s pocket.”

No, they couldn’t. One tidbit Stutz reported was that Las Vegas Events President Pat Christenson was in a bit of hot water for his kneejerk-reaction news release in December. It’s quite interesting, and I recommend you take time to read it.

postheadericon Bullfighters bring versatility to rodeo

STARKVILLE, Miss. – The life of a rodeo bullfighter comes quite naturally to Clay Heger.

His father, the late Paul Heger, was a bullfighter and clown, and the younger Heger was just a month old when he went to his first rodeo.

“I was in clown acts when I was 2 years old,” said Heger, who grew up in southeastern Washington and now lives in Houma, La. “Rodeo was just part of everything growing up. If we weren’t around rodeo, we were around horses with my grandparents or helping our uncle brand or sort stock.

“It’s just who I’ve always been. What drives me to rodeo is I get to travel all over, and there’s a sense of freedom.”

Heger will put his talents to work the Rotary Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8, at MS Horse Park in Starkville. He will work cowboy protection alongside Kelby Pearah, another top young gun in the bullfighting game.

He is one of numerous versatile rodeo hands that are part of Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo. In addition to their bullfighting responsibilities, Heger, Kelby, Chris Kirby and Kenny Bergeron tackle many other tasks along the way to make sure each rodeo is produced professionally. From driving the animals from the ranch near Athens, Texas, to caring for the equine and bovine athletes, it’s serious business.

“In this business, you’ve got to be versatile,” said Kirby, of Kaufman, Texas. “In any business I’ve ever done, the more versatile you are the better.”

That definitely is true in rodeo.

“I love driving the semi,” said Pearah, of Mansfield, La. “I just like stock in general. It’s kind of a challenge. After we set up an arena, I like to go up top and see what we’ve done.

“There’s so much more involved in getting ready for a rodeo than most people understand. I get my own satisfaction out of the work we do, knowing that I can do it.”

For stock contractors like Pete Carr, livestock care is vital. The animal athletes need the greatest care in order to perform at a top level, and that’s where members of the Carr crew come in.

“Taking care of the animals is pretty simple really: Treat them better than you treat yourself,” Kirby said. “That’s how we make money. If you don’t have a good product, then people aren’t going to pay to watch your rodeo. Those animals are our product.

“With any business, you always treat your customers better than you treat yourself, so in this case, we want to do that with the animals. It’s a passion. It’s a love for what we do. For me, you see there’s something special in a horse. If I died and could come back as anything, I’d want to come back as a bucking horse, because they’re treated very well.”

Once the animals are situated and ready to work, the bullfighters go about their business of protecting everyone else in the arena during bull riding. Their assignments are to use their athleticism and understanding of the animals to direct the bulls attention away from the fallen bull riders.

“The best part about my job is going out there and knowing I can convince the beast to go after me instead of somebody else,” Kirby said.

It takes a lot of wherewithal to handle the task at hand. Sometimes it involves a bullfighter throwing his body into a wreck with hopes that everyone comes out unscathed.

“First and foremost, I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t given the God-given talent to be a bullfighter,” Heger said. “It’s a tool that allows me to get down the road to make a living, and I get to make a living doing something I love.”

That job is multi-layered. One doesn’t stare into the eyes of a beast without the knowhow and having something special in his heart.

“I love it, because I’ve got to do something for adrenaline,” Pearah said.

Maybe the rush is a big part, but the passion is part of what drives the best bullfighters in the game to make their living on the rodeo trail with Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo.

postheadericon RNCFR has entertainment value

Tickets for RNCFR, including Randy Rogers Band and Rodney Atkins, go on sale Feb. 7

GUTHRIE, Okla. – When the stars align in central Oklahoma, spectacular things occur.

Cody Wright

Cody Wright

That will be the case during the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for April 10-12 at the Lazy E Arena. It is the home of the sport’s biggest names – from world champions like Jake Barnes, Nick Sartain, Cody Wright, Bobby Mote, Cody Teel and Sherry Cervi – to the game’s rising stars.

Tickets for ProRodeo’s National Championship go on sale Friday, Feb. 7. Starting at just $20, tickets can be purchased by calling (800) 595-RIDE. Performances are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 11; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12.

With each ticket comes phenomenal action and amazing entertainment, including a couple of concerts that will be the perfect curtain call for one of the greatest Western events to hit the Oklahoma City metro area in some time. The Randy Rogers Band will perform at the conclusion of the Friday night performance, while Rodney Atkins will wrap the event Saturday night.

Bray Armes

Bray Armes

The five-member Randy Rogers Band has toured with the likes of Willie Nelson, the Eagles, Gary Allan and Dierks Bentley. The band presents a dynamic live act that fits a crowd ready for the overall excitement that is a rodeo and concert – especially one with as much prestige as the RNCFR. Atkins, whose song “Take A Back Road” has reached No. 1 on the charts, also brings a lot of electricity to the arena.

“We’ve got a great lineup with the Randy Rogers Band and Rodney Atkins, which is the perfect fit to the National Championship of ProRodeo,” said Robert Simpson, director of Express-Lazy E Sports Productions. “We are bringing it all together at the Lazy E, which was specifically built to host this kind of rodeo experience.”

In addition to the world champions, the RNCFR will host dozens of Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers, including 2013 average champions in Cervi, saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley and steer wrestler Bray Armes. It is a true showcase of rodeo’s elite, and it’s just what fans in central Oklahoma have come to expect.

Our Partners

RodeoMediaRelations

4BWebDesign

EverythingCowboy

Photos

twisTEDrodeoPhotos