Archive for December, 2014

postheadericon Be blessed in 2015

On these final few hours of 2014, it’s easy to reflect on what happened the previous 364 days.

Family-wise, there were multiple trips to the emergency room. That comes with having children, of course, but two of the four were with my wife. Fortunately all were resolved well, but not without staying a few nights in various hospitals. We pray that’s all behind us … at least for a little while.

World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, left, poses with tie-down roper Tyson Durfey and former NFL tight end Jay Novacek prior to the final round of the 2014 NFR. (PHOTO COURTESY OF TYSON DURFEY)

World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, left, poses with tie-down roper Tyson Durfey and former NFL tight end Jay Novacek prior to the final round of the 2014 NFR. (PHOTO COURTESY OF TYSON DURFEY)

Other than the few hiccups that came along the path, 2014 was an amazing year. I shared in the successes of my rodeo friends and got to cross off a bucket-list item attending a World Series game while watching my favorite team, the Kansas City Royals, play in the series. I also got to be on hand to witness a strong and powerful lefty win Game 1, then dominate the other two games in which he pitched.

By the way, that same Madison Baumgarner also is a team roper. I can’t help but marvel at him now. Throw in the fact that as a header, he ropes right-handed. That type of true ambidexterity, especially in athletics, is incredibly fascinating.

I pose with Carolyn Vietor, the WPRA president, with the 2014 Media Award. (PHOTO BY KENNETH SPRINGER)

I pose with Carolyn Vietor, the WPRA president, with the 2014 Media Award. (PHOTO BY KENNETH SPRINGER)

The year also was fabulous for me and my business, Rodeo Media Relations. I worked all the major ProRodeo events – the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. I got to do it all while experiencing my true passion: Telling rodeo stories and helping promote the sport.

I was honored by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association with its 2014 Media Award. One funny to that was on the day I receive the plaque, I stood on the stage in front of the top 15 barrel racers and hundreds of others as eight-time world champion Joe Beaver interviewed me. It was surreal; over the course of my career, I’ve interviewed Joe a couple dozen times, but that was the first time he’d interviewed me.

I also experienced some growing pains, but they are true lessons that I will carry with me as I move forward. With the right approach, we can take all the negatives we face and not only turn them into positives, but also grow because of the experience.

There is no way I can write something of this nature without mentioning the great Dirty Jacket, a 10-year-old bay gelding that I’ve written about and promoted for five years. Through my work with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, I’ve written about a lot of incredible animal athletes, but Dirty Jacket stands out. This year, he was named the 2014 Bareback Horse of the Year, a very deserving honor. It did my heart good to see that phenomenal athlete receive the honor, because he loves his job as much as I love mine.

Thanks to my girls for their unwavering support and love. I’m blessed beyond measure. May we all be as blessed in 2015.

postheadericon A Minor adjustment


OKLAHOMA CITY – Shawn Minor approaches rodeo much like a factory-worker.

“I just want to be a rodeo cowboy,” said Minor, a 21-time International Professional Rodeo Association world champion from Camden, Ohio. “I have a wife and two kids, and I’ve got to provide for them. That means winning at rodeos. If you don’t win, you don’t get paid and don’t make a living.”

He’s done pretty well at it. Since his rookie season, Minor has qualified every year for the International Finals Rodeo. He returns for the 12th time to IFR 45, set for Jan. 16-18 at Jim Norick State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

Shawn Minor

Shawn Minor

He owns nine all-round gold buckles, eight bareback riding titles and four saddle bronc riding championships. He will roll into Oklahoma City in mid-January No. 1 in all three categories.

“I’ve been playing this game since I was 13, and I’ve learned the ropes,” he said. “I’ve been through the failure and success. I know how to do this deal.”

That has paid off quite well. He has earned nearly $61,000 riding bucking horses in the IPRA.

“A lot of people told me I couldn’t make a living rodeoing, and I set out to prove them wrong,” said Minor, 39, who first qualified for the IFR in his late 20s. “I never set out to win world titles. I just wanted to be known as a good cowboy, in the arena and out.

“My success that I’ve had has just been the topping of the cake. I feel pretty lucky, but I probably work harder at it than most people work in their lifetime. When it comes to riding bucking horses, I would eat it, sleep it, dream about it. I would wake up in the morning, then go out and saddle a colt that I knew bucked. It’s all in how bad you want something.”

He travels North America in order to compete in the sport he loves. He mounts about 200 bucking horses a year. Some years, he has to really work at his job to make it pay off. That was 2014.

“This was not really one of my better years,” he said. “I won a lot, but I won a lot of second- and third-place checks. I didn’t draw the one on them (to win on often). Last year I couldn’t draw a bad one; this year I had to work pretty hard.”

Work is nothing new to Minor, who grew up on a ranch near Gordon, Neb., in the state’s northwest corner, just a stone’s throw from the South Dakota border. He attended a country school that had about half a dozen students in kindergarten-eighth grade. In fact, he started driving himself to school when he was about 8 years old.

“They wired 2-by-4s to the pedals, the clutch, brake and gas,” said Minor, who also rode horses to class. “I broke a lot of ponies and colts to ride going back and forth to school.”

Now nearing 40, he continues to make his presence known in the game he’s played since he was a youngster.

“Being in so many wrecks in my lifetime – as far as bucking horses flipping over or whatever – I’ve just learned to steer clear of a lot of that stuff,” he said. “I think a lot of that is just experience, and I’ve had a lot of it.

“You tend to get pretty savvy to that kind of stuff.”

He also has learned a traditional trait of most cowboys; he can block out pain long enough to make the rides necessary. Of course, there’s no other way a man has a chance at his 22nd, 23rd and 24th gold buckles during the 25th anniversary IFR in Oklahoma City.

“It’s all in your head, because rodeo is such a mental game,” Minor said. “If you don’t have a strong mind and a big heart, you’re probably never going to go very far in rodeo.”

Minor has come a long ways in his rodeo career, and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down any time soon.

postheadericon There’s no step with us this Christmas

Laney and Ted laugh at his reaction to the beautiful words she wrote to him this Christmas. It wasn't just Ted; Laney did that with all her thoughtful presents. Her insights are meaningful to all those who have received her thoughts. (LYNETTE HARBIN PHOTO)

Laney and Ted laugh at his reaction to the beautiful words she wrote to him this Christmas. It wasn’t just Ted; Laney did that with all her thoughtful presents. Her insights are meaningful to all those who have received her thoughts. (LYNETTE HARBIN PHOTO)

For me, Christmas is always about family, reflection and showing my love for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Family is the perfect way to see God’s love for us. It’s evident in the eyes of our children, in their laughter, in the beauty that is my wife. This year has been exceptional in that regard; save the flu that has wrapped its not-so-loving arms around my youngest daughter.

What you need to read today is not my diatribe, but the words presented to me by my oldest daughter, who will be 13 in mid-March. She’s wise beyond her years. She came into my life when she was 3 years old; she came into my heart moments after I met the vibrant little girl with an amazing personality.

She is my step-daughter, though we’ve never allowed that word to interfere with our relationship. Here are her words, etched on a frame that covers a 2009 photo of her and me at a Royals game:

Real Dad

Some people would say you’re not my real dad, but I know that’s not fully true, for you’ve been a real dad to me in all the things we’ve been through. We’ve had our ups and downs; sometimes it’s hard to bend, but you’ve always been there when I’ve needed you. And that’s what matters in the end. I’m eternally grateful to you, because you’ve treated me as your own. For though we’re not tied by blood, instead the love and trust you’ve given me. That’s what counts you as a real dad.

Love Laney

postheadericon A true International Finals


OKLAHOMA CITY – The International Finals Rodeo has grown in to a true international championship.

Of the 126 contestants that have qualified to compete at IFR 45 from Jan. 16-18 at the Jim Norick State Fair Arena, two dozen are from other countries. That serves as a great reminder of the world-wide draw of professional rodeo.

“We’re celebrating our 65th year as an organization,” said Dale Yerigan, president of Oklahoma City-based International Professional Rodeo Association. “Every year, we are seeing more and more of our IFR contestants coming from all over the world.”

IFR2014LogoRedDateThe largest contingent is from the Canadian province of Quebec, home of the IPRA’s largest regular-season event, Festival Western de St. Tite, in the community about 120 miles northeast of Montreal. Nine cowboys are from the neighboring province of Ontario, and one is from New South Wales, Australia.

The list of contestants is much more than an international flair. Cody Mousseau of Aylmer, Ontario, is making a run at multiple world championships; he has qualified in tie-down roping steer wrestling and team roping heading. He trails nine-time and reigning all-around champion Shawn Minor by about $8,700 in the all-around standings.

“Cody’s a pretty good hand who works all the timed events,” said Shawn Minor, a 21-time IPRA world champion from Camden, Ohio. “He’s had a good year, but he’s rodeoed his butt off and worked hard at it.”

Mousseau leads the steer wrestling standings, about $1,600 ahead of Brian Barefoot of Dunn, N.C., and sits No. 2 in both heading and tie-down roping; he is just less than $4,000 behind Justin Thigpen of Waycross, Ga., in tie-down roping and less than $1,000 behind Jacob Dagenhart of Statesville, N.C., in heading.

Of the 15 qualifiers in bull riding, most are Canadians. Rookie Garrett Tribble of Bristow, Okla., has secured his first IPRA world championship with nearly $38,000 in season earnings, but nine Canucks are making their way to Oklahoma City. Eric Isabelle of St. Julienne, Quebec, is the No. 2 bull rider in the standings, followed by four more Canadians.

“I think having so many international contestants at the International Finals Rodeo is a great thing,” Minor said. “To be able to go to all them rodeos up there is great for us. You have to drive your butt off, and you’ll have road rash when you get there, but when you get on and ride some of those good horses, they’re going to pay you and make it worth your while.”

The IPRA sanctions a number of Canadian rodeos, primarily in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Contestants can compete on just a Canadian card or a full IPRA card, which then allows them to compete at events in the United States.

“It’s a great move for rodeo and great for the IPRA,” Minor said. “That’s really stepped up the game.”

postheadericon Durfey closes 2014 with NFR check

LAS VEGAS – The National Finals Rodeo is no different than any of the numerous trips across the country for tie-down roper Tyson Durfey.

Along the way, a cowboy will experience the highs and lows – the trips to the peaks of the mountaintops followed by the ever-braking skids to the valleys with those rides along the plateaus. That describes Durfey’s NFR to a tee. He roped and tied down eight of 10 calves in a qualified time but placed just three times. In all, he earned a shade more than $19,000 in Las Vegas.

Tyson Durfey

Tyson Durfey

Still, he moved up one spot to 14th in the world standings, and earning almost $20,000 in 10 days is an outstanding paycheck for most.

Durfey, though, expects better. He knows what it takes to win go-rounds, much less just place in them. He’s placed as high as third in the average standings, that coming in 2009. He has finished the season among the top five in the world standings.

“To me, rodeoing is all about keeping your mind centrally located, trying not to let your emotions take over,” said Durfey, who grew up near Savannah, Mo., still claims Colbert, Wash., as home and spends a good portion of his time in Weatherford, Texas.

That worked for the most part.

Durfey placed in the second go-round, then just missed the pay window in Rounds 3-4. He returned to the top in the sixth go-round before suffering back-to-back no-times. A 10-second broken barrier in the ninth round could’ve derailed everything, but he bounced back quite well on the final night of the 2014 season, Saturday, Dec. 13.

Durfey roped and tied his calf in 7.3 seconds to finish in a tie for third place with Reese Reimer. How fast was the final round? That same time would’ve won four other go-rounds.

“Rodeo is such a funny sport, but I couldn’t do this without my sponsors,” he said, noting his agreements with Next IT Corp., Zoetis Animal Health, Pro Vision Equine Digital Surveillance, Cinch, Corral Boots, Logan Coach Horse Trailers, Willbros Group Inc., Swift Transportation, HR Workplace Services, Priefert and Silver Lining Herbs.

“There are so many variables in roping that you just have to take what you get.”

postheadericon Scheer finishes 2014 strong

LAS VEGAS – Cort Scheer entered the 2014 National Finals Rodeo with hopes of a world championship.

Instead, he pocketed more than $93,000 over the 10 days of ProRodeo’s grand championship event and left Las Vegas with a big piece of disappointment. How can that be?

Cort Scheer

Cort Scheer

He needed $10,000 more.

Instead, he finished the season No. 2 in the world standings with $195,586, $9,800 behind world champion Spencer Wright of Milford, Utah. It was a fantastic finish for the gold buckle, and it came down to the final round to decide the champion.

Scheer, 28, of Elsmere, Neb., placed in five go-rounds, including a first-round victory. He also finished second in the average behind Wright – they were the only two men to ride all 10 horses; it marked the second straight season Scheer finished second in the average and rode all 10 broncs at the NFR. By finishing with 764 cumulative points, he added $39,537 in average money.

Scheer, who attended Montana State University, Garden City (Kan.) Community College and Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships, had a strong NFR. The main difference between first and second was their payoffs in the average. Still Wright – who brought his bronc riding family their fourth gold buckle, joining big brothers Cody (2) and Jesse – earned more than $145,000 in Sin City.

None of that takes away from the exceptional season Scheer had in 2014. In the PRCA alone, he had eight event titles, including big-rodeo victories in Pendleton, Ore., and Denver. He also added championships at Cinch Shoot-Outs throughout the season.

That all added up to a great way to make a living on the backs of bucking horses. But that’s what fans have come to expect of Scheer, who has been among the top 5 in the final world standings each of the past two seasons. He has consistently been one of ProRodeo’s elite bronc riders – the only season in which he hasn’t made the NFR came in 2011 when he suffered a knee injury and finished 25th.

Where he goes from here remains to be seen, but he’s proven a gold buckle is within reach.

Now he just needs to grasp it.

postheadericon Stampede tabbed rodeo of the year

Members of the Will Rogers Stampede Rodeo committee pose with dignitaries during an awards ceremony on Dec. 3 in Las Vegas, where the committee was recognized as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association small rodeo of the year. Pictured are, from left, Miss Rodeo America Paige Nicholson, Bob Morton, Dawn Petty, David Petty and Steve Miller with Montana Silversmiths.

Members of the Will Rogers Stampede Rodeo committee pose with dignitaries during an awards ceremony on Dec. 3 in Las Vegas, where the committee was recognized as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association small rodeo of the year. Pictured are, from left, Miss Rodeo America Paige Nicholson, Bob Morton, Dawn Petty, David Petty and Steve Miller with Montana Silversmiths.

CLAREMORE, Okla. – David Petty was in shock and couldn’t think of the words to say; his wife, Dawn, couldn’t stop crying. Bob Morton just grinned and took it all in.

Their hearts and souls – countless man-hours – have gone into the labor of love they call the Will Rogers Stampede. Claremore’s rodeo had just been named the 2014 small rodeo of the year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, determined by a vote of the organization’s membership and announced during the PRCA’s annual awards banquet on Dec. 3 in Las Vegas, held in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“This is a tremendous honor for us,” said Petty, chairman of the volunteer committee that organizes the rodeo every Memorial Day weekend. “We have a small group of people who work really hard every year to put on this rodeo for our community.

“Two years ago, we hired Pete Carr and his crew to produce the rodeo, and that’s made a major difference in the rodeo. It feels like all our years of hard work are paying off, and the people of Rogers County and surrounding areas can enjoy a world-class rodeo right here in Claremore, Oklahoma. It’s humbling to share this national spotlight with the Daddy of ’em All, Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days, and rodeos like Deadwood (S.D.) Days and the San Antonio Stock Show.”

PRCA members felt the same way. Rodeos are classified in four categories: small, medium, large and large indoor. The small-rodeo category encompasses more than 400 PRCA rodeos nationwide and allows the smaller committees to be judged with events of the same size.

“We’ve been blessed to have produced that rodeo the last couple of years,” said Pete Carr, owner of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo. “That’s one of the hardest working committees in rodeo, and I’m glad to see they were recognized this year. Those people have earned that award.”

Carr was nominated for stock contractor of the year, while other pieces of the 2014 Stampede also were recognized: Sandy Gwatney was nominated for secretary of the year, while entertainer John Harrison earned the Coors Man in the Can and the Comedy Act of the Year awards.

Days later, Miss Rodeo Oklahoma Lauren Heaton became the first Oklahoma cowgirl to be crowned Miss Rodeo America; she, too, was part of the pageantry that is the Will Rogers Stampede.

“Claremore was part of my 10-day Oklahoma run,” she said. “That’s such a great rodeo that had John and Sandy Gwatney working with Pete Carr; all three of them are working the finals. John Harrison was the clown there.

“That shows me that Claremore is putting on a phenomenal rodeo. They know what they need to do and where they need to be headed. I’m really excited to see Claremore win that award.”

postheadericon Cord McCoy’s Western Days



LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – Cord McCoy has traveled around the world three times and has crisscrossed this country more times than he can count.

The Oklahoma cowboy made a name for himself as a professional rodeo cowboy. He owns qualifications to the National Finals Rodeo, the Professional Bull Riders World Finals and the International Finals Rodeo, the latter of which is where he won five IPRA world titles.

“As I’ve traveled around, from Cheyenne to Calgary, some of my favorite events seem to be festivals,” said McCoy, who, with his brother, Jet, appeared three times on the CBS-TV reality series “The Amazing Race.” “I just love the Western people, the Western events, the Western way of life.”

He has produced bull-riding events and been to countless rodeos. He knows the attraction people have with the West.

“When I saw the Sycamore Springs Ranch and looked at its 1,900-acres of an exotic ranch, I wanted to share that with the world,” he said.

That’s how he and ranch owner Jerry Rush came up with Cord McCoy’s Western Days, which will take place on the land south of Locust Grove from April 16-19, 2015.

“We will have four arenas going simultaneously,” McCoy said. “We will have every event that you can think of and maybe more.”

As with any festival, there will be a variety of events: a trade show, cowboy poets, a competition trail run, an exotic trail ride a bareback riding clinic with world champion Kelly Timberman and a Professional Roughstock Series event that serves as a qualifier to The American all kicks off opening day.

“We want to have a lot of events, because we want to appeal to just about everybody’s interests,” McCoy said. “We’d love for everybody to take in as much as they can, because they’ll get a great feel for the Western way of life. We’ll have a rodeo and a barn dance every night to close it all out.”


THURSDAY, April 16, 2015
Noon: Sycamore Springs Ranch Welcome Reception
Noon: Western Music with The A-Bar Bunkhouse Band
Noon: Chuck Wagon Cook Off Lunch
12-7 p.m.: Western Trade Days Trade Show 
2 p.m.: Cowboy Poet in Mule Barn
3 p.m.: Competition Trail Run
3 p.m.: FREE Bareback Riding Clinic w/ Kelly Timberman
5 p.m. THE AMERICAN QUALIFIER w/ Pro Rough Stock
5 p.m.: Exotic Trail Ride across 1200 Acres
7:30 p.m.: Nightly Rodeo 
10 p.m.: Barn Dance in The Mule Barn

FRIDAY, April 17, 2015
9 a.m.-7 p.m.: Western Trade Days Trade Show
10 a.m.: Numbered Team Roping
10 a.m.: Exotic Trail Ride 1200 Acres
Noon: Chuck Wagon Cook Off Lunch
1 p.m.: Ranch Sorting
3 p.m.: Competition Trail Run
3 p.m.: Mounted Shooting
3 p.m.: Steer Roping
4 p.m.: Competition Trail Run 
5 p.m.: Exotic Trail Ride 1200 Acres
7 p.m.: Nightly Rodeo 
10 p.m.: Barn Dance in The Mule Barn

SATURDAY, April 18, 2015
8 a.m.: Horse Sale Preview
10 a.m.: Silver Select Horse Sale
10 a.m.: Numbered Team Roping
10 a.m.: Exotic Trail Ride 1200 Acres
Noon: Chuck Wagon Cook Off Lunch
1 p.m.: Ranch Sorting
3 p.m.: Competition Trail Run
5 p.m.: Exotic Trail Ride 1200 Acres
7 p.m.: Nightly Rodeo 
10 p.m.: Barn Dance in The Mule Barn

SUNDAY, April 19, 2015
9 a.m.: Western Worship Service
10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Western Trade Days Trade Show
10 a.m.: Barrel Racing
10 a.m.: Numbered Team Roping
10 a.m.: Exotic Trail Ride 1200 Acres
10 a.m.: Ranch Rodeo
Noon: Chuck Wagon Cook Off Lunch

postheadericon Pierce earned big money in Vegas

LAS VEGAS – Barrel racer Carlee Pierce has made more money in Las Vegas during her two previous qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Carlee Pierce

Carlee Pierce

She never had a better 10 days.

On Saturday night, the Edmond, Okla., cowgirl raced around the cloverleaf pattern in 13.97 seconds to place third in the 10th go-round, adding $11,340 to her payroll. More importantly, she held on to sixth in the average with a cumulative time of 151.61 seconds, which paid her another $12,000. She finished the NFR with $63,750.

“That is the first time I have ever won an average check,” said Pierce, who rode all 10 nights on Streakin Easy April, a 6-year-old sorrel mare she calls Lolo. “I had no expectations this year because my horses were so young, so I’m beyond tickled to have such a good finals.”

The talented tandem placed in six go-rounds. Pierce finished the season with $154,181, sixth in the world standings.

“I’m very excited about the future with Lolo,” she said. “I knew she had the ability, but she proved to me this week that she’s ready. That’s awesome.”

postheadericon Champion finishes ’14 at No. 3

LAS VEGAS – The Nevada desert was a pretty good home for bareback rider Richmond Champion.

Over 10 days, Champion rode bucking horses to the tune of $108,140, pushing his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association season earnings to nearly $200,000. He placed six of the last seven go-rounds at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, including two round wins. He also finished second in the average, scoring a cumulative total of 814.5 points.

Richmond Champion

Richmond Champion

The biggest accolade, though, came in the form of a third-place finish in the year-end standings, being crowned the third best bareback rider behind to the hottest man in the game, four-time reigning gold buckle winner Kaycee Field.

“It’s nuts,” said Champion, who earned $1.3 million this season riding bareback horses, all but $200,000 of which came from winning the title at a non-PRCA event, The American. “I was just sitting in the locker room trying to wrap my head around this whole deal. Everybody was congratulating me, but I couldn’t tell you what I did yesterday. This week’s gone by so fast.

“All of the sudden, you blink your eyes, and you’re here; blink your eyes again, and you’re leaving. I never would’ve imagined it would go like this.”

Only Feild earned more money than Champion among bareback riders. That’s quite a statement to the NFR rookie. He finished with a bang, too, riding Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Scarlet Fever for 85 points to finish in a three-way tie for third place in the 10th round.

“I think I had my ups and downs, but toward the end, I think I made up for it,” said Champion, of The Woodlands, Texas. “It wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit to make a drive over to Las Vegas again next year. I’m going to take a few days and re-access what I want to do, but obviously next year I’m going to go after that gold buckle. That’s my No. 1 goal.”

That’s a pretty good one to have. Champion came closer to catching Feild than anyone else, so his goals need to be pretty high.

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