Archive for January, 2016

postheadericon Dudley brings comedy to rodeo

McALESTER, Okla. – Most cowboys dream of gold buckles, while singers hope for Grammys and actors pray for Oscars.

Johnny Dudley is not an ordinary athlete or entertainer.

“All the buckles and glory and big rodeos are things that most rodeo clowns want, but I just want people to say I’m a good guy,” said Dudley, who will be the featured entertainer/barrelman during the Choctaw Casino’s McAlester ProRodeo Presented by Sam Wampler’s Freedom Ford, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Feb. 12-13, at the Southeast Expo Center.

Johnny Dudley

Johnny Dudley

“I’d say the first 10 years of my career, all I cared about was getting to work the NFR. Now I’d rather just be a good dude.”

That good dude is pretty talented. Known by his moniker of “Backflip,” Dudley is part comedian and part bullfighter all mixed in greasepaint. He travels the rodeo trail with a passion for entertaining folks of all ages.

“The best part of my job is the smile of a child,” he said. “I love being able to go to different towns and put smiles on people’s faces. I also like to do volunteer work, helping other people.”

That’s something he has done most of his life. Raised in Dayton, Texas, by a single mother, he began working to support his family at age 14. A few years later, he joined the Marine Corps, serving eight years between being an active Marine and a reservist. In fact, it was while he was in the Marines that he decided to be a rodeo clown.

While attending a rodeo at Marine Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina, Dudley closely watched the clown and found the showman to his liking. Once he got out of the Marine Corps in the early 2000s, he went back to Dayton and began his career. He began as a bullfighter, then transitioned into the role he carries with him from one rodeo to another.

“In 2002, I quit my job,” he said. “I was in college with some money from the Montgomery GI Bill. Once I graduated college, I was doing well enough rodeoing that I was able to support myself with that.”

It took off from there. Now he utilizes six comedy acts as he entertains audiences at rodeos all across the country. He takes lessons taught him by other rodeo clowns, including establish comedians Lecile Harris and Rudy Burns.

“I’m kind of an old school guy trying to twist new school things in there,” Dudley said.

Part of that new-fangled stuff would be showcasing his athleticism, hence the nickname. Now 37, Dudley likes to shock the audience with his gymnastics talent. When he was younger, it was part of his arsenal as a freestyle bullfighter.

“That ‘Backflip’ name was awesome when I was 22,” he said. “Luckily I’m still athletic enough to do it.”

Dudley has adjusted his rodeo schedule a little this year to stay closer to his Denton, Texas, home. He and his wife, Emily, have a 2-year-old son, Jase, and another child on the way.

“It’s a tough life when you’re on the road as much as I can be,” he said. “They love me and try to travel with me when they can. With my wife having her own tack business and juggling that with taking care of a 2-year-old and pregnant with another child, it’s just too much for them to go with me.

“Within the last couple of years, I was trying to get to the NFR. Now I’d rather stay closer to the house.”

He also gets to continue his anti-bullying campaign, which is a major part of who Johnny Dudley is. Dudley will be part of school assemblies on Thursday, Feb. 11; he will be at Will Rogers Elementary from 9-9:30 a.m., Emerson Elementary from 9:50-10:20 a.m. and Edmond Doyle Elementary from 10:40-11:10 a.m.

“I love doing that kind of stuff,” Dudley said. “I get to meet a lot of people that way. I get to be part of some really cool things. (Recently) I drove two and a half hours on a Saturday to be a quarterback at a handicapped football game. That’s stuff most people don’t get to do, and I’m blessed that I have the opportunity to do it.”

postheadericon Rodeo brings community together

McALESTER, Okla. – There are many attractive things about this community.

“We’re the largest city in southeast Oklahoma with 18,000 people,” said Jeff Warmuth, the president and CEO of the McAlester Area Chamber of Commerce. “We feel like we’ve got a town of 40,000, because people come in from other communities to shop and to work. It’s a small town with a big-town appeal.”

Jeff Warmuth

Jeff Warmuth

As the regional hub, McAlester also serves as a premier home to exciting activities, including the Choctaw Casino’s McAlester ProRodeo Presented by Sam Wampler’s Freedom Ford, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Feb. 12-13, at the Southeast Expo Center.

This is the newest in a long line of world-class events to be showcased in Pittsburg County, but rodeo is nothing new to McAlester. In fact, the community was a showcase for the Oklahoma State Penitentiary Rodeo for decades. The prison rodeo was discontinued following the 2009 event.

“Rodeo has a strong history in Oklahoma, and it’s strong in this area of the state,” Warmuth said. “Rodeo is sort of like a hometown team. All of these towns have a heritage of winning traditions. All of those communities have somebody famous that was a rodeo athlete. I think it’s important for those communities to show pride and to not forget those superstars that they’ve produced.”

A one-hour drive in any direction of McAlester will reveal communities that can boast of ProRodeo world champions. That’s a pretty strong legacy.

“It’s an honor for us to be that regional hub surrounded by all that talent and all that history,” Warmuth said. “It’s cool to even put on an event of this size and reach out to those communities.”

People in those communities are used to making their ways to McAlester, whether it’s for CultureFest or Western Days.

“We also have the second-longest running armed forces parade in May,” Warmuth said. “It’s a two-day event, saluting all the armed forces, all branches of the military.”

Those types of the events not only bring people to town but also instill a high level of community pride. That’s just what chamber members want to see out of the McAlester ProRodeo. Though the inaugural event is planned for just two days in mid-February, there is always room for growth.

“I would like for the rodeo to be the event in the community in five years,” Warmuth said. “I’d like to see families plan to come to this year after year, that this is what they look forward to.

“We also want to tie other things into it as well. We’re trying to create an atmosphere and an event that people want to come to every year.”

That’s just what the community deserves.

postheadericon McCoy is back in the saddle

He may have retired from bull riding two years ago, but Cord McCoy never retired from being a cowboy.

McCoy, a six-time PBR World Finals qualifier who also earned a bull riding qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2005, has gained fame through his three stints on the CBS-TV reality series, “The Amazing Race.” On the program, he and his brother, Jet, were fan favorites all three seasons in which they competed for the $1 million prize.

Cord McCoy

Cord McCoy

On Saturday night, Cord McCoy began another race toward another $1 million prize, competing in saddle bronc riding at the World’s Toughest Rodeo in Moline, Ill. The event served as a qualifier for The American semifinals.

McCoy sent a text late Saturday that he was bucked off his horse in Moline. He will take another shot at qualifying for The American at next weekend’s World’s Toughest Rodeo in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

His ride atop Three Hills Rodeo’s Pearl Snaps on Saturday marked the first time since September 2004 that McCoy has ridden a bronc in competition. He made a name for himself in rodeo by competing in all three roughstock events.

He earned five International Professional Rodeo Associations titles doing so: He earned the IPRA’s Triple Crown for 2002 by winning the all-around, saddle bronc riding and bull riding gold buckles. That year he also set an IPRA earnings mark with more than $100,000 in earnings. He returned to the top in the all-around and bronc riding in the 2003 season.

The last time McCoy competed in bronc riding, he suffered a serious head injury when he was bucked off his horse during the short go-round at the Oklahoma State Fair PRCA Rodeo. As he fell toward the ground, the horse kicked his back feet, with one connecting the side of the cowboy’s head.

Though he recovered, McCoy focused his attention on bull riding. He mounted his first bull in competition seven months after his injury, in April 2005. He did well enough that year to earn his only qualification to the NFR. He then turned his attention toward the PBR until retiring from it in 2013.

Now he’s in another race for a big payout. Anybody that knows him isn’t surprised.

postheadericon Injury sidelines Kirchenschlager

GUTHIRE, Okla. – Dakota Kirchenschlager was excited to compete at the CINCH Timed Event Championship.

Dakota Kirchenschlager

Dakota Kirchenschlager

After re-aggravating a shoulder injury recently, the two-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier will miss this year’s Timed Event, set for March 4-6 at the Lazy E Arena. He will be replaced by another heeler, Jim Ross Cooper, a two-time TEC competitor who has qualified for the NFR five times in his career.

“My bulldogging performance in the past has embarrassed me there,” said Cooper, son of three-time Timed Event champion Jimmie Cooper, the 1981 PRCA all-around world champion and a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. “It’s a mountain I have to climb, because I don’t like the feeling of something getting the best of me, so I’m going to have another go at it.”

Jim Ross Cooper

Jim Ross Cooper

Jim Ross Cooper grew up at the TEC, where his father won titles in 1988, ’92 and ’94. The younger Cooper was part of the 20-man field in 2011 and 2012. Now he’s hoping for a little redemption as he carries on the Cooper legacy inside the Lazy E Arena.

“It’s one of the coolest events of the year for rodeo,” said Cooper of Monument, N.M. “There’s a lot more technical difficulty to it and a lot of cowboy to it. As much as it brings out the best all-around cowboy in rodeo – which is why Trevor Brazile has won it so many times – it shows who has the ability to adjust to the challenges, be mentally tough and figure it out.”

The CIINCH Timed Event Championship features 20 of the top cowboys competing in all five timed-event disciplines. It is called the “Ironman of ProRodeo,” because of the grueling tasks assigned to each cowboy over a five-round championship conducted over just three days.

postheadericon ProRodeo returning to McAlester

McALESTER, Okla. – For the first time since 2009, professional rodeo is returning to McAlester.

Local officials have teamed with Hi Lo ProRodeo to produce and promote the Choctaw Casino’s McAlester ProRodeo Presented by Sam Wampler’s Freedom Ford, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Feb. 12-13, at the Southeast Expo Center.

“McAlester is a rodeo town, and people here are excited about it,” said Jeff Warmuth, the president and CEO of the McAlester Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve already put some information on Facebook, and we’ve had a lot of people commenting and sharing that information. You can really sense the excitement.”

Jeff Warmuth

Jeff Warmuth

The rodeo is the perfect match for McAlester. The largest town in southeastern Oklahoma with a population of about 18,000, it is a regional hub for a number of other communities in the region.

“I think the way the chambers look at themselves today in a regional footprint, our members are not bound by city limits,” Warmuth said. “Communication is not bound by city limits. We can reach a lot of people in the surrounding 120-mile radius. It gives our community an opportunity to show off something great.”

As most folks in this part of the world know, the McAlester ProRodeo will be a true display of family-friendly entertainment mixed with world-class competition. Oklahoma is well known for its rodeo prowess, with world champions coming from all corners of the Sooner State.

As part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the event will feature the very best in the game, including the team from Hi Lo ProRodeo, the fastest growing rodeo company in the United States. In fact, the McAlester ProRodeo is the brainchild of Dustin Murray, a former PRCA bareback rider who now serves as the Hi Lo ProRodeo general manager.

“Dustin brought it to our attention, and we really weren’t looking for an event of this scale at the time,” Warmuth said. “The Chamber of Commerce has a history of helping put on the prison rodeo in McAlester. The last prison rodeo was in 2009, but the chamber had been involved for many years.

“By bringing up the idea of having another rodeo in McAlester, it brought up the memories of what the chamber had with those prison rodeos, so we gravitated toward it. There are a lot of people excited for rodeo to come back to McAlester. This is the first step in bringing rodeo back to our community. We’re looking for capacity seating on both nights. We have good seating and excellent ticket prices, and we’re going to have great talent.”

That talent includes “Backflip” Johnny Dudley, an athletic former Marine who provides comic relief through both performances. As a barrelman and entertainer, he showcases a mixture of comedic acts and timing with his natural athleticism.

The McAlester ProRodeo will be a first-class operation. About 700 yards of dirt and 35 tons of portable rodeo arena will be taken into the expo center for the event. In addition, a video board will be in use to give fans that another viewpoint and to showcase replays of the runs, rides and antics that take place inside the building.

“We believe in Hi Lo productions,” Warmuth said. “We have a good feeling about them as an organization, and we’ve already demonstrated that we’re able to get sponsors excited about this event. We can see the future where this can be a three-day event for our community.

“We want to make sure the families are getting a lot of value out of the event. We have hopes about growing this rodeo into more days and more opportunities and growing that excitement in McAlester. Once it’s over, we want the community to be ready to buy tickets for the one next year.”

It’s been more than six years since Pittsburg County hosted a ProRodeo. The time is right for new beginnings.

postheadericon Tate Branch cowboys eager for 2016

Attitude says as much about a cowboy as any skill he might possess.

The rodeo trail is long and winding and features many obstacles and road blocks along the way. If allowed, one bad run can turn into another. Having a positive approach is vital in the game, and that’s why the top cowboys maintain a solid mental focus.

Clint Cooper

Clint Cooper

“Not making the finals this last year put me in a different position,” said Clint Cooper, a five-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifying tie-down roper who grew up in Lovington, N.M. “To go back to Las Vegas and watch the finals from the stands was a little different. It has definitely served as a motivation for me.

“I think 2016 is going to be a big year, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Clint Cooper, who now lives in Decatur, Texas, is one of seven ProRodeo cowboys who are part of the Tate Branch Auto Group “Riding for the Brand” team, joining his tie-down roping brother Clif and their legendary father, Roy; steer roper Marty Jones; saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy, a two-time world champion; and team roping twins Jake and Jim Ross Cooper.

All have ties to New Mexico, just like the auto group, which has dealerships in Carlsbad, Artesia and Hobbs. The Tate Branch relationship with the cowboys has been a major piece of the puzzle as they make their ways across North America chasing their gold buckle dreams. Having a reliable and dependable vehicle is just one aspect of what it takes to make it from one rodeo to the next.

Jake Cooper

Jake Cooper

“I learned a lot last year,” said header Jake Cooper of Monument, N.M., who earned his second NFR qualification in 2015. “With hard work and determination, you can reach your goals. I tried not to let anything bother me as much. If things went bad, I just tried to do my job.”

It worked pretty well. He added nearly $42,000 to his season earnings by making it to Las Vegas this past December, placing in two NFR go-rounds. That included a second-place finish on the final night of the 2015 season with partner Russell Cardoza.

“We caught in the ninth round, then made a nice run in the 10th round to leave there on a high note,” said Jake Cooper, who will begin the 2016 campaign by partnering with heeler York Gill. “It makes you a little hungrier. You’re hungry to do well when you’re not being successful. When you do have a little taste of success, it makes you want it a little bit more.”

Of course, it helps that Jake has a strong will to go with his talent.

“My dad is the ultimate positive guy,” Jake said of Jimmie Cooper, the 1981 all-around world champion and a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. “I got a lot of that from him, and I always believe it’s going to turn around for the better.”

In addition to his two gold buckles, Muncy has now qualified for the finale eight times in the last nine years. The one year he missed the championship event was because of an injury. He has and will remain among the elite bronc riders in the game as long as he continues to compete.

Jim Ross Cooper

Jim Ross Cooper

The same can be said about Jones and Clif Cooper. No 50, Jones has two NFR qualifications in tie-down roping on his resume, coming in 1992 and ’94. He also is a 14-time qualifier to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping. He has remained among the leaders in steer roping for more than two decades.

Clif Cooper is a four-time NFR qualifier who has missed out on the finals each of the past two seasons. He knows how important it is to take a strong mental approach to the business of roping. That’s what has allowed Jim Ross Cooper to qualify for the finals five times.

“Talent trumps everything, but your attitude and work ethic and ambition matters a lot in this game,” said Jim Cooper, a heeler. “Joel (Bach) and I didn’t quite make it last year. I’m starting this year with a new partner, and I’m excited about that.”

He will begin the season with JoJo LeMond of Andrews, Texas, who finished the 2015 regular season 16th in the world standings. He was promoted to the NFR after seven-time world champion header Jake Barnes suffered a serious roping accident just days before the start of the 10-round finale.

“I’m excited about the year, especially getting to rope with JoJo,” Jim Cooper said. “He had a really good showing at the NFR, and he’s due to break out and show people the talent he has. I just want to be a consistent heeler for him and let him be the hero.”

That’s the attitude that makes these cowboys the best in the business.

postheadericon A true cowboy’s event

TOP ALL-AROUND HANDS TO BATTLE FOR CINCH TIMED EVENT CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE

GUTHRIE, Okla. – There is one main reason the top 20 cowboys in the game look forward to the CINCH Timed Event Championship, set for March 6-8 at the Lazy E Arena.

“I think it’s the best event going,” said JoJo LeMond, a TEC regular from Andrews, Texas. “I think it’s a true cowboy’s event; a guy has got to be good at multiple courses and not just concerned with one event. Then there’s the consistency of it by running 25 head; a guy’s got to have patience to get through it.”

JoJo LeMond

JoJo LeMond

Dubbed the “Ironman of ProRodeo,” the CINCH Timed Event Championship features the 20 best all-around timed-event cowboys competing in all five timed-event disciplines: team roping-heading, team roping-heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping. It’s a grueling test of ability, horsemanship, endurance and mental toughness.

“It shows who the more versatile cowboy is,” said Paul David Tierney, the 2014 TEC champion from Oral, S.D.; he also is a two-time runner-up. “It’s tough on your body, but you’ve got to be mentally tough to keep it all together.”

Paul David Tierney

Paul David Tierney

Tierney is one of just 12 men to have been crowned champion in the most unique event in rodeo. He follows in the footsteps of his father, four-time winner Paul Tierney, a ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee and two-time PRCA world champion.

“This is special to me because I’ve been here since I was born,” said the younger Tierney, 26. “I grew up watching it and cheering my dad on.”

This year’s field will feature the top two cowboys in the 2015 PRCA all-around standings: Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, and LeMond. Brazile earned his record 13th all-around gold buckle and sixth steer roping championship en route to his record 23rd world title; he qualified for the National Finals last season in steer roping, heading and tie-down roping.

“He is a top 15 contender in every event he chooses to be in,” LeMond said of Brazile, who owns a record seven TEC buckles.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

LeMond earned his second straight trip to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, then competed at the NFR when seven-time world champion Jake Barnes suffered a serious accident while practicing just days before the finale began. LeMond was in contention for the heading world championship until the final go-round played. He won more than $117,000 in Las Vegas.

Still the West Texas cowboy credits the TEC with his two straight qualifications to the steer roping finals. “I don’t know that I would’ve ever tried any other events,” said LeMond, a four-time NFR qualifier in heading. “It was sure the guidance for a reserve world championship in the all-around. With Trevor going like he’s going, second is almost like winning first compared to that guy.”

Brazile is the reigning TEC champion, the first to earn more than $100,000 over the three days of the prestigious event; in 2015, the Lazy E doubled the winner’s earnings after years at $50,000. Brazile has earned more than $750,000 in career Timed Event earnings.

Besides Paul David Tierney, Brazile joins four other previous winners in this year’s field: K.C. Jones, a five-time winner from Burlington, Wyo.; Daniel Green (3) of Oakdale, Calif.; Kyle Lockett (2) of Visalia, Calif.; and Josh Peek (1) of Pueblo, Calif.

“The field is tough, maybe tougher than it’s ever been,” Tierney said. “They’ve got some new guys who are pretty versatile themselves.”

Like every cowboy who competes in the unique championship, there is a learning curve. Not only do they compete in all five disciplines, but they must handle all the various challenges that come their way throughout the five rounds of competition spread out over just three days in early March.

“Get a time every time you go, and don’t get in a hurry,” Tierney said. “There’s 25 head, so even if you have a problem, anything can happen as long as you keep your head.

“The name of the game is consistency and getting a time.”

He should know. Sometimes outlasting the competition in the CINCH TEC is making fewer mistakes than anyone else. It’s a much different mindset than usually occurs in rodeos all across this land, where the cowboys with the fastest times are the only ones to get paid. The key factor for those who cash in is being solid time after time and preparing for every situation that occurs.

“I think the grueling part of it physically is getting ready for it,” LeMond said. “After you’ve been there a few years and your body’s worn down, you’re kind of trained as to how to handle it.”

When it all comes together, there’s a reason the CINCH Timed Event Championship is called the “Ironman of ProRodeo.” It’s a true test of true cowboys, just the way it was meant to be when it was developed more than three decades ago.

Families will enjoy all of the activities planned for the performances. Back again in 2016, the Lazy E will host the Third Annual CINCH TEC Chuckwagon Cook-Off Competition starting Friday with final conclusion and meals open to the public for purchase Saturday afternoon.

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. Reserved tables are NOW available in the Roper’s Cantina Suite. Contact us today. 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.

The 2016 CINCH Timed Event Championship is sponsored by CINCH, Priefert Ranch & Rodeo Equipment, Montana Silversmiths, ABI Equine, Cavender’s, American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance, Nutrena, Bloomer Trailers, MacroAir, National Saddlery, Cross Bar Gallery, Ram Trucks, John Vance Motors, Western Horseman Magazine, Spin to Win Magazine, Guthrie CVB, Made In Oklahoma Coalition, Pendleton Whisky, Smarty Roping Dummies, CSI Saddlepads, Sherwin-Williams, the Best Western Edmond and the Fairfield Inn & Suites – Edmond.

The 2016 CINCH Timed Event Championship is a Lazy E Production. For more information on the CINCH Timed Event Championship or other Lazy E events, contact the Lazy E Arena, 9600 Lazy E Drive, Guthrie, OK  73044, (405) 282-RIDE, (800) 595-RIDE or visit www.lazye.com.

2016 Contestants
Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas
K.C. Jones, Burlington, Wyo.
Daniel Green, Oakdale, Calif.
Kyle Lockett, Visalia, Calif.
Paul David Tierney, Oral, S.D.
Josh Peek, Pueblo, Colo.
Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore.
Jess Tierney, Hermosa, S.D.
Clay Smith, Broken Bow, Okla.
JoJo LeMond, Andrews, Texas
Cade Swor, Chico, Texas
Erich Rogers, Round Rock, Ariz.
Landon McClaugherty, Tilden, Texas
Clayton Hass, Terrell, Texas
Trell Etbauer, Goodwell, Okla.
Dustin Bird, Cut Bank, Mont.
Ryan Watkins, Bluff Dale, Texas
Rhen Richard, Roosevelt, Utah
Dakota Kirchenschlager, Stephenville, Texas
Brodie Poppino, Big Cabin, Okla.

postheadericon Young horses making their mark

WEST MONROE, La. – For every great veteran athlete, there is always a young gun with potential and promise ready to be the next big thing.

There are some outstanding veterans in the mix for Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, with outstanding athletes in Dirty Jacket, Big Tex, Real Deal and River Boat Annie. All have been recognized as the best bucking horses in ProRodeo over the years, and they are a key piece of the puzzle for Carr.

Painted River – which guided Mason  Clements into the money in Guymon, Okla., in 2014 – became the first Pete Carr Pro Rodeo ranch-raised horse to be chosen to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The young mare helped Jake Brown to the Round 6 victory at the 2015 NFR.

Painted River – which guided Mason Clements into the money in Guymon, Okla., in 2014 – became the first Pete Carr Pro Rodeo ranch-raised horse to be chosen to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The young mare helped Jake Brown to the Round 6 victory at the 2015 NFR.

But the next generation of top-tier athletes is growing strong on Carr’s ranch near Athens, Texas. The mixture of talented veterans and youthful exuberance will be a major attraction at the Stampede at the Ike PRCA Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 22-23, at Ike Hamilton Expo Center.

“We’re pretty excited in our young horses and have liked the way they’ve developed,” said Pete Carr, owner of the Dallas-based stock contracting firm.

That development begins with a mixture of true talents. The Carr crew has bred top-notch mares with proven stallions to create the next generation of bucking horses, and those animals are already being recognized. Painted River, the first ranch-raised colt out of River Boat Annie by Korczak, was selected to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this past December.

Once in Las Vegas, the 7-year-old mare lived up to her lineage – Korczak has bucked at the NFR in both bareback riding and saddle bronc riding, while River Boat Annie is the 2007 Reserve World Champion Bareback Horse that has been selected to perform at the NFR 11 times.

Painted River and Jake Brown matched moves for 85.5 points to allow Brown to win the sixth round of bareback riding. The mare also was marked the rankest horse of the night.

“She jumped out of there and jumped real high the whole time and was good to ride,” said Brown, a first-time NFR qualifier from Hillsboro, Texas. “I had a blast.”

It was the first time Brown had ridden the young horse, but he had seen her a couple of times through the regular season.

“I saw her this year in Stephenville (Texas), and Winn (Ratliff) was a bunch of points on her there,” Brown said, noting that Ratliff was 85 points and finished in a tie for second place. “I also saw Matt Bright be a bunch of points on her in Eagle.”

Bright was 87 points to finish in a tie for second at the Colorado rodeo.

“She’s out of River Boat Annie, so she’s bred up to buck,” Brown said. “She did her job. She jumped high and was electric and had some moves.”

That describes a number of Carr animals that will be featured all across the country during the 2016 ProRodeo season. Top-notch bucking horses and bulls help draw world-class cowboys, so it’s a big win for everyone involved: local organizers, sponsors and fans. It’s a winning combination that keeps cowboys looking out for rodeos that feature the Carr brand.

“Me and Pete have always got along good,” Brown said. “I’ve always done good at his rodeos, so I may as well keep drawing his horses.”

That’s a statement that has been made many times by many men. It’s why Pete Carr Pro Rodeo continues to be one of the very best rodeo producers in the country.

postheadericon West Monroe is a rodeo town

WEST MONROE, La. – For the last four years, West Monroe has been a major focal point of reality television in various capacities.

“Duck Dynasty” was the precursor for other northern Louisiana reality-based programs like “Bayou Billionaire” and the “My Big Redneck Family” franchise. But there’s much more to Ouachita Parish than duck calls, camouflage and Uncle Si.

Pete Carr

Pete Carr

In fact, world-class rodeo action will hit town with the Stampede at the Ike PRCA Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Jan. 22-23, at Ike Hamilton Expo Center. It will be a combination of true athletic competition and family-friendly entertainment that makes the event the perfect January event for folks in this region.

“Every year the West Monroe rodeo is one of the first events of the season, and everybody gets excited for it,” said Pete Carr, owner of Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo, which produces the event. “We focus a lot of energy on making it a successful rodeo for the fans, for the sponsors and for the contestants.”

A big portion of the excitement will come in the Carr bucking stock that will be performing inside the expo center. Carr is a four-time nominee for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Stock Contractor of the Year. Over the course of the last three seasons, no other stock contractor has had more animals perform at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Winn Ratliff

Winn Ratliff

That’s an attractive feature for the top players in the game, who are a fixture at Carr events across the country; West Monroe is no different. Last year’s winners include bareback rider Heath Ford, a three-time NFR qualifier from Slocum, Texas, and saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss, a seven-time qualifier from Heflin, La.

Like many elite cowboys, they know they have a solid chance to do well on Pete Carr bucking stock.

“When you go to Pete’s rodeos, you know you’re going to have a shot to win first,” said bareback rider Winn Ratliff, a three-time NFR qualifier from Leesville, La. “You have to do your part and ride good, but if you do your job, you’re going to have the opportunity to win the rodeo.”

Shane Hanchey

Shane Hanchey

The cowboys also know there is an excellent opportunity to be part of a fantastic show.

“Over the last two years, it’s progressively gotten to be a better rodeo,” said Shane Hanchey, the 2013 world champion tie-down roper from Sulphur, La., who won the West Monroe title a year ago. “I was in the last performance there last year, and I was floored by the number of people that came to that rodeo that night.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that is prime rodeo country up there. It was really cool to see everybody there watching us.”

The Stampede at the Ike has become the go-to place for rodeo fans every year.

postheadericon duPerier reels in gold at NFR

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the January 2016 issue of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA. It is republished on my website with the WPRA’s approval.

 

Callie duPerier had the simplest of game plans during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo: Leave all three barrels up in all 10 go-rounds.

That’s harder than anyone might imagine, but the 22-year-old cowgirl did it. What is more impressive is that she did it in her first appearance on ProRodeo’s grandest stage in the middle of all the bright lights Las Vegas and the pomp and circumstance that comes with the Wrangler NFR.

It paid off for duPerier, who not only won the average championship with a 10-run cumulative time of 140.41 seconds, but she also placed in six go-rounds. In all, she pocketed $126,923 during the week and a half in Sin City and earned her first Montana Silversmiths world championship gold buckle.

“I wasn’t real focused on placing in the rounds,” said duPerier, who earned nearly $60,000 by finishing among the top six on six nights. “If I won a go-round, that would be awesome. I was making sure we kept the barrels up. That average was really important.”

Callie duPerier

Callie duPerier

Behind the gold buckle, the Wrangler NFR average title is the second-most important championship in ProRodeo. Of course, the payout of $67,269 also played an important role in the overall outcome in the race for the world championship. There are many cowgirls who have been part of the Wrangler NFR’s history that have never claimed the aggregate crown.

“When I got done (in the 10th round) and was running to get on the horse for winning the average, I was just so excited to win the average,” she said. “I didn’t even know I’d won the world, but I was excited about keeping up barrels all 10th nights. When I found out I won the world, it was incredible. Winning both is just amazing.”

Days later, it had yet to sink in. The reality, though, is it won’t finally hit the young cowgirl from Boerne, Texas, until her name is etched on that gold buckle and it’s in her grasp.

He is Rare indeed

Rare Dillion is a 16-year-old gelding out of Rare Class and by Firecracker Fire. His venture to Las Vegas this past December marked the fourth time the talented buckskin has run inside the Thomas & Mack Center for the Wrangler NFR.

Over the last eight years, Dillion has qualified to compete in Sin City with three cowgirls – Annesa Self in 2008, Carlee Pierce in 2011-12 and duPerier this past December. He has guided them to nearly $286,000 in earnings with four go-round wins.

Annesa Self

Annesa Self

His biggest runs, though, came over the course of 10 days to close out the 2015 season with duPerier.

“Dillion is just an amazing horse that is very consistent,” she said. “Going into the NFR, it’s always nerve-wracking because of all the things that are going on. I wasn’t too nervous, mainly because he’s been there before.

“He knew just where the first barrel was and did great each night. He’s definitely one in a million.”

He’s run that pattern 40 times in his lifetime, so he should know exactly where that first barrel is. The key factor was for the cowgirl to stay focused on task while also providing the greatest care possible for her talented mount.

“I just try to keep him happy,” duPerier said. “Being away from home, he sometimes doesn’t eat very good or doesn’t drink water. I make sure to let him out of his stall so he can roll around and play. I’d put my Back on Track cover on him at night, both the blanket and boots. And I’d also put him on the TheraPlate; he loves that.”

Lisa Lockhart

Lisa Lockhart

It all worked. Dillion and duPerier staked claim to the most prestigious titles in rodeo in the same season, and she earned the championship over two-time reserve champion Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, S.D., who was $18,787 behind.

When they placed, duPerier and Dillion finished more toward the middle of the pack. She was riding with as little risk as possible as to not hit any of the barrels. Still, she posted three sub-14-second times – she was 13.86 seconds on the fifth night to place fifth in the round, then followed that with back-to-back 13.87s to finish second in Round 7 and tie for fourth in Round 8.

Lockhart and her great horse, An Oakie with Cash, made a run for gold through the first six nights of the 10-day championship. Tipped barrels in Rounds 7 and 8 made it a stretch for Lockhart to win her first world title.

Sarah Rose McDonald, who won at least a share of the title in three go-rounds, finished in a close third place in the year-end standings behind Lockhart. She and Fame Fling N Bling were consistent until a downed barrel in the ninth round dropped them from in the average-title race; they finished sixth in the aggregate.

“It was a really cool barrel race to watch,” duPerier said. “It was really awesome. All the girls were amazing all week.”

The attention, though, returned to Dillion. He was one of just four horses to register 10 clean runs over the course of the rugged championship.

“I watched the replays but never added up the money,” duPerier said. “I just wanted to go out there and do my job. If I know how much money I have to win or how I have to do, I would worry too much about it. I just wanted to focus on what I was doing and let Dillion do his thing.”

Family first

T.J. duPerier has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but the 27-year-old man has never let it define him. Callie duPerier loves that about her older brother.

“With the disease, it’s like their muscles weaken over time,” she said. “As he got older, his muscles have deteriorated.”

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder; it’s one of nine types of muscular dystrophy. Despite his condition, T.J. duPerier has continued to be an outdoorsman and live life to the fullest.

“We’re very close, and he’s such an inspiration to me,” Callie duPerier said. “No matter what his condition was, it has never stopped him. It’s awesome to watch.

“It puts my life in perspective. Because of him, I know to never give up.”

It’s a sentiment she shares with her entire family, including younger sister Lydia, mom Cheryl and dad Trip. The latter is a prominent Hill Country ranch real estate broker who owns Texas Landmen. In fact, Trip duPerier was with his daughter through every run inside the Thomas & Mack Center, guiding her and Dillion down the alley.

“It means everything to me,” she said. “My dad and I are very close, and Dillion loves my dad. Having him there with me at the most important part of my life is amazing.

“Dillion gave me some trouble in the alley, but since my dad was with me, it kept me calm down there.”

When the runs were over, there was plenty of support in Las Vegas. Besides her immediate family, she also shared the special experience with her fiancé, Kaleb Apffel, who proposed during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this past March.

“We get married in May,” she said. “We met in college. We just started daring and dated for two and a half years.

“He’s not a cowboy, but he’s a hunter and fisher. We get along really good. He also is a big supporter. I was away from him a lot this year being on the road.”

The rodeo road was the toughest part of duPerier’s 2015 season. Like her veteran horse, she likes to be home. She likes the comforts that come with it, but she also needs to have those connections that have formed her into the world champion she now is.

“Whether you’re winning or losing, I still miss my family,” she said, noting that she won’t travel as extensively in 2016, choosing instead to stay home more with her new husband. “Them not being out there with me the whole time was very hard. I hate being away from my family.”

But those sacrifices were rewarded in gold on the final night of the 2015 season.

A solid foundation

When Annesa Self was a little girl, she loved her buckskin, Hank. Even after he died, she still held a strong fascination with horses of that color.

In the early 2000s, she began looking for another buckskin on which she could run barrels. When she saw there was a young one for sale by a lady in Oklahoma, she drove up from her north Texas home to check him out.

“She whistled at all of her babies, and they all came running over the hill,” Self said. “He was in the lead and was biting and kicking at the others to keep them back.

“I liked his demeanor. He was gritty.”

He also had the right pedigree. Dillion’s grandfather on his sire side was Firewater Flit, with Rare Jet a grand-sire on the bottom. She purchased the then-2-year-old and sent him trainer Karla Roberts, who put the first 30 days on Dillion.

“Then he came to my house to boot camp,” Self said. “I just started doing like I’ve always done them, putting the pattern on them and getting them broke to what I like.”

It worked. As a 5-year-old, he placed at every futurity in which he competed. He began his tenure in ProRodeo in 2006 at the Fort Worth (Texas) Stock Show and Rodeo. He and Self placed there, and with the earnings, the tandem got into RodeoHouston.

“That little turd will definitely let you know if he doesn’t like you,” she said. “He absolutely loves Callie and Trip. They came here and stayed, and it was his first time he was back in his old pen since I sold him in 2011. He rolled and jumped up and bucked and kicked and carried on. He definitely knew where he was.”

The last year hasn’t been the best for Self. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery. She’s cancer free now. She also suffered a broken ankle and lost her step-father in 2015.

“With Callie and Dillion doing what they made this year so much better,” she said. “We texted each other every night. It eases your pain, her doing what she was doing and living her dream. She made me feel like I was out there with her.”

Self made it clear to duPerier that this was her show and that Self enjoyed watching all the action from north Texas.

“Knowing that I put that kind of love and foundation and try into Dillion for him to keep doing his job like he did for Callie is awesome,” Self said. “I know how many girls have that little-girl dream. For me to have produced a horse that satisfied my little-girl dream, Carlee’s little-girl dream and now Callie’s little-girl dream, I just feel like a million bucks.”

She should. Dillion always will be a big part of her life. They had a decade together, and that affection will remain. But Self has seen first-hand just how close Dillion is with the duPerior family.

“I think he has a forever home with Callie, Trip and their family,” Self said. “Their family has been absolutely wonderful, and he deserves to be there with them.”

Yes, he does.