postheadericon Pecos rodeo building on success

PECOS, Texas – The West of the Pecos Rodeo has been around for 134 years, but the 2015 version may well have been one of the very best.

The volunteer committee that organizes the annual event was recognized as one of the very best a year ago, nominated for Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Now that same core group of individuals is working hard to improve for this year’s rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 22-Saturday, June 25, at Buck Jackson Arena.

RODEO_LOGO_REVISION2_PRESENTATION“It was such an honor to even be in the same class as the other nominees,” said Brenda McKinney, a longtime member of the committee. “This event is so important to our whole community. To be nominated in that class was very humbling.”

“It helps us as a committee to get through all the work and everything involved in such a production when you are nominated in such an elite group.”

The honor was well-deserved, and the local organizers are building toward an even better 2016 championship. That’s why they have hired some of the best personnel in ProRodeo, including Dallas-based Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the premier stock contractor in the PRCA. The firm has four nominations for Stock Contractor of the Year and has had more animals perform at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo than any other livestock provider over the last three years.

The list of elite personnel includes Boyd Polhamus, a regular Announcer of the Year nominee who owns four awards; sound director Benje Bendele, who works many of the biggest events in the sport, including the NFR; Sandy Gwatney, a Secretary of the Year nominee; Bullfighter of the Year finalist Clay Heger; and Jeremy Willis, a finalist for the 2015 Pickup Man of the Year.

“When you look at who we have, we have the best of the best putting on our rodeo, announcing our rodeo, doing the sound at our rodeo, working behind the scenes of our rodeo,” McKinney said. “All that helps us get the best of the best among the contestants.”

This year’s West of the Pecos Rodeo also will feature Troy Lerwill, one of the most decorated entertainers in the game. He has been recognized as one of the greatest comedy acts in rodeo as well as one of the most respected barrelmen.

“We’re very excited to have him on board this year,” McKinney said. “We’ve wanted to have him to our event many times, and we are finally able to get him here. I think the crowd will really like what he does.”

From the family-friendly entertainment to the world-class competition, the local committee has entrusted the production and the livestock to the Carr firm, just as it has for more than a decade.

“Pete Carr is a class act,” she said. “He’s so professional and easy to work with. He just wants to please, and he’s always accommodating. He’s willing to work and do whatever we ask, even if it’s last-minute. His people are all very professional, so it’s nice to work with them every year.

“It’s such a big job putting on a rodeo. When you have somebody like Pete, he makes our jobs easy. Of course, he’s also got the best stock.”

It all adds up to a winning combination for rodeo fans in West Texas.

postheadericon Making their way to Reno

Nate Jestes makes a pass on a bull during a Bullfighters Only event. Jestes will be one of the featured bullfighters competing Sunday, June 19-Wednesday, June 22, in conjunction with the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BULLFIGHTERS ONLY)

Nate Jestes makes a pass on a bull during a Bullfighters Only event. Jestes will be one of the featured bullfighters competing Sunday, June 19-Wednesday, June 22, in conjunction with the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo. (TODD BREWER PHOTO)

Bullfighters Only to feature elite contestants during prestigious Reno Rodeo

RENO, Nev. – Not many would stare a beast in the eyes. Fewer yet would tangle with it.

But nine men will get that opportunity Sunday-Thursday when the Bullfighters Only Tour hits western Nevada for a four-night affair in conjunction with the annual Reno Rodeo.

“It’s very humbling to be able to work a rodeo that’s as prestigious, but as the cliché goes, hard work pays off,” said bullfighter Weston Rutkowski of Haskell, Texas. “For some reason, freestyle bullfighting wasn’t cool for a long time, but there was a handful of us who stayed with it. Now the fruits of our labor are paying off.”

Bullfighters Only is still in its infancy. In fact, the organization just celebrated its first year in existence, and, oh, how that toddler has grown in such a short amount of time.

“Bullfighters Only almost started by accident,” said Nate Jestes of Douglas, Wyo. “Aaron Ferguson started his website, and we were to showing off our abilities as a way to market the website. It was set up as a place for bullfighters to get things they might need. It was going to be a one-stop shop for bullfighters.

“It went on from there to putting on an event in Vegas during the National Finals Rodeo. I think ‘Ferg’ always had a vision for freestyle bullfighting as a sport, and he wanted to try his hand at putting on an event. It became a huge success, and a lot of people – a lot of people in the industry – showed interest in it.”

The tour was established, and the Reno Rodeo will be the 13th of more than 30 stops through the regular season. Freestyle bullfighting is not new to rodeo, and the Bullfighters Only has created public demand for the sport. The events feature man vs. beast in a head-to-head battle inside an arena. The bullfighters utilize their tremendous athleticism to try to outwit and outmaneuver equally athletic bulls, which were bred for this kind of fight.

With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.

Jestes and Rutkowski will be joined in Reno by Schell Apple of Fay, Okla.; Beau Schueth of O’Neill, Neb.; Evan Allard of Vinita, Okla.; Cody Greer of Chelsea, Okla.; Chuck Swisher of Dover, Okla; Zach Flatt of Fittstown, Okla.; and Ross Hill of Muscle Schoals, Ala.

“In my opinion, Bullfighters Only is the most elite set of guys that have ever been involved in freestyle bullfighting,” Jestes said. “There hasn’t been a set of 15 guys that are as strong and as talented that are going down the road at this time. It’s not only the elite guys, but the elite bulls, too.

“These are the kinds of bulls that allow us to showcase our abilities and our talents. We’re fighting bulls that are good, fun to fight and are fun to watch. I think that’s what sets Bullfighters Only apart from other freestyle events. It’s the best guys, it’s the best bulls, and it’s the best freestyle competition around.”

The growth of the BFO has been phenomenal. It features the top 15 in the sport and has reached more than 50 million people through its Facebook page with more than 12 million video views. It’s Instagram page has more than 51,000 engaged followers. Bullfighters Only paid out more than $125,000 to the contestants that play the game.

From national television coverage through its relationship with bull riding and The American to regular coverage on Rural Radio-Sirius 147, the buzz has continued to build.

The bulls are bred to be aggressive, and nothing is done to make them that way. In Reno, retired bullfighter Darrel Diefenbach will provide the animals through his 12X Fighting Bulls.

“This is an exciting time to see freestyle bullfighting,” Rutkowski said. “We, as Bullfighters Only, have brought back the extreme aspect of what us bullfighters do day in and day out.

“Now I’m getting the opportunity to go to some rodeos I’ve always dreamed about like Reno and Pendleton (Ore.) and Cody (Wyo.). I’ve heard about these rodeos since I was a little kid from my uncles, who all rode broncs there.”

In fact, many of the most prestigious events in ProRodeo are on the BFO tour schedule. Events with that much history stand as proof to the incredible showcase that is out there for the Bullfighters Only athletes.

“It’s definitely been a great whirlwind,” Jestes said. “It’s taken off way quicker than any of us expected. It’s so exciting that it’s almost overwhelming. We’ve wanted to be at places like this and have the sport where it’s at. To be involved in it and have some ownership in it is just amazing.

“In less than one year, we have gotten our sport and our type of bullfighting known worldwide. That’s just incredible.”

Men put their lives on the line through bouts with fast, agile, hoof-pounding machines. It’s the measure of a man that will face any adversity and find a way through every step, and it’s heading to Reno starting Sunday.

“This is our job every day,” Rutkowski said. “This is what we love to do. If you love something, you have no choice but to make it succeed. With all of us coming together as a team, we are Bullfighters Only. We are bound and determined to see this thing through.”

Each step the BFO has taken has been uphill and done at a rapid pace, but that’s the nature of freestyle bullfighting. Fighting bulls move quickly and swiftly, and the men who are in battle must do that, too, in order to not only be one of the best, but also to survive.

“What’s cool about Bullfighters Only is that the top 15 guys are part of what we call the Pioneer Project,” Jestes said. “It’s 15 of the sport’s best. We’re in it for each other and for the sport of freestyle bullfighting. No matter who wins, we’re happy for each other. It’s pretty amazing.”

postheadericon Taking the next step

Bullfighter, rodeo clown Burelle acquires Groundmaster stall flooring business

A chance meeting nearly two decades ago turned into great friendship for Bill and Jan Pearson and Andy Burelle. It’s now become much more than that.

Burelle and wife, Robyn, has recently acquired Groundmaster Products LLC from the Pearsons, taking their relationship to a new level.

Groundmaster-Logo“Bill and Jan have been amazing friends and mentors to me, and this is a great opportunity for Robyn and I as we move on to the next phase of our lives,” Burelle said.

In 1997 as a young bullfighter, Andy Burelle suffered an ankle injury in his first job protecting cowboys at a PRCA rodeo for J Bar J Rodeo Co. at the fairgrounds in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

That same day, after watching their horse run at the fairgrounds track, Bill and Jan Pearson stayed around to watch the rodeo that evening. Bill had attended college on a rodeo and football scholarship, so rodeo was in his blood; horseracing was in Jan’s.

The two noticed that Burelle was fighting through a lot of pain; after the rodeo, the Pearsons approached the bullfighter and asked him if he would allow them to alleviate his pain. At the time, the couple was in the Nikken magnet business and had helped many young bull riders with their devices.

“They gave me the magnets they had with them, and Bill promised he’d bring more products to me the next morning,” Burelle said. “The next day we basically forged a lifelong friendship.”

Burelle had an exceptional bullfighting career, earning world championships in both cowboy protection and freestyle bullfighting. It’s a rough business, as the athletes place themselves in harm’s way during bull riding to keep all others in the arena safe. Burelle has had more than his share of stitches, plates and screws over his career. In January 2015, he suffered a career-ending knee injury.

Again Bill and Jan Pearson had a solution to Burelle’s injury: a new career as a businessman. Groundmaster is now based in Ardmore, Okla., the Burelles’ hometown.

“This is a very exciting time,” Burelle said. “The plant is in full operation in Ardmore, and we have a vision of providing our customers with the world’s only one-piece, polyethylene stall flooring for the next 25 years and beyond.”

ABOUT GROUNDMASTER: It is the best stall-flooring product on the market today, with the ability to drain and breathe, thereby giving the horse a healthier stall environment. It is easily disinfected right from the top without having to remove it. Like no other stall flooring, Groundmaster is made of a high-density polyethylene in one-piece to fit stall requirements. It provides a level floor for fewer leg and back problems, and the edges will not curl up. With all the economic benefits Groundmaster provides, it will pay for itself over and over, plus the owner can spend more time with the horse rather than cleaning its stall.

postheadericon Carr helps rodeo uphold its legacy

BIG SPRING, Texas – For the past 83 years, this west Texas community has had a considerable legacy.

“We have a strong history, and we have a good amount of second-, third- and fourth-generation families that are still involved our rodeo,” said Dane Driver, a longtime member of the volunteer committee that organizes the annual Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Thursday, June 16-Saturday, June 18, at the Big Spring Rodeo Bowl.

“The history and the legacy of what we’re about to do is what makes me the proudest.”

BigSpring-logoHe should be. The Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo is a major community event. Even more importantly is that locals are the ones behind the scenes, albeit a small group consisting of less than 30 people.

“I cannot brag enough on the volunteers that help put on our rodeo,” Driver said. “If it wasn’t for the strength of the individuals on the committee, it wouldn’t happen. Their heart is putting that rodeo on.

“The small-business owners who are on the committee always reroute their time and energy, and they have people in their offices who focus on the rodeo. They have to make major adjustments to their businesses to handle what they handle.”

Driver understands that better than most. He’s the third generation of his family to be involved in aspects of the celebration. By the time the competition begins later this week, the committee will hand over the bulk of the production to the staff from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a Dallas-based stock contracting company that has been part of the Big Spring rodeo for more than a decade.

“We are Pete’s first rodeo, and we’re proud of that,” Driver said. “I remember when he met with my dad and said what he’s about. It’s been that and more. It’s been a hell of a building process to watch his company grow. The good thing for us is that he’s grown our production. The production he’s done for us has done nothing but get better.

“What he does for our production is noticed. A lot of people can put on a rodeo, but very few can put a production on at the level Pete does. He constantly strives to have the best people in the industry with him.”

The Carr team produces dozens of rodeos a year and has been recognized as one of the very best stock contracting firms in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Pete Carr has been nominated as PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year four times, and no other contractor in ProRodeo has had more animals selected to perform at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo over the past three years.

“What I really like about Pete is that he has treated us like we’re one of the big winter rodeos,” Driver said. “He doesn’t treat us small even though we’re a small rodeo. He gets a lot of respect for that. It makes the local guys feel like they’re doing all this for a reason.

“When our committee hands him the reins, they’re confident they’re going to get the best bang for the buck.”

That’s a winning combination in Big Spring.

postheadericon Circuit leaderboard taking shape

Roper Kiesner rides Pete Carr's Manhatten Moon for 83 points to finish third in Guymon, Okla., in early May. Keisner is the No. 1 saddle bronc rider in the Prairie Circuit as of June 1.

Roper Kiesner rides Pete Carr’s Manhatten Moon for 83 points to finish third in Guymon, Okla., in early May. Keisner is the No. 1 saddle bronc rider in the Prairie Circuit as of June 1.

DUNCAN, Okla. – Success in the Prairie Circuit in early May can be a major contributor to end-of-the-year prizes for cowboys and cowgirls who live within the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region.

Thousands of dollars have been paid out so far, and it’s still early in the circuit season. Since dollars equal championship points, each one is vital along the way to qualifying for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20-Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.

Rocky Patterson

Rocky Patterson

Steer roper Rocky Patterson of Pratt, Kan., has had the greatest success so far inside the circuit, earning more than $7,700. Most of that came from two Oklahoma events – the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo and the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore. Patterson finished in a tie for fourth in the average in Guymon, then won the first round and the overall title in Claremore.

A three-time world champion, Patterson understands how important it is to do well at all events he can. As a circuit titlist, he knows those opportunities to cash in close to home are vital.

Cody Doescher

Cody Doescher

All-around cowboy Cody Doescher of Oklahoma City learned that quickly the first weekend in May. He earned more than $5,000 in both steer wrestling and team roping and finished high in Guymon’s all-around race. It also pushed him to the lead in the circuit’s all-around standings.

Doescher leads the No. 2 man, Ryan Jarrett of Comanche, Okla., by less than $160. That ground can be made up in a hurry, especially for Jarrett, who sits No. 1 in the world standings as of the first week of June. Jarrett isn’t the only southern Oklahoma cowboy to be near the top of the standings. Steer wrestler Shane Frey of Duncan owns a lead of less than $100 over Riley Duvall, a third-generation bulldogger from Checotah, Okla.

Meanwhile, Caddo Lewallen of Morrison, Okla., owns a lead of about $300 over Bryson Sechrist of Apache, Okla. Lewallen pocketed nearly $1,200 in Claremore, Okla., over Memorial Day weekend to shoot past Sechrist into the lead.

Trevor Kastner

Trevor Kastner

Saddle bronc rider Roper Kiesner of Ripley, Okla., is having the best start to his career. He sits atop the standings in his discipline with nearly $5,600 and owns a lead of more than $2,000 over the runner-up, Dalton Davis of Holcomb, Kan.

Other standings leaders are bareback Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas; header Jesse Stipes of Salina, Okla.; heeler Buddy Hawkins II of Columbus, Kan.; bull rider Trevor Kastner of Ardmore, Okla.; and barrel racer Mary Burger of Pauls Valley, Okla. Burger also is the No. 1 cowgirl in the barrel racing world standings.

There are a number of opportunities still available for cowboys and cowgirls to secure their spots at the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. Only the top 12 contestants on the money list at the conclusion of the regular season earn the right to compete in Duncan. That means every rodeo in the region will be major stops for them all.

postheadericon Xtreme Bulls heading to Weatherford

Cody Teel, the 2012 world champion bull rider, rides during a recent rodeo. The top bull riders in rodeo will be part of the Xtreme Bulls Tour event in conjunction with the Parker County Frontier Days and PRCA Rodeo, which takes place next week.

Cody Teel, the 2012 world champion bull rider, rides during a recent rodeo. The top bull riders in rodeo will be part of the Xtreme Bulls Tour event in conjunction with the Parker County Frontier Days and PRCA Rodeo, which takes place next week.

WEATHERFORD, Texas – When rodeo fans in Parker County had a stand-alone bull riding come to the area, they grew accustomed to the late-summer event.

When it ended in 2012, it was like a void had hit Weatherford. That void will be filled during this year’s Parker County Frontier Days and PRCA Rodeo with the inaugural Xtreme Bulls Tour event, set for 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 7.

“We decided this year that we would step out of the box a little and add a fifth night to our rodeo with the Xtreme Bulls,” said Joe Harris, chairman of the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse, which organizes the annual rodeo. “This year will be a trial run and have it primarily be part of our traditional package.

“It’ll kick off our rodeo week, then we’ll start with your first performance of our rodeo on Wednesday night like we’ve always done.”

The rodeo is set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 8-Saturday, June 11, and all the activities will take place at the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse Arena.

“We’ve had a great response so far when people hear we’re having it,” Harris said.

There’s good reason. Bull riding has long been the most popular event in rodeo, and the Xtreme Bulls Tour has been a big hit since its inception more than a decade ago. In Weatherford, it’s all wrapped up in a world-class package that has history on its side.

“The posse has been in Parker County since 1947,” Harris said. “We have maintained our same set of desires to promote and preserve the Western way of life, and our rodeo is a huge part of the county’s events.

“Overall our rodeo has continued to be a huge part of Parker County. It’s a tradition that people look forward to, and we continue to improve, update and move forward with things we can do with our rodeo.”

It has shown. It has been recognized as one of the top events in the country and is an attractive home to the top ProRodeo cowboys and cowgirls in the country every June – one key factor lies in Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo, the stock contractor in Weatherford every year.

“Pete Carr is nothing but above board, generous and professional,” Harris said. “He’s got professional people that he brings in. We’ve maintained that professionalism, staying with a top-notch professional stock contractor and having the best people.

“We were excited to be in the top five rodeos in our division this past year. We do our best to maintain the top quality rodeo that the cowboys will want to come to and participate in. It’s important to us to try to see to their needs and give them a great place to come.”

Part of that involves the overall family-friendly entertainment that is the Parker County Frontier Days and PRCA Rodeo. That includes rodeo entertainer Keith Isley, who has been one of the most recognized and awarded rodeo clowns in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

“Keith has been here in the past, but it’s been a few years,” Harris said. “He is one of the greatest guys and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever encountered. That’s why we wanted him here.”

It’s the perfect way to wrap up a solid week of world-class rodeo action in Weatherford.

postheadericon Rangers ready for college finals

ALVA, Okla. – A year ago, steer wrestler Jacob Edler let the national title slip out of his grasp on the final run of 2015 College National Finals Rodeo.

“I had a 9-second lead going into the short round last year,” said Edler, a senior at Northwestern Oklahoma State University from Statesville, Iowa. “After missing that steer, I was in disbelief.”

Jacob Edler

Jacob Edler

He didn’t allow that episode to define him, though. In fact, it’s been a motivating factor in his championship reign through the 2015-16 regular season. Edler won the Central Plains Region title in dominating fashion. He’ll carry that momentum into the college finals, set for June 12-18 in Casper, Wyo.

“My goal for the college finals this year is to pick up off the table what I let down last year,” he said. “My goal is to win a national championship. This is my last year of college rodeo, so I’m going to let it all hang out.”

It’s a formula that has worked well for the young cowboy.

“Last year I fell five points short of winning the region,” Edler said. “That was my biggest goal. This year I got my good horse back, and I tried to do good at every single rodeo I went to.”

Bryson Seachrist

Bryson Sechrist

Edler is one of four Northwestern men who have qualified for the college finals. He will be joined by fellow bulldogger J.D. Struxness of Appleton, Minn., who finished second in the region; bareback rider Austin Graham of Jay, Okla., who finished third; and Bryson Sechrist of Apache, Okla., who won the regional title in tie-down roping.

“We’ve got quite a few tough ropers that go to school in our region, so it means quite a bit to win the region two years in a row,” said Sechrist, whose 925 points was 215 more than the regional runner-up. “I went out and focused on making practice runs, roping smart. I practiced every day, as much as I possibly could.”

While tremendous talent is one key factor in being successful, having that work ethic is what paid off. In addition to the four Northwestern men heading to Casper, the region-winning women will field a full team of four cowgirls: region goat-tying champion Shayna Miller of Faith, S.D.; barrel racer Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla., who finished third in the circuit; and two more goat-tiers in Tearnee Nelson of Faith and Laremi Allred of Kanarraville, Utah.

Shayna Miller

Shayna Miller

“I’ve never made the short round out there, and I’d like to at least make the short round this year,” said Miller, now making her third trip to Casper. “The ultimate goal is to win the whole thing. I know what it takes to win it. If I put in the work, I think I can get it done.”

That stands also for the women in their effort to bring the team title back to Alva.

“I think we can do it,” Miller said. “The other girls on the team haven’t been to the college finals before, but they’re tough competitors. I’ve competed with them all year, so I know they can do it.”

Rodeo is such a different mindset than many team sports, much like wrestling. Each individual success can help the program. While the Northwestern women will field a full team, the four Rangers men are just two cowboys shy of a full roster. All have college finale experience.

They also have lessons they have learned while competing for Northwestern all season under the tutelage of rodeo coach Stockton Graves.

“He is the main reason for my mind game,” Sechrist said of Graves, a seven-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier in steer wrestling. “I used to get so down on myself if I didn’t do well. I’d go talk to him, and he’d get my mind right.”

That type of encouragement goes a long ways.

“Stockton has been a huge influence on my bulldogging,” Edler said. “I’ve gotten sharper just by hanging out with Stockton. You also have other guys that are hanging around there and consistently coming to practice. J.D. Struxness and I are rodeoing together this year, so we push ourselves to the limit every day.

“That’s what’s set me over the edge. Every single day J.D. and I were in the practice pen making sure we were getting better.”

They teams have shown that consistently through the regular season. They hope it carries over into the final week.

“We’ve got some great guys going to Casper,” Sechrist said. “We all have a little more experience, so I think that can help us a lot.”

It should.

“For us to have a chance to win the men’s title, we’re all going to have to go in there and fill our goals,” Edler said. “J.D. and I are going to have to win first and second in bulldogging. Austin rides bareback horses really consistently. Bryson is the most talented 24-year-old calf roper that’s walking the face of the Earth right now. I know he can win first.

“I think if we can all go out there, make the short round and take care of business, our chances are extremely good for winning the team deal.”

postheadericon McLeod, Slick excel in Guymon

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the June issue of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA. It is republished here with the approval of the WPRA. 

The dry climate of the Oklahoma Panhandle is vastly different from his lake-washed environment of his north Texas home, but Slick By Design seems to like it.

Slick and his jockey, Michele McLeod, won the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo’s average championship for the second time in four years. The talented tandem finished in a two-run cumulative time of 34.71 seconds to claim the title, guided by a 17.19-second final-round winning run.

“Guymon started off our career in 2013, and that was the first rodeo we won,” said McLeod, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Whitesboro, Texas. “It was nice to come back and win it again.”

Michele McLeod

Michele McLeod

McLeod’s first victory inside Hitch Arena may have been the guiding force behind her first trip to the NFR, all aboard a stallion that is just 9 years old. Every year he’s played for the biggest pay in the sport, Slick has improved. A year ago, McLeod and the black placed in six rounds, finished fourth in the average and pocketed more than $138,000 in Vegas.

His job in May is considerably different than it is in December, but Slick still has a winning way about him.

“What’s going on with slick right now is that he’s basically spending most of this spring breeding,” she said. “He’s not really at the top of his game, because he’s only been run once a week for the month of April and the first of May. The weekend of Guymon, for example, I usually run him twice in Guymon and once in Duncan (Okla.), but I opted to run another horse in Duncan.”

That seemed to be a good choice. Even on another mount, McLeod placed fourth in Duncan, so it was a win-win weekend. In all, she pocketed more than $4,600 of Oklahoma’s money, with $3,918 coming in the Panhandle. She and slick posted a 17.52 in the first round and placed 12; only 10 women earned money per round.

“We ran ninth in our drag, so we were at the bottom of the ground,” she said. “He’s been running in smaller pens, so it’s the first big pen he’s worked this year. He worked great, but it was heavier and deeper ground. His time reflected that.”

The .19 on Saturday night was 17-100ths of a second faster than the second-round runner-up, Tori Morris. But that was enough to allow McLeod to squeak past Taylor Langdon by a hundredth for the average title.

“There’s just some history behind Guymon,” she said. “I had always heard about Guymon. I had gone years and years ago when I first went to Texas, and it seemed like all the good barrel racers were there. Then going there and winning it always makes me want to go back.

“The committee’s great. They always have a really good crowd for their performances, and you can just feel the electricity in that pen.”

In fact, she and Slick ran in front of the largest audience among the four performances at Hitch Arena, with nearly 6,000 on hand to see the dynamic pair race to the title. Of course, it helps that her mount has a calm demeanor and acts much different than most stallions in the game.

“I don’t think he’d be where he’s at if he acted like a stud,” McLeod said. “He loves to run barrels. He gets stronger and faster as each day goes on. He just absolutely loves doing this, and you can tell the look in his eyes, especially this time when he’s breeding. Running in front of that big crowd was great.

“He loves to be in the crowd. He tries every time you run barrels on him, but he’s a performer, and he loves it when the crowd is loud. When you get to our level, these horses know the difference between slack and a performance.”

As of mid-May, McLeod was in the top 15 in the world standings with more than $58,000 in season earnings. She credits an outstanding winter run with that success and sitting third in the standings at the time, but she knows there’s a lot of rodeo left to play.

“The rodeo season really hasn’t begun,” she said. “I’m not a true superstitious person, but on this subject, I am. I choose not to look at the at rodeo any different. I’ve seen in the past that people have had a really good winter and still not made the NFR.

“My plan is to rodeo as normal. With Slick, he’s just going to go to some particular rodeos. He’s been great, and he feels healthy, so we’re going to try to keep him that way.”

That’s what the best ladies in the game do with the best horses. They care for them as much as possible, and the cowgirls pay attention to their personalities. That’s what makes McLeod and Slick so special.

“His attitude and his personality really make him special to me,” McLeod said. “He tries so hard to do what I ask him, to do his job. He’s a very kind horse, and he absolutely loves his job. For me now being on him three years, it makes me smile just to ride him.

“I’ve said for the past couple years that if he throws babies with half his try, his babies are going to be phenomenal.”

Spoken like a true phenom herself.

postheadericon Northcott, Markham win Claremore

CLAREMORE, Okla. – It’s been 17 years since Steve Northcott last roped at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

It’s about time he returns.

On Sunday night, he and his partner, Cale Markham, stopped the clock in 5.0 seconds to win the team-roping title on a damp final night of the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo. A short-lived but heavy thunderstorm passed over Will Rogers Stampede Arena shortly before the rodeo was to begin, but the wet arena didn’t bother the winning tandem.

WRS-Logo“I actually got here early enough that I came out to the arena and checked the arena,” said Northcott, 46, the 1996 world champion from Odessa, Texas. “The ground is really sandy, and I knew the weather was going to get bad. I still thought the footing was going to be good no matter how much rain it got.

“It was a little muddy in front of the roping box, but out where the run actually happened the arena was actually in great shape.”

Markham, a header from Vinita, Okla., got his rope on the steer quickly, turned the animal for Northcott, who stopped the clock on the run. Markham and Northcott were 6-10ths of a second faster than the runners-up, Jesse Stipes/Buddy Hawkins and Coleman Proctor/Billie Jack Saebens.

“Cale actually turned him where the ground is real good,” Northcott said. “It was a lot easier shot for me than it would have been in the mud.”

It’s a great way to kick start the new partnership.

“We started roping together at the Guymon (Okla.) rodeo the first of May,” he said. “We’re planning on roping all summer long and try to make the finals.”

That’s the perfect sentiment for a cowboy that decided to return to the rodeo trail after many years away from the game.

“For some crazy reason, I decided to do it again,” Northcott said.

He likes the idea of having a talented partner in Markham, who is about half his age but has a strong pedigree. Not only has the Oklahoma cowboy excelled at the local level, he also has qualified for the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo in heading.

“I was that age one time, and I was awfully confident in my roping, too,” Northcott said. “To do good at the professional level, you’ve got to have one of those young kids in front of you, or it’s tough to do it.

“My goal is to make the National Finals Rodeo one more time, then maybe do it again.”

Will Rogers Stampede
Claremore, Okla.
May 27-29
Bareback riding:
1. Tim O’Connell, 84.5 points on Lancaster & Jones Pro Rodeo’s Hillbilly, $1,055; 2. Joel Schlegel, 84, $799; 3. Marvin Alderman Jr., 82.5, $575; 4. Zach Hibler, 77.5, $384; 5. Mark Kreder, 77, $224; 6. Anthony Thomas, 76, $160.0

Steer wrestling: 1. Jarek VanPetten, 4.4 seconds, $1,703; 2. Riley Duvall, 5.0, $1,481; 3. (tie) Travis Burgett, Chance Howard and Jon Ragatz, 5.2, $1,036 each; 6. Nick Guy, 5.5, $592; 7. Jacob Talley, 5.6, $370; 8. Mitchell Gardner, 5.7, $148.

Tie-down roping: 1. Jesse Hinkle, 8.3 seconds, $1,799; 2. Lane Jeffrey, 9.0, $1,489; 3. Caddo Lewallen, 9.2, $1,179; 4. Travis Rogers, 9.9, $869; 5. Jared Mark Kempker, 10.2, $558; 6. Clay Brown, 10.5, $310.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Shade Etbauer, 85 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s The Darkness, $1,256; 2. (tie) Colt Gordon and James Greeson, 84.5, $819 each; 4. Curtis Garton, 83, $457; 3. Dean Wadsworth, 80, $266; 4. Cody Anthony, 79.5, $190.

Team roping: 1. Cale Markham/Steve Northcott, 5.0 seconds, $1,622; 2. (tie) Jesse Stipes/Buddy Hawkins II and Coleman Proctor/Billie Jack Saebens, $1,304 each, 5.6; 4. Troy Boone/Kingston Chang, 5.8, $987; 5. (tie) Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward and Phillip McCoy/Justin Fox, 5.9, $670 each; 5. (tie) Casey Hicks/Braden Harmon, Payden Emmett/Justin Pruitt and Cole Sherwood/Steve Sherwood, 6.2, $165 each.

Steer roping: First round: 1. Rocky Patterson, 10.7 seconds, $1,166; Kim Ziegelgruber, 12.2, $874; 3. Marty Poppino, 12.8, $583; 4. Vin Fisher Jr., 13.0, $291. Second round 1. Chet Herren, 10.9 seconds, $1,116; 2. J. Tom Fisher, 11.3, $874; 3. Ralph Williams, 11.5, $583; 4. (tie) Ryan O’Rourke and Guy Allen, 12.1, $146 each. Third round leaders: 1. Guy Allen, 9.9 seconds, $1,166; 2. Rocky Patterson, 11.1, $874; 3. Brady Garten, 11.4, 583; 4. (tie) Lawson Plemons and Vin Fisher Jr., 12.0, $146. Average leaders: 1. Rocky Patterson, 37.7 seconds on three runs, $1,748; 2. Vin Fisher Jr., 36.0, $1,311; 3. Thomas Smith, 40.8, $874; 4. Tyrel Taton, 57.1, $437.

Barrel racing: 1. Emily Miller, 17.80 seconds, $1,625; 2. (tie) Stevi Hillman and Gretchen Benbenek, 17.83, $1,276 each; 4. Paula Mercer, 17.88, $1,006; 5. Tracy Nowlin, 17.89, $774; 6. Chelsie Shoop, 17.92, $619; 7. Sallye Williams, 17.94, $464; 8. Kyra Stierwalt, 17.98, $309; 9. Kyra Travis, 18.09, $232; 10. Savannah Pearson, 18.15, $154.

Bull riding: 1. Trevor Kastner, 87 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Resurrected, $1,659; 2. Lon Danley, 85, $1,257; 3. Brennon Eldred, 82, $905; 4. Clayton Joe Appelhans, 81.5, $603; 5. Elliot Jacoby, 81, $351. 6. (tie) Toby Collins and Trevor Reiste, 80, $126 each.

postheadericon Schlegel finds Sadie’s Gal to his liking

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Joel Schlegel has found young lady to his liking.

Sadie’s Gal is a 9-year-old dark brown mare from the Dallas-based livestock firm of Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo. On Saturday night, Schlegel matched moves with the horse for 84 points to take the bareback riding lead during the second performance of the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo.

“I got on her in Bay City (Texas) earlier this year and won that one,” said Schlegel, 27, of Burns, Colo. “She’s a really good horse that went to the National Finals Rodeo a couple years ago. She’s not the most famous one of Pete’s, but you can dang sure place on her anywhere she’s at.”

WRS-LogoCarr is one of the most recognized stock contractors in the sport, having had more animals selected to the NFR each of the past three years than any other livestock producer in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

“When you get a horse like that, you have a shot to win every time if you do your job,” Schlegel said, noting that the score is based equally on a cowboy’s ability to ride and the animal’s ability to buck and kick.

This is the Carr firm’s fourth year producing Claremore’s rodeo, now celebrating its 70th year. The Will Rogers Stampede also is the two-time reigning PRCA Small Rodeo of the Year.

“I haven’t been to this rodeo in a few years, but I’d heard how good it is, especially now that they have Pete as the stock contractor and the horses he has,” Schlegel said. “Sometimes you enter a rodeo because it’s a good rodeo. If it’s enjoyable and fun, you tend to steer that way because there are so many rodeos going on.

“If you have a chance to come to one you like, you dang sure come.”

The Colorado cowboy has found several rodeos to his liking in 2016. Not only did he win in Bay City, he also collected the win on another Carr horse in Nacogdoches, Texas, in late March. He sits 44th in the world standings with the bulk of the big-money rodeo season remaining.

“I feel like this is the best I’ve ever ridden in my life,” Schlegel said. “I’ve had a lot of bumps and bruises over the years when I was in my early 20s that has held me back a little, but I feel great. I hope I can catch a lick and see if that gets me to the (National) Finals.”

For now, though, he’s enjoying his run through Oklahoma.

Will Rogers Stampede
Claremore, Okla.
May 27-29
Leaders through second performance
Bareback riding:
1. Joel Schlegel, 84 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Sadie’s Gal; 2. Zach Hibler, 77.5; 3. Mark Kreder, 77; 4. Justin Pollmiller, 74.5; 5. Colt Kitaif, 74; 6. Blaine Kaufman, 73.

Steer wrestling: 1. Jarek VanPetten, 4.4 seconds; 2. Riley Duvall, 5.0; 3. (tie) Travis Burgett, Chance Howard and Jon Ragatz, 5.2; 6. Nick Guy, 5.5; 7. Jacob Talley, 5.6; 8. Mitchell Gardner, 5.7.

Tie-down roping: 1. Jesse Hinkle, 8.3 seconds; 2. Lane Jeffrey, 9.0; 3. Caddo Lewallen, 9.2; 4. Travis Rogers, 9.9; 5. Jared Mark Kempker, 10.2; 6. Clay Brown, 10.5.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Shade Etbauer, 85 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s The Darkness; 2. Curtis Garton, 83; 3. Dean Wadsworth, 80; 4. Will Smith, 79; 5. Cody Rud, 77.5; 5. Nat Stratton, 76.5; 6. Joe Lufkin, 75

Team roping: 1. Jesse Stipes/Buddy Hawkins II, 5.6 seconds; 2. Troy Boone/Kingston Chang, 5.8; 3. (tie) Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward and Phillip McCoy/Justin Fox, 5.9; 5. (tie) Casey Hicks/Braden Harmon, Payden Emmett/Justin Pruitt and Cole Sherwood/Steve Sherwood, 6.2; 8. Thompson Berryhill/Thomas Smith, 6.3.

Steer roping: First round: 1. Rocky Patterson, 10.7 seconds, $1,166; Kim Ziegelgruber, 12.2, $874; 3. Marty Poppino, 12.8, $583; 4. Vin Fisher Jr., 13.0, $291. Second round 1. Chet Herren, 10.9 seconds, $1,116; 2. J. Tom Fisher, 11.3, $874; 3. Ralph Williams, 11.5, $583; 4. (tie) Ryan O’Rourke and Guy Allen, 12.1, $146 each. Third round leaders: 1. Guy Allen, 9.9 seconds; 2. Rocky Patterson, 11.1; 3. Brady Garten, 11.4; 4. (tie) Lawson Plemons and Vin Fisher Jr., 12.0. Average leaders: 1. Rocky Patterson, 37.7 seconds on three runs; 2. Vin Fisher Jr., 36.0; 3. Thomas Smith, 40.8; 4. Tyrel Taton, 57.1.

Barrel racing: 1. Emily Miller, 17.80 seconds; 2. (tie) Stevi Hillman and Gretchen Benbenek, 17.83; 4. Paula Mercer, 17.88; 5. Tracy Nowlin, 17.89; 6. Chelsie Shoop, 17.92; 7. Sallye Williams, 17.94; 8. Kyra Stierwalt, 17.98; 9. Kyra Travis, 18.09; 10. Savannah Pearson, 18.15.

Bull riding: 1. Trevor Kastner, 87 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Resurrected; 2. Toby Collins, 80; 3. Lane Lasley, 73; no other qualified rides.