SAVANNAH, Mo. – When he’s not on the rodeo trail, Tyson Durfey spends a great deal of time at his place in Weatherford, Texas.
It’s the ideal location for rodeo. His proximity is close to other rodeo competitors as well as many rodeos, and the weather tends to be warmer for longer periods of time.
But Savannah always will be home.
Durfey was born and raised there, and he developed his passion for rodeo in Andrew County, tucked inside northwest Missouri and just a stone’s throw from St. Joseph. Of course, that’s par for the course for the Durfey clan.
Father Roy trains tie-down ropers and roping horses, and he shared those lessons with Tyson and his two brothers, Wes and Travis. All have competed in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, but Tyson has carried it further than anyone; he will compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the eighth time in his career.
“The season turned out really good,” Tyson Durfey said. “I was able to buy a new horse; Nikko has really made a difference. I was able to win a lot at some big rodeos and was able to win a lot at the end of the season when I needed to.”
He earned more than $72,000 roping calves during the 2015 regular season, finishing 14th in the world standings. That’s the good news, since only the top 15 contestants in each event advance to the NFR, ProRodeo’s grand finale that takes place Dec. 3-12 in Las Vegas.
Durfey first qualified for the NFR in 2007 and has returned almost every year since; his only miss was in 2012, when he finished 18th.
“The one year I didn’t make the finals was devastating,” he said. “You don’t know what you miss out on until you miss it one time. It creates a lot more motivation and a lot more focus.”
In fact, that season changed a lot about the Missouri-born cowboy. He turned his attention toward the little things that mattered, and he’s carried that over into his daily habits. Besides having a great horse like Nikko, he found a great personal trainer in Jay Novacek, a former All-Pro tight end for the Dallas Cowboys.
“Being able to work out with Jay has really helped out a lot,” Durfey said. “Not only is he a strength and conditioning coach, he’s a sports psychologist, which is good for my business. It’s the perfect storm with the horse and working out with a three-time Super Bowl champion.”
Key wins were nice, but so is the right mindset. That’s played as big a role as anything into Durfey’s success. He’s finished among the top five in the world standings twice and has been on the brink of a world title.
“I think my biggest motivator is my desire to be a National Finals qualifier and my desire to have a chance to win the world,” he said. “I really have goals that I want to achieve, and those goals don’t change. It’s always to make the National Finals and be a world champion. Those goals keep me motivated every day.”
It’s not hard to keep pushing, especially with so much talent. But this season wasn’t without worries. Durfey used a late-season push to earn a spot among the top 15 and return to Sin City for his share of the largest purse in the game, with $8.8 million being paid over 10 December nights.
That comes into play in more ways than one. For professional rodeo athletes, there are no guaranteed salaries. The only way to earn money is to be better than most of the field. Dollars equal championship points, so the contestants in each event who finish the year with the most earnings will be crowned world champions.
That’s why that late-season scramble became so vital for Durfey.
“My mind has been really good all year,” he said. “I was able to handle a lot of pressure and not really let it affect my performance. When you’re backing in the last month of the season and you’re not in the top 15, it’s a battle. I was ready for the battle, and to have a good horse when you back in the corner makes a difference.
“I also believe in myself that I could do it. A strong faith never hurts. I was able to call on my Lord and Savior, and He was able to pull me through.”
A good number of people had faith in Durfey, including his wife of two years, Shea Fisher, an Australian-born country artist. She travels with him when she’s not in Nashville writing or recording.
“When you spend around 200 days a year on the road, you need a wife that is so supportive of what you do,” Durfey said. “My wife is probably my biggest supporter, my biggest fan. She pushes me. When I’m not winning, she believes in me and tells me I’m a champion.
“She’s been able to keep me balanced and focused the last several years.”
Though it’s been more refined over recent years, Durfey still holds tight to those lessons he learned on his family’s place near Savannah, where he’d ride and rope and enjoy the life of a young cowboy. He still relishes in those moments, reflects on them.
“I went back home in September, and I got to see the (Savannah High School) Savage mascot head painted on the concrete,” Durfey said. “It reminded me of my life growing up.
“It was a sense of pride seeing that, and it brought back some really cool memories.”
The good news is Tyson Durfey is still making cool memories.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the November issue of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA. It is being used here with the approval of the magazine.
Kim Couch had a very basic plan when she arrived at the RAM Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo for the Oct. 15-17 championship.
“We came into the circuit knowing we just needed three clean runs,” said Couch of Rattan, Okla. “We were just wanting to keep barrels up all three nights and just make some safe runs, and that’s just what we did.”
It paid off for the cowgirl, who placed in two go-rounds, finished third in the average and pocketed $3,128 in Duncan, Okla., slamming shut the door for her first Prairie Circuit year-end championship. She finished the 2015 regional campaign with $16,718, more than $5,000 ahead of the runner-up, Emily Miller of Weatherford, Okla.
“Our first goal was to make the circuit finals,” said Couch, who placed at 13 of the 17 circuit rodeos in which she competed. “By the first of August, we were leading the circuit. At that point, the decision was made that we wanted to win the circuit finals to get into Florida and hopefully get into Calgary, so that’s our goal for next summer.”
She did the heavy lifting on Easy French Alibi, a 7-year-old palomino she calls Fancy, a Frenchmans Guy mare out of Easy Mag. Couch secured the circuit’s year-end qualification to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Fla., where she will be joined by the average champ, Mary Burger, the 2006 world champion.
“We enjoy the circuit rodeos along with going to the NFR and all that travel,” said Burger, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier. “I’ve got a nice horse. It’s just a matter of whether everything falls into place.”
It did in Duncan. Burger split second in the opening round with a 16.32, just two-hundreds of a second behind round-winner Shy-Anne Jarrett of Comanche, Okla. Burger also placed fourth in the final round, completing the three runs in a cumulative time of 49.18 seconds to claim the buckle. In all, she earned $4,245.
Now she’ll carry it with her toward Walt Disney World, quite a change from most of her trips to the then-Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Pocatello, Idaho.
“It’s a real big deal now,” Burger said. “Everything seems to be getting bigger and more money. It’s an honor.”
It’s also an honor to ride Sadiesfamouslastwords, a 6-year-old gelding she calls Mo by Sadies Frosty Drift out of Porky and Bess, a Dash Ta Fame mare.
“He went through two derby years,” she said. “This will be his last derby year, then it’s big boy time. I like his disposition and his ability. He can cruise across the ground and shut the clock off. I think that’s very important these days; barrel racing is so tough that you have to have a real special horse to pull it off.
“He’s just 6, and he still makes his own little mistakes.”
Mo didn’t make too many during the circuit finale. He and Burger finished 12-hundredths of a second ahead of average runner-up Lauren Magdeburg of Roland, Okla. Tracy Nowlin of Nowata, Okla., finished fourth overall.
While Burger and Couch claimed the biggest prizes in the region, round victories were split over three cowgirls: Jarrett in the first round, Ari-Anna Flynn of Charleston, Ark., in the second and Miller in the third.
“It’s a great feeling, especially for me being on my backup horse,” Flynn said of Toby’s Poco Misterio, a gelding she calls Toby. “He hasn’t been on the barrels for about a year.”
Jarrett, who was raised just miles from Stephens County Arena, kick-started the finale with her win on Cuatro Snow, an 11-year-old bay/brown gelding she calls Cuatro. Even though she still lives close to the host arena, the tandem hadn’t been inside the playing field all that often together.
“I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, so I just went at it,” said Jarrett, the wife of 2005 PRCA all-around world champion cowboy Ryan Jarrett. “My goal was to try to win first every night.”
That didn’t happen, but that was the case for many of the top regional cowgirls. Still, nine qualifiers earned checks in Duncan, which says a lot about the competition.
“There are some very tough girls,” Jarrett said. “You could take any of these horses to any rodeo anywhere, and they have a chance to win.”
While there was a lot going on over three days of the finale, the 2015 campaign was a highlight reel for Couch. She competed at 21 WPRA rodeos and earned nearly $20,000. Knowing full well she has something special in Fancy, she’s going to see what happens in 2016.
“She comes in and makes a solid run every run,” Couch said. “We may not win the round, but she’s going to come in and place.
“She’s got a lot of heart. As a matter of fact, as she’s gotten older and more seasoned, she’s developed more heart. She’s got more grit to her than she had as a 5- and 6-year-old.”
That could make all the difference in the world.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the November issue of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA. It is being used here with the approval of the magazine.
Every young athlete needs a strong mentor to help lead them the way.
Callie duPerier has had a few of them in 2015, helping guide the 22-year-old cowgirl to her first qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in a dynamic fashion. She has pocketed $166,632 this season and heads to Las Vegas for the Dec. 3-12 grand finale as the No. 1 barrel racer in the world standings.
“It’s been an awesome year,” said duPerier of Boerne, Texas. “I was just looking to get into the top 15. This season has been a dream come true. It still doesn’t seem real to me.”
Of course, it helps to have established veterans pushing her along the way: Traveling partner Sherry Cervi, a four-time world champion from Marana, Ariz., and Rare Dillion, a 16-year-old buckskin gelding who is making his fourth Wrangler NFR appearance with his third jockey.
Dillion previously ran inside the Thomas & Mack Center with Annesa Self in 2008 and Carlee Pierce in 2011-12. In fact, Dillion and Pierce set a then-Wrangler NFR arena record of 13.46 seconds in 2011; Taylor Jacob then established a new mark of 13.31 just two years later.
Having that kind of horse power mixed with excellence inside the arena is a huge confidence boost for duPerier.
“Dillion was just outstanding this year,” she said. “I ran him at the majority of the rodeos. He stayed sound all year and gave me his all. I’m really excited to go to the finals with him.
“He is just an outstanding horse, and just talking about him gives me chills. I could not have ever dreamed about having that kind of horse in my barn. When I first had him, I was still trying to get him figured out.”
Obviously, the tandem has learned quite a bit over the last year or so. As a rookie a season ago, she finished 25th in the world standings. This season, she rode the talented gelding all the way to the top heading into the richest rodeo in the world.
“This year we just got along better,” duPerier said. “Our timing and connection was awesome this year. He bunch of rodeos and placed second at Calgary. I always question his age, but that has not stopped him.
“To be the person on his back riding him is awesome.”
Dillion wasn’t the only driving force behind duPerier’s amazing season. She also leaned on Cervi, who returns to the Wrangler NFR for the 18th time in her storied career.
“I got to go to the big rodeos, and I did very well at all of them,” duPerier said. “I went really hard over the Fourth (of July), and I got to haul with Sherry. She knew how to enter, so being with her really helped. She really helped me with my other horse, Arson.”
Dash Ta Diamonds is an 8-year-old sorrel gelding by Dash Ta Fame out of The Millennium Star she acquired about a year ago. She estimated about 70 percent of her runs were on Dillion, with the rest being on Arson.
“It was awesome to have two horses that were able to go out there and compete,” she said. “It made it easier on me and Dillion to have Arson there and know he could perform well.”
Of course, a big part of duPerier’s support comes from her family, parents Trip and Cheryl; brother, T.J., and younger sister, Lydia.
“My dad was out there with me for a lot of them, but I still missed my mom, my brother and my sister,” Callie duPerier said. “Being away from family is very hard. Even when you’re winning or when you’re doing bad, I really wanted to be home. Like me, Dillion is a homebody, too.”
When he’s on the road, though, Dillion has been the staple behind all that has been duPerier’s success. Having a qualified veteran in the barn is an amazing thing, no matter where the rodeo trail takes her.
“At Houston this year, I was kind of nervous, then Dad told me that he had done well there before,” she said. “Dillion knew exactly what he was doing. It definitely calms me down. He remembered exactly where he was at Houston. At the NFR, I’ll be nervous, but I’ll be comfortable because I’ll be on Dillion.”
A race for the rookies
DuPerier won’t the only Wrangler NFR first-timer when she arrives in Vegas for the Dec. 2-13 championship. In fact, she’ll be joined by four others: third-ranked Sarah Rose McDonald of Brunswick, Ga.; Cassidy Kruse of Gillette, Wyo.; Carley Richardson of Pampa, Texas; Jackie Ganter of Abilene, Texas; and Vickie Carter of Richfield, Utah.
McDonald was the 2014 Rookie of the Year and just missed the finals a year ago, finishing 19th. Kruse (eighth in the standings) is just in her second season in the WPRA, while Richardson (10th) earned her first qualification to Vegas after finishing 23rd in 2014.
While they also will make their runs at the coveted Montana Silversmiths gold buckle, Ganter and Carter also will be in a tight battle for the WPRA Rookie of the Year. Ganter sits 12th with $69,414 in season earnings, and Carter is 13th, about $6,600 behind. With the biggest purse in the history of the Wrangler NFR awaiting them, anything and everything can happen inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
Carter is a veteran in the game and will be riding Blazin Ta Fame, a 10-year-old gelding by Blazin Jetolena out of Princess Dasher, a Dash Ta Fame mare. Carter, a horse trainer who has been in the business of selling good horses, has been riding this year for Rachel Hendrix, Blaze Man’s owner that died in January 2014 of carbon monoxide poisoning at age 18.
Since the Wrangler NFR was a plan for Hendrix, her parents, Clay and Annette Hendrix, asked Carter to try to make the finale on Blaze Man. Mission accomplished.
Ganter joins duPerier as the first two former WPRA junior barrel racing world champions to qualify for the finals. Ganter won the title last season, while duPerier earned the crown in 2010.
When she arrives in Las Vegas, Ganter will be just one year removed from her high school graduation.
Veterans remain in the chase
Lisa Lockhart is the reigning Wrangler NFR average champion now qualifying for the ninth straight times. The Oelrichs, S.D., cowgirl is closing in on $2 million in WPRA earnings after securing the No. 2 spot in the world standings with more than $151,000 in 2015.
She has yet to claim that elusive Montana Silversmiths gold buckle, but she’s been close. In fact, she finished less than $11,000 behind 2014 champ Fallon Taylor of Collinsville, Texas, who is one of three titlists in this year’s mix: Cervi and Mary Walker, the 2012 winner who is playing in Vegas for the fourth straight season.
“Lisa and Louie are a crowd favorite, amazing to watch and amazing to be around,” Taylor said. “I think Lisa deserves a world title. I know it would mean as much to her as it did me.”
Those four cowgirls might be the cream of the crop in the field, but there are plenty of others scattered among the top 15 who have staked claim more than once on their road to the Wrangler NFR:
- Nancy Hunter of Neola, Utah, and Jana Bean of Fort Hancock, Texas, return for the second straight year
- Taylor Jacob of Carmine, Texas, who set the record for fastest time during her 2013 qualification, posting a 13.37-second run to win the sixth round; she also won three other rounds.
- Michele McLeod of Whitesboro, Texas, who returns for the third straight year
- And Deb Guelly of Okotoks, Alberta, a six-time qualifier who last competed inside the Thomas & Mack in 2008.
In all, they account for 44 qualifications and about $2 million in earnings from ProRodeo’s finale.
Returning to the stage
The gold buckle that rests on Fallon Taylor’s waist reveals so much about her and her trusty horse, Flos Heiress, a sorrel mare she calls Babyflo that was sired by Dr Nick Bar out of Flowers and Money.
Inscribed is her name and Babyflo’s. It is a telling tale of her relationship with an amazing racehorse, now 9 years old.
“It’s just a feather in my hat for all the hard work,” Taylor said. “It’s a really cool thing to bring that cred to my mare and actually know that I did show her to the best of her ability for my family. Her pedigree is obviously very important to us.
“For my parents to have the Horse of the Year trophy and to be able look at that gold buckle is really an accomplishment for my whole family and not just me.”
Another notch on the belt came with her third straight qualification on Babyflo and her seventh overall; she also advanced to the Wrangler NFR from 1995-98. This year, she comes back as the No. 7 barrel racer in the field with $86,828 in regular-season earnings. She is about $80,000 behind the leader, duPerier, but she can make up ground quickly with go-rounds that will pay each go-round winner more than $26,000 for 10 nights.
“I think everyone was so surprised that I didn’t embarrass myself like I did in 2013,” she said, “that it was a shock to win in the first place, especially on the same horse that was so inconsistent to come back and be so consistent that I was reserve average champion.
“My husband and I made a pact to Babyflo that she would only go to 50 rodeos (this year). We would qualify for the NFR or not qualify in 50, and she would have a big break. At 46 rodeos, we had crossed over in like $85,000, and I felt like that was a safe spot.”
She went to 34 more rodeos on a 4-year-old colt. Still having a solid season and returning to the biggest stage in the sport is an important step for the Texan.
“I felt like I was on a campaign run, like I was just meeting all these amazing people that I didn’t get to meet before,” Taylor said. “New fans and old fans … that was amazing to me.
“I knew my mare was consistent, so that was fun to capitalize and go to different rodeos that I hadn’t been before, and I did that specifically just to meet new fans.”
She’ll get to do that again during her the 10 December nights in Las Vegas, but she knows, as well as anyone in the field, that it will be a horserace.
Trevor Brazile not only won his 22nd world championship this weekend, he put together a solid stranglehold on No. 23.
Brazile set a new standard at the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, stopping the clock in a 10-run cumulative time of 111.3 seconds. He placed in seven go-rounds, winning the third and sixth rounds. He won the average title and pocketed $62,390 at the Clem, the most earnings in that championship’s history
He finished the steer roping season with $121,112 in earnings in that single event, also a ProRodeo record. It is his sixth steer roping gold buckle, and his earnings over the two-day championship in Kansas pushed his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association earnings to $281,242.
That means his lead is about twice as much as his second closest competitor in the 2015 all-around race, brother-in-law Tuf Cooper, who has $140,687.
Cooper is the four-time and reigning world champion tie-down roper. He also leads the standings heading toward this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which takes place Dec. 3-12 in Las Vegas.
As expected, though, Brazile will return to Sin City in two events, the only cowboy doing so. He is No. 4 in the heading standings and fifth in tie-down roping. He doubles his chances of winning during each of the 10 performances.
That’s why he’s always the favorite to add to his ever-growing record of all-around championships, the most prestigious gold buckle in the game.
ALVA, Okla. – Sara Bynum and Amber Miller took very different paths to the top of the barrel racing leaderboard this past weekend at the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo.
Bynum rode a young mare to the two-run aggregate title, moving up to a tie for second place in the Central Plains Region standings. Meanwhile, Miller leaned on a trusty veteran mare to finish second overall behind her Rangers teammate.
“It’s amazing, because the filly I’m riding is only 5 years old,” said Bynum of Beggs, Okla. “She was a longshot to begin with. To be among the top three to finish the first semester of rodeos is really awesome.”
Bynum has been in the winner’s circle before, winning the final event of last season in April. She has been a fixture in short go-rounds already this season, but it was a new feeling for Miller, a freshman from Laverne, Okla.
“It was a little nerve-wracking competing against all those kids that have rodeoed in the region all the time,” said Miller, who rode a 13-year-old mare to place second in the short round and finish just three-tenths of a second behind her teammate. “The fact that it’s the hometown rodeo was big, too. My parents were there, my friends were there, and it was great that I could do well.
“It made my confidence boost a little bit.”
They were just a pair of Rangers that did well in Alva over the weekend. Laremi Allred of Kanarraville, Utah, won goat-tying; J.D. Struxness of Appleton, Minn., won both rounds and the average in steer wrestling; Austin Graham of Jay, Okla., won both rounds and the aggregate in bareback riding; and tie-down roper Bryson Seachrist of Apache, Okla., won the short round and finished second overall.
Both the Northwestern men and women placed second in the team standings. In all, five men and six women scored valuable points, including tie-down roper Wylee Nelson, steer wrestler Tyrel Cline, goat-tier Shayna Miller and breakaway ropers Katy Miller and Taylor Munsell.
“We all want each other to do really good,” Bynum said. “I would rather see all the girls and guys on my team do well.”
Of course, part of that is each team member doing his or her part. Bynum was the most consistent barrel racer in the field, posting a 12.89-second run to finish second in the opening round. She then won the short round with a blistering 12.58.
“My senior year in high school, I didn’t have anything very good coming to the college deal, and my dad found this filly on Craigslist for $600,” she said of Loretta, a palomino paint. “It turned out to be the best barrel horse I’ve ever swung my leg over.
“She has a really like stride, which makes her pretty fast, and she’s really smooth. She doesn’t waste a lot of time when she’s turning.”
While Bynum has gained faith in her young horse, Amber Miller has found great success in Birdie, a 13-year-old sorrel mare that was bred and trained to be a cutting horse.
“We started her as a family in barrels,” Miller said. “We trained her on our own. My sister and I both have ridden her. She’s a great horse to have.
“We didn’t spend thousands of dollars on her. She’s special to us, because we started her and have had her for a long time. She’s one of a kind.”
The 100 points she earned this past weekend moved Miller into 10th place in the Central Plains standings. She’s joined by a host of Rangers that are among the leaders in their respective events. Of course, that’s a big reason why both the men and women sit second in the team standings after four events. The final six rodeos of the 2015-16 season will take place during the spring semester.
“I think one of the things that helps make us successful is that everybody supports each other,” Miller said. “We’re really a close-bonded team, and I think that helps us out a lot.”
DALLAS – When Dirty Jacket walks into the bucking chutes, all eyes are upon him.
The talented Pete Carr Pro Rodeo horse is big and muscular, powerful and athletic. At 11 years old, the bay gelding knows why he’s there, and he’s ready to perform. He’s the greatest bucking horse in ProRodeo, and everybody in the place is ready to watch him.
Dirty Jacket is the Bareback Horse of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for the second straight season. He is joined by Carr’s Half Nutz, which was voted as the reserve runner-up Bull of the Year.
“There’s not another horse like him,” said Richmond Champion, a 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who has scored three victories on the bucking horse over the last 16 months; he was 91 points to win the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days and 88.5 points to win the fifth NFR round a season ago, then followed that with a 90-point ride to win Eagle, Colo., this past July.
“The only bad thing is when you get the whistle, you don’t want to stop.”
Champion is not the only bareback rider who thinks that way. They have voted Dirty Jacket as one of the top three bucking horses each of the past four years: He finished third in the 2012 voting and was second in ’13.
Over his career, Dirty Jacket has led dozens of cowboys to victories, including five big titles in the past year. In addition to Champion’s Round 5 win, Dirty Jacket also was the driving force for Caleb Bennett’s victory in the 10th round of the 2014 NFR.
Jessy Davis had the highest marked ride on the talented gelding in February, when he posted a 93 in the San Angelo (Texas) Cinch Shootout. Winn Ratliff followed with a 90-point ride to share the title in Weatherford, Texas, in mid-June, and Ryan Gray spurred Dirty Jacket for 92 points two weeks later in Pecos, Texas; Gray’s ride is the highest-marked bareback ride during the 2015 regular season.
“He’s just a great animal,” said Gray, an eight-time NFR qualifier. “You can guarantee he’s going to perform at his best every time. He’s going to give you a chance to win first; that’s the neat thing about that horse.”
Dirty Jacket will make his seventh straight appearance at the NFR during the 2015 championship, set for Dec. 2-13 in Las Vegas. Since he first bucked inside the Thomas & Mack Center in 2009, he has been featured in the fifth and 10th go-rounds, which are recognized for having the most electric and amazing bucking stock of ProRodeo’s championship event.
“Dirty Jacket is a bareback rider’s dream,” Ratliff said. “He has a lot of timing when he bucks; when a horse has a lot of timing, it’s easy for us to get in rhythm with him and be flashy. You get to show what the style of bareback riding is all about, and you get to show out.
“He has to love it, and Pete’s not afraid to buck him. If a contractor’s not afraid to buck a horse, it tells a lot about the character of the horse. He’s always a phenomenal horse.”
It takes something special for an animal to continue to perform at a high level. Take Half Nutz, a 5-year-old black, white-faced bull that was named one of the top three in ProRodeo based on votes by the bull riders.
Over the course of his career, Half Nutz has been ridden just one time, but that was one of the top-marked rides of 2015. Scottie Knapp matched moves with the talented bull for 93 points to win the West of the Pecos (Texas) Rodeo in late June. Half Nutz will perform at the NFR for the second straight year.
“He’s definitely a round-winner and the real deal,” Knapp said. “If I had one to pick, that’d be the one.
“Even after I rode him, he’s still a bucker. That’s where you find your true bucking bulls, the ones that keep bucking that well even after they’ve been rode. That’s what we’re looking for if you want to win.”
Half Nutz is one of several top bulls that are part of the Carr herd. In fact, he will be among 22 Carr animals performing at the 2015 NFR, the highest number of NFR bucking stock among all PRCA stock contractors.
“I love Pete’s pen of bulls,” Knapp said. “When I go to his rodeos, I know 95 percent of the time I’ve drawn something to win on. He’s always got a solid pen of bulls. His pen always seems to be even, top-of-the-line buckers. You know when you go to his rodeos, if you ride you know you’re fixing to get a big check.”
DUNCAN, Okla. – Cody Quaney knew he had to be fast on Saturday during the final night of the 2015 Prairie Circuit season.
He was, and it paid off in a big way for the tie-down roper from Cheney, Kan. Quaney roped and tied his calf in 8.4 seconds to win the third round of the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. More importantly, his earnings inside the Stephens County Arena pushed him to the circuit’s year-end championship.
“It was really big, because it determined whether I won the year-end award or not,” said Quaney, now in his third year in ProRodeo.
In all, the Kansas cowboy pocketed $3,089 in Duncan and upended nine-time circuit champion Jerome Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla., for the championship by less than $2,000.
“I did really good at the first of the year, and then I was gone to the Northwest during the August and September run,” Quaney said. “Jerome caught me then and had about an $1,100 lead, and I was able to catch him at the finals.”
The victory secures his first big championship in his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association career. More importantly, it qualifies Quaney to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which will take place next spring in Kissimmee, Fla. He will be joined there by the average champion, Cole Bailey of Okmulgee, Okla., who roped and tied three calves in a cumulative time of 25.5 seconds to win the average championship.
For his mark, Quaney finished third in the average.
“It’s a big deal, because it gives me a lot of confidence going into next year,” he said. “I’m not known for winning a whole lot of rodeos, so it was good to get this year-end award.”
The 2008 Cheney High School graduate moved on to college rodeo at Vernon (Texas) College and Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla. Not only did he win the title made up of contestants and events primarily in the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region, he also finished 29th in the final world standings.
Though he spends a good portion of the winter near Dallas, he’s quite comfortable competing in his home circuit.
“This is where I’m from, so I’ll keep coming back,” Quaney said.
Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo
Bareback riding: First round: 1. Caine Riddle, 80 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Elvis, $1,365; 2. Blaine Kaufman, 79, $1,324; 3. Frank Morton, 76, $883; 4. (tie) Logan Patterson and Zachary Hibler, 73, $221 each. Second round: 1. Caine Riddle, 80 points Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Miss Zandy, $1,765; 2. (tie) Wyatt Clark, Brian Leddy and Frank Morton, 71, $883. Third round: 1. Caine Riddle, 84 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Cross Fire, $1,765; 2. Blaine Kaufman, 79, $1,324; 3. Brody Cooper, 72, $883; 4. Frank Morton, 71, $441. Average: 1. Caine Riddle, 244 points on three rides, $2,748; 2. Blaine Kaufman, 228, $1,986; 3. Frank Morton, 218, $1,324; 4. Brian Leddy, 207, $662. Year-end champion: Caine Riddle.
Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Stockton Graves, 3.7 seconds, $1,765; 2. Riley Duvall, 4.2, $1,324; 3. Cole Edge, 4.4, $883; 4. Dean Gorsuch, 4.7, $441. Second round: 1. Cole Edge, 3.9 seconds, $1,765; 2. Clay Mindemann, 4.0, $1,324; 3. (tie) Tanner Brunner and Dru Melvin, 4.1, $662 each. Third round: 1. Jule Hazen, 3.5 seconds, $1,865; 2. (tie) Dean Gorsuch and Stockton Graves, 4.0, $1,103 each; 4. Ryan Swayze, 4.4, $441. Average: 1. Stockton Graves, 12.4 seconds on three runs, $2,648; 2. Riley Duvall, 13.8, $1,986; 3. Cole Edge, 14.0, $1,324; 4. Tanner Brunner, 14.8, $662. Year-end champion: Stockton Graves.
Team roping: First round: 1. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 5.6 seconds, $1,765; 2. Jesse Stipes/Billie Jack Saebens, 6.3, $1,324; 3. Mike Bacon/Joseph Harrison, 6.4, $883; 4. (tie) Jason Arndt/Austin Rogers and Hunter Munsell/Sawyer Barham, 6.7, $221 each. Second round: 1. Brandon Vaske/Braden Harmon, 5.2 seconds, $1,765; 2. Andrew Ward/ReaganWard, 5.3, $1,324; 3. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 5.8, $883; 4. (tie) Troy Boone/Dawson McMaster and Zac Small/Tyler Worley, $221 each. Third round: 1. Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward, 5.7 seconds, $1,765; 2. Jesse Stipes/Billie Jack Staebens, 6.2, $1,324; 3. Colt Braden/Chad Evans, 6.5, $883; 4. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 6.6, $441. Average: 1. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 18.0 seconds on three runs, $2,648; 2. Jesse Stipes/Billie Jack Saebens, 20.3, $1,986; 3. Zac Small/Tyler Worley, 27.3, $1,324; 4. Colt Braden/Chad Evans, 30.4, $662.
Saddle bronc riding: First round: 1. Jesse James Kirby, 82 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Satin Sheets, $1,765; 2. Joe Lufkin, 80, $1,324; 3. (tie) Ryan Bestol and Shade Etbauer, 77, $662 each. Second round: 1. (tie) Shade Etbauer, on Rafter H Rodeo’s Roan Alone, and Steven Dent, on Rafter H Rodeo’s Pocket Money, 78, $1,545 each; 3. Joe Lufkin, 77, $883; 4. Ryan Bestol, 76, $441. Third round: 1. Preston Kafka, 74 points on Frontier Rodeo’s War Eagle, $1,765; 2. Ryan Bestol, 73, $1,324; 3. Roper Kiesner, 69, $883; 4. Steven Dent, 63, $441. Average: 1. Ryan Bestol, 226 points on three rides, $2,648; 2. Steven Dent, 207, $1,986; 3. Preston Kafka, 204, $1,324; 4. Joe Lufkin, 157 points on two rides, $662.
Tie-down roping: First round: 1. (tie) Tyler Mathew Milligan and Cole Bailey, 7.6 seconds, $1,545; 3. Bryson Sechrist, 7.7, $883; 4. (tie) Cole Wilson and Trell Ebauer, 8.1, $221 each. Second round: 1. Caleb Bullock, 7.8 seconds, $1,765; 2. Caddo Lewallen, 8.1, $1,324; 3. Cole Bailey, 8.8, $883; 4. Trent Creager, 8.9, $441. Third round: 1. Cody Quaney, 8.4 seconds, $1,765; 2. Tyler Milligan, 9.0, $1,324; 3. Cole Bailey, 9.1, $883; 4. L.D. Meier, 11.2, $441. Average: 1. Cole Bailey, 26.5 seconds on three runs, $2,648; 2. Tyler Milligan, 26.5, $1,986; 3. Cody Quaney, 27.5, $1,324; 4. Cole Wilson, 29.1, $662. Year-end champion: Cody Quaney.
Barrel racing: First round: 1. Shy-Anne Jarrett, 16.30 seconds, $1,788; 2. (tie) Mary Burger and Lauren Magdeburg, 16.32, $1,117 each; 4. Kim Couch, 16.56, $447. Second round: 1. Ari-Anna Flynn, 16.22 seconds, $1,787; 2. Jeanne Anderson, 16.23, $1,341; 3. Lauren Magdeburg, 16.32, $894; 4. Kara Large, 16.35, $447. Third round: 1. Emily Miller, 16.24 seconds, $1,788; 2. Kim Couch, 16.31, $1,341; 3. Kara Large, 16.33, $894; 4. Mary Burger, 13.42, $447. Average: 1. Mary Burger, 49.18 seconds on three runs, $2,681; 2. Lauren Magdeburg, 49.30, $2,011; 3. Kim Couch, 49.44, $1,341; 4. Tracy Nowlin, 49.75, $670. Year-end champion: Kim Couch.
Steer roping: First round: 1. Rocky Patterson, 11.1 seconds, $1,618; 2. Chet Herren, 12.5, $1,213; 3. Ralph Williams, 12.7, $809; 4. Roger Branch, 13.1, $404. Second round: 1. Mike Chase, 10.3 seconds, $1,618; 2. Rod Hartness, 11.0, $1,213; 3. Brad Starks, 11.4, $809; 4. Ralph Williams, 11.6, $404. Third round: 1. J.P. Wickett, 9.7 seconds, $1,618; 2. (tie) Shorty Garten, and Brad Mohon, 10.5, $1,011 each; 4. Rocky Patterson, 11.4, $404.
Bull riding: First round: 1. Chris McCombs, 81 points on Silver Creek Rodeo’s Crabby Abby, $1,765; 2. Trevor Kastner, 80, $1,324; no other qualified rides. Second round: 1. Tate Stratton, 78 points on Rafter H Rodeo’s Never Been Kissed, $1,765; no other qualified rides. Third round: 1. Jake Gowdy, 82 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s South Point Style, $1,765; 2. Trevor Kastner, 56, $1,324; no other qualified rides. Average: 1. Trevor Kastner, 136 points on two rides, $2,648; 2. Jake Gowdy, 82 points on one ride, $1,986; 3. Chris McCombs, 81, $1,324; 4. Tate Stratton, 78, $662. Year-end champion: Jake Gowdy.
DUNCAN, Okla. – Caine Riddle hasn’t been on a bucking horse in a month and a half, but it hasn’t shown through the first two rounds of the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo.
Riddle, a four-time Prairie Circuit year-end champion from Vernon, Texas, won the opening bareback riding rounds and added $3,531 to his earnings, padding his lead with one night remaining in the season.
“I had Miss Zandy tonight, and I’ve been on that horse eight times over the last 10 years,” Riddle said Friday after posting an 80-point ride on the Beutler & Son Rodeo Co. horse. “I’ve been successful on her nearly every time. I don’t know if it’s that I’m getting old or what, but tonight was the buckiest trip I’ve ever had on her.
“I could dang sure tell she was dropping out of the air, so I just kept hustling and it worked out good.”
With his quick start, Riddle moved ever closer to his fifth circuit championship. If so, it would mark the fourth straight year he’s claimed the title. Yes, he’s been rather dominant in the region, but he needs to have a solid finish to the three-day finale on Saturday night to secure another crown.
“I knew toward the end of the season that there were a couple of young guys, Blaine Kauffman and Frank Morton, were right there close,” Riddle said of the Nos. 2 and 3 bareback riders in the standings heading into this weekend. “I don’t pay attention to that; I just go ride every one the best I can. I know if you ride all three of them here and don’t mess up, you’ll get a pretty good check and be successful.”
It’s worked out for the 32-year-old cowboy. He has been on the verge of qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which features only the top 15 contestants in each event in the world standings. Three of the past four years, he was among the top 20, just missing out on the NFR.
“I love riding bucking horses, so I’ll keep going as long as I’m good and healthy,” he said. “I think I’m getting to the age where I can’t get on 150 horses a year, but there are a lot of good rodeos in our circuit.”
It also helps that he’s part of a big rodeo family, the Beutlers of Elk City, Okla. His uncle, Bennie, and cousin, Rhett, own Beutler & Son, which produces several events in the region that is made up of events and contestants primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
“I love going to Bennie’s rodeos,” Riddle said. “He’s got probably the best string of bareback horses in the PRCA. If you enter his rodeos, you’re going to get on something that bucks. As long as I’m healthy and can ride his horses, then I think I can ride anybody’s.”
NOTES: Three-time world champion Rocky Patterson of Pratt, Kan., won the circuit finals steer roping championship on Friday morning. He roped and tied three steers in a cumulative time of 35.5 seconds to win the title, collecting $4,448 in the process.
Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Caine Riddle, 80 points Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Miss Zandy, $1,765; 2. (tie) Wyatt Clark, Brian Leddy and Frank Morton, 71, $883.
Steer wrestling: 1. Cole Edge, 3.9 seconds, $1,765; 2. Clay Mindemann, 4.0, $1,324; 3. (tie) Tanner Brunner and Dru Melvin, 4.1, $662 each
Team roping: 1. Brandon Vaske/Braden Harmon, 5.2 seconds, $1,765; 2. Andrew Ward/ReaganWard, 5.3, $1,324; 3. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 5.8, $883; 4. (tie) Troy Boone/Dawson McMaster and Zac Small/Tyler Worley, $221 each.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. (tie) Shade Etbauer, on Rafter H Rodeo’s Roan Alone, and Steven Dent, on Rafter H Rodeo’s Pocket Money, 78, $1,545 each; 3. Joe Lufkin, 77, $883; 4. Ryan Bestol, 76, $441.
Tie-down roping: 1. Caleb Bullock, 7.8 seconds, $1,765; 2. Caddo Lewallen, 8.1, $1,324; 3. Cole Bailey, 8.8, $883; 4. Trent Creager, 8.9, $441.
Barrel racing: 1. Ari-Anna Flynn, 16.22 seconds, $1,787; 2. Jeanne Anderson, 16.23, $1,341; 3. Lauren Magdeburg, 16.32, $894; 4. Kara Large, 16.35, $447.
Steer roping: First round: 1. Rocky Patterson, 11.1 seconds, $1,618; 2. Chet Herren, 12.5, $1,213; 3. Ralph Williams, 12.7, $809; 4. Roger Branch, 13.1, $404. Second round: 1. Mike Chase, 10.3 seconds, $1,618; 2. Rod Hartness, 11.0, $1,213; 3. Brad Starks, 11.4, $809; 4. Ralph Williams, 11.6, $404. Third round: 1. J.P. Wickett, 9.7 seconds, $1,618; 2. (tie) Shorty Garten, and Brad Mohon, 10.5, $1,011 each; 4. Rocky Patterson, 11.4, $404. Average: 1. Rocky Patterson, 35.5 seconds on three head, $2,426; 2. Mike Chase, 22.6 on two head, $1,820; 3. J.P. Wickett, 22.9, $1,213; 4. Shorty Garten, 24.1, $607.
Bull riding: 1. Tate Stratton, 78 points on Rafter H Rodeo’s Never Been Kissed, $1,765; no other qualified rides.
So many things have changed since Jake Cooper first qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
That was in 2007, when he was just 23 years old. Though he’d been around the sport his entire life, he was still relatively new to the ups and downs that come with competing in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
“I had been rodeoing for about three years, and I felt like I was going to go back to the NFR every year,” said Cooper, whose father, Jimmie, was the 1981 world champion all-around cowboy and a 2005 inductee into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. “I kind of took it for granted.
“After not going back for a long time and struggling a little, it’s way sweeter this time, and I’m sure going to enjoy it. Even though I’m going to continue rodeoing, you never know when you’re going to make it.”
When Jake Cooper arrives in Las Vegas for the 10-night finale, he’ll be the No. 6 header in the world standings. Only the top 15 contestants in each discipline from the regular season advance to the NFR, so earning a trip to the Nevada desert in December is quite an accomplishment.
Raised in the southeastern New Mexico community of Monument, Cooper has had a rope in his hand since a young age. He still claims Monument as his home, and he’s happy to be one of just two New Mexico cowboys battling for gold buckles – he is joined by fellow Tate Branch Auto Group cowboy Taos Muncy of Corona, N.M.
“Besides lessening the financial burden that comes with rodeo, just having a guy that looks you in the eye and you know believes in me, it’s a cool feeling,” Cooper said of his relationship with Tate Branch, who owns the dealerships in the southeastern New Mexico communities of Carlsbad, Artesia and Hobbs. “I text him throughout the year to keep him updated.
“He’s always offering some encouragement. It’s nice to have someone that has your back.”
That’s part of rodeo, in general, but it’s especially viable in team roping, the only tandem discipline in the sport. As a header, Cooper entrusted most of the cleanup duty to his heeler, Tyler McKnight of Wells, Texas.
“The only thing that kept him from making the NFR was when he got hurt for a month in February,” Cooper said, noting that McKnight finished 17th in the heeling standings, just two spots out of qualifying for the finale. “I roped with other people and got more money won than him.
“I was very upset about it. I thought he had got it done in California that final week of the season.”
Cooper earned nearly $81,000 in 2015, about $15,000 more than McKnight. During the 10-night championship in December in Las Vegas, Cooper will rope with Russell Cardoza, a four-time NFR qualifier from Terrebonne, Ore.; he roped a good portion of the season with Dustin Bird, who also finished outside the top 15.
“I probably haven’t roped with Russell since I was 17 or 18 and some of the junior deals,” Cooper said. “Anytime you can go with a guy that’s been there and has that experience, it’s going to help. He’s such a cool dude that it doesn’t look like anything ever bothers him. I’m really excited to have a chance to rope with him out there.”
Roping with great cowboys is nothing new to the New Mexico-born cowboy. Not only did he grow up competing with his father, long considered one of the top timed-event hands in the game, but he also roped with his twin brother, Jim Ross, a five-time NFR qualifier. In fact, the brothers roped together during that magical run eight seasons ago.
“I would hope I’m a lot smarter than I was the first time I made it,” Jake Cooper said. “The bottom line is I’m much more appreciative of the chance to get to rope out there. I see now how many guys work hard at this and don’t make it, so I feel like I need to appreciate it as much as I can. It feels like all my hard work has paid off the last few years.”
It’s been an excellent 2015 season for Cooper. He hopes to parlay a solid run into the sport’s richest 10 days ever. That means focusing on the little things to make big things happen.
“My main goal is to just rope like I know how,” he said. “We’ve been practicing hard. I’m not going to rope to the time. I feel like I’m fast enough when I do my job, so I want to do my job every night.
“I don’t want to try to be too fast. My goal is to be mistake-free. If I do my job every night, then I’ll let the chips fall and see what happens from there.”
That’s what Vegas is all about, especially in December.
DUNCAN, Okla. – Jake Long and Coleman Proctor both own Prairie Circuit titles, though the team ropers didn’t earn them together or in the same year.
They are trying to do just that in 2015, and they made a stronger case Thursday night during the opening go-round of the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. Proctor, a header from Pryor, Okla., and Long, a heeler from Coffeyville, Kan., stopped the clock in 5.6 seconds to win the round and add $1,765 to their season earnings.
“I feel like I’ve got a really good horse, so I just try to use him and then use Jake, because Jake heels really good,” said Proctor, who won the circuit finals average championship a year ago while roping with Billie Saebens. “I wanted to catch the steer and set him up so Jake can heel him fast. I feel blessed to have a great job heading for Jake.”
Proctor first won a Prairie Circuit year-end title in 2004 in heeling, then Long followed that four years later. They return to the three-day championship together for the first time in about seven years.
“This is the first time I’ve competed at the circuit finals in Duncan,” Long said. “I had a hard time getting (a minimum) 15 (circuit) rodeos. Last year I went to some and just didn’t qualify; this year it’s fun to be back.”
The momentum certainly is there. In addition to an increased purse in Duncan – for winning the round, Proctor and Long pocketed $1,765 each – the tandem is hoping to clinch qualifications to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Fla., which features just the year-end and circuit-finals champs from each of the 12 ProRodeo regions.
“He heeled that like he was supposed to go to Disney World,” Proctor said, noting that Kissimmee is just 17 miles southeast of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
It’s true. While the national circuit finals features a great purse for the contestants, there is more to draw Long and his family, including wife, Tasha, and their daughters, Haven and Haizlee.
“My wife and little girl want to go to Disney World, so it’s very important,” Long said with a laugh. “I have more pressure for that than trying to get out there to rope for some money.”
They still have some work to do over the two remaining rounds of the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Proctor and Long extended their lead in the year-end standings; Proctor’s $14,564 is about $3,700 better than Zac Small of Welch, Okla., while Long’s $15,480 is $2,767 higher than Tyler Worley of Nawata, Okla.
“We came in the lead, and we’ve both won the year-end in heeling, but I’ve never won it heading,” Proctor said. “It’s special, so one more goal on my list is to win the Prairie Circuit heading one time.”
Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Caine Riddle, 80 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Elvis, $1,365; 2. Blaine Kauffman, 79, $1,324; 3. Frank Morton, 76, $883; 4. (tie) Logan Patterson and Zachary Hibler, 73, $221 each.
Steer wrestling: 1. Stockton Graves, 3.7 seconds, $1,765; 2. Riley Duvall, 4.2, $1,324; 3. Cole Edge, 4.4, $883; 4. Dean Gorsuch, 4.7, $441.
Team roping: 1. Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, 5.6 seconds, $1,765; 2. Jesse Stipes/Billie Jack Saebens, 6.3, $1,324; 3. Mike Bacon/Joseph Harrison, 6.4, $883; 4. (tie) Jason Arndt/Austin Rogers and Hunter Munsell/Sawyer Barham, 6.7, $221 each.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jesse James Kirby, 82 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Satin Sheets, $1,765; 2. Joe Lufkin, 80, $1,324; 3. (tie) Ryan Bestol and Shade Etbauer, 77, $662 each.
Tie-down roping: 1. (tie) Tyler Mathew Milligan and Cole Bailey, 7.6 seconds, $1,545; 3. Bryson Sechrist, 7.7, $883; 4. (tie) Cole Wilson and Trell Ebauer, 8.1, $221 each.
Barrel racing: 1. Shy-Anne Jarrett, 16.30 seconds, $1,788; 2. (tie) Mary Burger and Lauren Magdeburg, 16.32, $1,117 each; 4. Kim Couch, 16.56, $447.
Bull riding: 1. Chris McCombs, 81 points on Silver Creek Rodeo’s Crabby Abby, $1,765; 2. Trevor Kastner, 80, $1,324; no other qualified rides.