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The words of Ted Harbin, winner of the 2010 PRCA Media Award for Excellence in Print Journalism
Updated: 36 min 51 sec ago

Education is key to success

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 15:36

AMERICAN ROYAL UTILIZES LESSONS TO TEACH YOUNG PEOPLE ABOUT AGRARIAN VALUES

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The lives of countless children have been positively affected over the year through the American Royal.

From facility tours to historical lessons, Kristie Larson and her crew work to spread the word about the charitable organization’s legacy, which is celebrating its 115th year. It’s a process she holds dearly with each project, with each young life.

“Our mission is to educate young people about agriculture and where their food comes from,” said Larson, the American Royal’s director of education. “As kids are becoming further removed from the farm and from production agriculture, I think it’s important that we show them that we are blessed to live in the United States where we have a safe, healthy food source.”

AmericanRoyalThat’s the purpose of the American Royal’s education philosophy, and it’s something the staff works toward all year. It’s especially poignant during the association’s fall festival, which takes place from early September through mid-November.

“We focus on agrarian values, too,” Larson said. “That’s where those competitive events come in. Not only does the American Royal offer all those, but all of the things we do are still relevant today. Although we have a long, proud history, we are still doing things that are relevant that kids and adults learn from.”

The Royal conducts museum tours all year and will have outreach programs through YMCA groups and charter schools. Throughout the school year, there are opportunities for educators to take advantage of American Royal material.

“We invite students to come through, and we try to focus our approach on what they are learning about at that time,” Larson said. “We are establishing partnerships with PREP-KC, which is a high school program focusing on urban youth.”

The biggest educational opportunity during the fall festival will be school tours during the final week of September to coincide with the Invitational Youth Rodeo.

“The kids love coming not only because of the educational opportunity with it, but they get to see kids their age in the rodeo,” Larson said. “You get learning and the fun rodeo atmosphere. The teachers like it. It is a very unique programming to what else is offered out there for school trips and field trips.”

The process not only serves as great training but also plays a vital role of passing along the core values that serve as the foundation for the American Royal. Each year, the association raises more than $1 million to youth and education.

“Whenever I take people through the museum tour and we walk through the horse stalls or the livestock shows or something else here at the complex, they tell me that they didn’t know we had all these programs,” Larson said. “The more people that learn about that, the more people we have that will understand the true mission of the American Royal.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Rangers preparing for season opener

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 13:06

ALVA, Okla. – The Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team has spent weeks preparing for the upcoming season.

The practice is about to be put to the test with the first event of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Central Plains Region, which takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Cherokee, Okla., just a stone’s throw from the Alva campus.

Stockton Graves

Stockton Graves

“One of the rodeo programs dropped its program this year, and no other program wanted to pick it up,” said Stockton Graves, Northwestern’s rodeo coach. “We are doing this as a favor to the region so that we can have 10 region rodeos.

“We are still going to have our own rodeo later this fall in Alva. We knew it was going to be tough on our great sponsors to have two of them in Alva in the fall, so we opted to put one in Cherokee. I think it’s very doable.”

The Central Plains Region features four fall rodeos and six in the spring. That’s why Graves and his team agreed to have the Cherokee Rodeo hosted by NWOSU.

“I think we could’ve very easily put on a rodeo in Alva in both the fall and spring, but since the region wanted to keep the number of rodeos the same in each semester, we’re basically going to have two rodeos around here in the fall,” Graves said. “I got as close as I could to where both Alva and Cherokee could both benefit. It’s a great facility. This is really for the kids so they could have 10 rodeos instead of nine, and we’ve had a good response from both Alva and Cherokee.”

Northwestern’s traditional rodeo will take place Oct. 30-Nov. 1 in Alva. Because the rodeo team hosts both events, that means a lot of work by the by team members to get everything ready for the other programs that will be part of the competition.

“We’re excited to get things started, and I’m sure the kids are ready,” Graves said. “I’m really excited about the upcoming season. We got a really good recruiting class and a lot of talented kids coming in. I think combined with our returning cowboys and cowgirls, we’re going to have a good mix.”

The list of returners includes three qualifiers from the 2014 College National Finals Rodeo: steer wrestler Steven Culling of Fort St. John, British Columbia, and goat-tiers Karly Kile of Topeka, Kan., and Lauren Barnes of Buckeye, Ariz. Culling finished third at the national championship, while Barnes placed third in the CNFR’s final go-round to end her season on a high note.

“From what I’ve seen so far, I think we have a very solid team, and I have expectations for us to be in the hunt for the regional titles at the end of the season,” Graves said.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Colleges to benefit from challenge

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:57

STILLWATER, Okla. – The focus of any college program is to better prepare students for life off campus.

With that thought in mind, organizers of the Colt Starting Challenge USA have teamed together with a few select colleges and universities to bring its competition to their communities in order to showcase true horse trainers with this inventive competition.

“Our competitions are also a way to showcase a way of starting colts and young horses, and we wanted to make it an opportunity for college equine programs to experience it and be part of it,” said Russell Beatty, founder of Colt Starting Challenge USA. “We want the colleges to benefit from this experience, too.”

There will be four challenges throughout the fall semester, with the next taking place from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, and noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at the Oklahoma State University’s Animal Science Arena on the west edge of campus.

“This is a new deal for us,” said Dr. Steven Cooper, associate professor in animal science and the head of the equine teaching program in Stillwater, Okla. “What we’re excited about is it’s going to be a little different. He’s reserving a couple of spots for college students to compete.”

The Colt Starting Challenge features several horse trainers working with colts or young horses that have had limited handling. None of the animals will have been saddled nor bridled, then the trainers will utilize natural horsemanship methods to work their animals over the course of the two-day, judged competition.

At the conclusion of their few hours of working with the horses, the trainers will then ride the horses through a series of obstacles to show how these animals work in a short amount of time with focused training that centers around the animals’ instincts and personalities.

“One reason we’re involved is because we have an equine program, and our bread and butter is that we start colts under a saddle,” said Jake Walker, who, with Jake Lawson, are agriculture equine instructors and rodeo coaches at Connors State College in Warner, Okla. “It’s always an interest of us being a small junior college that anytime we can get equine folks on our campus, we try to focus on that.”

The Connors State challenge will take place Oct. 3-4 at the Fred Williams Indoor Arena on the school’s campus. The final collegiate event will be Oct. 24-25 at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

“We also have an annual festival here in Warner, and we’ve been asked to be part of that for years,” Walker said. “We’re actually going to host the Colt Starting Challenge with the Warner Cowchip Day. That will be going on downtown, then we’ll host the competition.

“We want to get the people to campus to show off our programs, and we’re using it as a community effort with the cowchip day.”

Each school has its own reasons for hosting the events, but it comes down to showcasing their own programs. That works well with the basic premise of the Colt Starting Challenge USA.

“This is a fund-raiser for the OSU Horseman’s Association,” Cooper said. “That’s a group of undergraduate students that are active both on and off campus working with certain aspects of the community.”

While some schools are using the format as a fund-raiser, Connors State will focus raising awareness.

“We just want to get our name and our programs out there,” Walker said. “We are letting people know we’re here and that students can earn an education here while being involved in equine.”

Colleges to benefit from challenge

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

New events highlight 2014 fair

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:46

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – In its few years in the PRCA, the Waller County Fair and Rodeo has become quite a showcase for the very best the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has to offer.

That will be amped up even more starting with this year’s exposition, which will feature two new rodeo events: The Eliminator, a six-man tie-down roping battle, and the 8 Second Bareback Shootout, a head-to-head competition between two of the top bareback riders in the game.

WallerLogo“We’re always looking to make improvements to our fair and rodeo,” said Rocky Politi, a long-time member of the Waller County Fair Board’s rodeo committee. “I think these two events are going to be a great fit for our fair and rodeo, because they say so much about Waller County and our area as a whole.

“We wanted to bring something different and entertaining to our die-hard rodeo fans.”

The Eliminator will be part of a night of calf roping that begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead. It will be headlined by a half-dozen of rodeo’s brightest tie-down ropers: reigning world champion Shane Hanchey of Sulphur, La.; Tyson Durfey, a five-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Weatherford, Texas; Houston Hutto, a four-time NFR qualifier from Tomball, Texas; Timber Moore, a two-time NFR qualifier from Aubrey, Texas; Marty Yates, a 2014 NFR qualifier from Stephenville, Texas; and Reno Gonzalez, a two-time AQHA champion from Magnolia, Texas.

The event starts with all six competing in the first round. The cowboy with the slowest time in each round will be eliminated, with only two ropers competing in the final go-round for the championship.

“I really liked the idea behind it, and I thought it would be a unique event to be involved in,” said Durfey, a three-time Canadian champion who won the tie-down roping title at RFD-TV’s The American this past spring. “In the beginning, you don’t want to make any mistakes so you can make it back. At the end, you’re going to have to go for it. By the time we get down to the final few rounds, you’re going to see some pretty fast runs.

“It’s probably been three years since I’ve been in a situation like that. It’s definitely something the fans haven’t really seen. I think it’s a great format and should be a lot of fun to be part of.”

The 8 Second Bareback Challenge is also dubbed The Mentor vs. The Protégé, with veteran Clint Cannon matching his skills against third-year pro Richmond Champion. Cannon is one of the organizers of the Southeast Texas Bareback Riding School, which takes place every fall in Hempstead; Champion first began riding bareback horses at the school.

The challenge will take place during the second performance of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3.

“It’s going to be fun, because it’s my hometown rodeo and I get to go against Richie,” said Cannon, a four-time NFR qualifier from Waller. “I helped Richie get started, and he’s an awesome bareback rider. It’s going to be head-to-head, experience and youth.”

Champion, who won $1.1 million earlier this year during a non-PRCA sanctioned rodeo called RFD-TV’s The American, is from The Woodlands, Texas, so this also is an event that’s close to home. He has been ranked among the top 10 in the PRCA world standings much of this season and is a virtual lock to earn his first trip to the NFR.

“Richie has been a really good bareback rider for a long time,” Cannon said. “He’s always had an ability to do good. To see him progress to where he is right now going to his first NFR and winning a million bucks is awesome.

“He’s a very humble kid and rides really good.”

That’s plenty of incentive for the veteran Cannon, who has multiple RodeoHouston titles to go with his NFR qualifications. He’s battled a few injuries this season, but he’s ready for his opportunity to shine in Waller County.

“I know youth is going to take over one day, but I’m hoping to hold that off a little while longer,” he said. “This is going to be a lot of fun.”

That’s just what fans want to see.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

It’s voting time in the PRCA

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 10:45

I saw the full list for of PRCA end-of-the-year-award nominees yesterday, and it’s filled with some of the most talented, hard-working people I’ve worked with.

BallotIt is my honor at every rodeo at which I’m hired to share time with these people. They work hard for their wares week in and week out, and these nominations are the annual pots of gold at the end of a long, long rainbow. Why is it so special?

Because voting by the PRCA membership decides the winner in each category.

Here’s the rub: Because the association has refused for so many years to utilize the technology available to put the voting online, PRCA members must, first, be home in order to get their mailed ballot. That’s pretty tough at the end of the rodeo season for those that are on the road for so many weeks a year and are chugging along with hopes of qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo or realizing some annual goals. Hopefully that will change very soon.

Despite the challenges, I urge my friends that are members to vote and mail your ballots back in by the deadline. The only way to sway the annual awards ceremony away from being an annual celebration of the status quo is to have a high voter turnout. Vote your conscience or vote for your friends, but vote.

If you haven’t seen the list, it looks like this:

Stock Contractor
Pete Carr Pro Rodeo
Frontier Rodeo
Andrews Rodeo
Stace Smith Pro Rodeo
Beutler & Son Rodeo

Announcer
Wayne Brooks
Randy Corley
Mike Mathis
Boyd Polhamus
Andy Stewart

Secretary
Linda Alsbaugh
Sunni Deb Backstrom
Amanda Corley-Sanders
Sandy Gwatney
Haley Schneeberger

Bullfighter of the Year
Dusty Tuckness
Kenny Bergeron
Cory Wall
Aaron Ferguson
Darran Robertson
Cody Webster

Dress Act of the Year
Rider Kiesner
Anthony Lucia
Jerry Wayne Olson
One Arm Bandit – Amanda and John Payne
Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls – Jennifer Nicholson, Brandi Phillips

Comedy Act of the Year
John Harrison
Keith Isley
Troy Lerwill
Gizmo McCracken
Mark Swingler

Clown of the Year
John Harrison
Keith Isley
Troy Lerwill
Justin Rumford
Cody Sosebee

Small Rodeo of the Year
Cave Creek, Ariz.
Claremore, Okla.
Goliad, Texas
Huntsville, Texas
Winnsboro, La.

Medium Rodeo of the Year
Amarillo, Texas
Coleman, Texas
Deadwood, S.D.
Estes Park, Colo.
Weatherford, Texas

Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year
Cheyenne, Wyo.
Lovington, N.M.
Ogden, Utah
Pendleton, Ore.
Salinas, Calif.

Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year
Denver, Colo.
Fort Worth, Texas
Jackson, Miss.
Rapid City, S.D.
San Antonio, Texas

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

A swing of momentum

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:36

REIGNING CHAMPS GAIN CONFIDENCE WITH RUNS IN KANSAS CITY

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A year ago, bull rider Tim Bingham was down and almost out. The year-long struggles had worn him out, and the end of the 2013 season couldn’t come soon enough.

Tim Bingham

Tim Bingham

That changed in just eight seconds on the final weekend of September, when Bingham rode Wild Card Rodeo’s bull 822 for 88 points to win the American Royal PRCA Rodeo. He finished his campaign on a high note, and that has capitalized him toward top of the bull riding mountain in 2014.

“That one ride just gave me a ton of confidence,” said Bingham, 23, of Honeyville, Utah. “I was burned out. I was just going to finish out the year, take a break and reignite my fire, but going there and winning it changed my attitude fast. I had a bull that hadn’t been ridden that often, and I made one of the better rides I’ve ever made in my career.”

Those are the type of rides that will be featured at this year’s American Royal PRCA Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at Hale Arena. Many contestants will make their way to Kansas City on the final weekend of the 2014 regular season looking to capitalize on their solid campaign or to gain needed momentum.

“After I left Kansas City, I took a couple weeks off, then went to Billings (Mont.) and San Francisco to start my new season,” Bingham said, noting that he placed second in Billings and won San Francisco. “I went to some amateur events in Utah after that, and I won all three that I went to.

“Between those six rides, I had no doubt in my mind that I was going to make the NFR this year.”

Tyler Corrington

Tyler Corrington

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is the sport’s year-end championship, which takes place every December in Las Vegas. Only the top 15 contestants in each event qualify for the finale, which is where world champions will be crowned. Bingham is fifth on the money list with nearly $78,000 this season.

“I got that motivation and that confidence in Kansas City, so I just decided to fire off and get the next season started good,” he said. “It hasn’t slowed down since.”

While Bingham used his momentum as an accelerant for this season, saddle broncs rider Tyler Corrington utilized his American Royal victory as a way to get back to basics before the NFR.

“It was really important for me to do well,” said Corrington, who finished the 2013 season ninth in the world standings.

Now the Hastings, Minn., cowboy rolls into the final few weeks of the season seventh in the standings. Corrington and Bingham are just two of the five reigning American Royal champions who are a virtual lock to be at the NFR in two and a half months, joining team bareback rider Winn Ratliff, heeler Patrick Smith and header Trevor Brazile, the most decorated champion in ProRodeo history.

They gained that needed confidence inside the American Royal complex, and they’re carrying it over to championship runs this season.

“This NFR has been a long time coming,” Bingham said. “Making it is just a dream come true.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

A Kansas championship

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 12:18

WORLD’S BEST STEER ROPERS TO COMPETE FOR GOLD BUCKLE AT KANSAS STAR ARENA

MULVANE, Kan. – For the first time in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association history, a world championship will be crowned in Kansas.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

The Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping will crown the first world champion of 2014 during its two-day run Nov. 7-8 at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane.

The best steer ropers in ProRodeo have been competing all season for one of 15 spots in the championship. They will continue to battle for the coveted gold buckle during the 10-round event inside the state-of-the-art arena just south of Wichita.

“I think change is healthy,” said Trevor Brazile, the four-time and reigning world champion steer roper who owns a PRCA-record 19 gold buckles. “Why not see what a venue change can do for the roping. I think it’s pretty exciting for steer roping.”

Since it first began in 1959, the NFSR has taken place in New Mexico, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Texas.

Mike Chase

Mike Chase

“It’s going to be nice to be in the state where I grew up,” said Mike Chase, who was raised in Beloit, Kan., and is heading to the finals for the fifth time in his 18-year career. “My friends will be closer to come watch, plus it’s very important that we have this event continue to grow.”

Kansas has a long rodeo history, and recently has been well represented in steer roping. Rocky Patterson of Pratt, Kan., is a three-time world champion who has been in a tight battle for the coveted gold buckle each of the past five seasons. He is just inside the top 20 in the world standings and will need to move into the top 15 to qualify for the 20th time.

Brazile is solid in his quest to return for the championship and looks to build on his record 11 all-around gold buckles. He is a virtual lock to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in team roping and tie-down roping.

“I would love another world title in steer roping,” he said. “The challenge for me every year is to try to get to enough of them. It seems I get stuck at going to 25 to 30 steer ropings when everybody else is going to 60. It’s hard to plan on winning a world championship like that, but when the opportunity presents itself, you try to capitalize on it.”

The opportunity will come in early November at the Kansas Star Arena.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Frost to speak at rodeo banquet

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 10:47

DUNCAN, Okla. – It’s been more than 25 years since Lane Frost was killed during the final round of the 1989 Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo.

He was a world champion bull rider and a fan-favorite who held a glimmering personality and a loving nature despite the rough-and-tumble sport in which he competed. He also was a man of God, which is what brings the greatest joy to his parents, Clyde and Elsie Frost. It’s a message they share with countless others as they tell tales of their inspiring son.

ChisholmTrailRPCFIt’s a message Elsie Frost will share during the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo banquet, set for 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Simmons Center in Duncan. A portion of the proceeds will go toward a local youth shelter.

“We’re very excited to have Elsie speak at our banquet,” said Joe Henderson, chairman of the committee that produces the regional finals rodeo, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16-18 at the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center in Duncan. “She has such a powerful message regarding faith and perseverance, and it’s something we all look forward to any time we get the chance.”

The life of Lane Frost was played out in the 1992 movie “8 Seconds,” though Hollywood took a few liberties with the final script. Still, the movie continues to be a driving force for many young people who continue to idolize the bull rider, even two and a half decades after his death.

Since that fateful day, lane Frost’s friends and fellow bull riders continued his legacy through the creation of stand-alone bull riding organizations Professional Bull Riders and Championship Bull Riding. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, for which Lane Frost was the 1987 world champion bull rider, also has created the Xtreme Bulls Tour, a series of stand-alone bull riding events that count toward PRCA world standings.

As Lane Frost’s legacy continues to grow, his memory serves as a great reminder of what faith and a champion’s heart mean in the world today. Elsie Frost will make sure of that.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Texarkana enjoys Carr’s passion

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 10:17

TEXARKANA, Ark. – The accolades are nice, but the reason Pete Carr produces rodeos is found deep in his love for the sport.

Over the years, Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo has been recognized as one of the top livestock firms in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. In 2013 and ’14, Carr has been nominated for the prestigious honor of Stock Contractor of the Year; meanwhile, 27 Carr animals were selected to perform at ProRodeo’s grand finale, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Pete Carr

Pete Carr

“We’ve certainly been blessed with some great success in the last few years,” Carr said. “We have a great group of hard-working people who care about the sport and everything that goes into it.”

The full package comes to fruition at the Four States Fair Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17-Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Four States Fair Entertainment Center in Texarkana, Ark.

“I know you couldn’t ask for any better animals at one rodeo,” said Ronny Sparks, a key member of the rodeo committee. “That’s what we want. One thing about our rodeo is that with this time of year, we’ve got a lot of guys coming that are on the bubble to make the National Finals (Rodeo). They only take the top 15 in each event, so they’re all busting their butts to make as much money as they can this time of year.”

For the 2014 season, the Carr firm will produce more than 30 rodeos and will have livestock at a number of other events across the country. It takes a great team and outstanding animal athletes to make those events successful, and Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo has both.

Heith DeMoss

Heith DeMoss

“We work really hard all year to produce the rodeos and feature the stock that will draw the top cowboys,” Carr said.

At the NFR this past December, Carr was represented by 12 bareback horses, five saddle broncs and 10 bulls – that’s proof of the all-around talent that spends most of its time on lush grassland at Carr’s ranch near Athens, Texas.

“He’s not even going to have a B pen before long,” said saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss, a five-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La. “He’s going to have an A plus and an A pen. He’s got an eye for horses, and he’s surrounded himself with people who know what they’re talking about. You want to go to Pete’s rodeos, because you’re going to get on something.”

That’s why the contestants make it a point to compete at Carr rodeos. Cowboys know their best chance to win is to be matched with a great partner.

“Pete has put together a good set of bulls,” said J.W. Harris, the four-time and reigning bull riding world champion from Mullin, Texas. “I think he wants to show that he’s got great bulls to go with his great horses.

“You know when you go to his rodeos you’re going to get on a good one. I like going to Pete’s rodeos because he’s got good people who work for him, but having all those good animals sure makes it easier for us to go to. Pete Carr’s come a long ways in just a few years.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Board has big plans for fair’s future

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 09:31

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The Waller County Fair Board is made up of visionaries who donate their time to the annual exposition.

Not only has the group worked hard preparing for this year’s event – set for Friday, Sept. 26-Saturday, Oct. they’ve got their sights set on a bright future for Waller County Fair and Rodeo.

“We have had so much community support for our fair and rodeo that it allows us the opportunity to think ahead and think of ways that we want to grow,” said Dustin Standley, the sponsorship chairman for the fair board. “We want our fair and rodeo to be the best. We want it to be the best in southeast Texas; we want to be the best fair and rodeo in the country.

WallerLogo“That’s our goal, and we’re working hard to get there.”

Many of the improvements have come this year. The fair board expanded parking and increased electrical hookups and space for more and bigger carnival rides. They’ve also added to the rodeo arena.

“We’ve got a new press box, new bucking chutes and will have a video board,” said Clint Sciba, the fair board president. “All of this is done to make it a better experience for everyone. We’re bringing in Double Rafter D Enterprises, which has a new, state-of-the-art LED scoreboard and replay board.

“That, alone, is going to enhance the experience for our rodeo fans. Whether they come Thursday, Friday or Saturday, they’re going to get a great show.”

It’s with that thought in mind that the fair board is looking to expand in the coming years.

“We are working with Preifert Complex and Facilities in designing a 200,000-square-foot covered arena,” Sciba said. “One side will be our rodeo arena with chutes, a VIP area and a capacity for 4,000 people. We will have a secondary arena with a return ally for team roping, calf roping and barrel racing activities.”

Initial plans call for the complex to have a conference room, four office and additional rooms for meetings. It’s being set up for multiple uses.

“We want to be able to have other events there, from graduations to monster truck shows to other Western lifestyle competitions,” said Paul Sholler, co-chairman of the rodeo committee. “This is just one of the many ways we show our community that we support them as much as they support us.”

That’s the defining statement for fair board members.

“Our VIP area is going to be exciting with six executive suites like you would see at any major sporting facility,” Sciba said. “It’s something we’re all looking forward to. This is Phase 1 of what we’re doing that we expect to be six or seven phases. This is a seven-year plan, but we hope to get started the next year and break ground on the new rodeo facility.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Waller County Fair continues to blossom

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 13:00

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The Waller County Fair is more than a local gathering; it’s an exposition in every sense of the word.

Hempstead is a thriving community of 6,000 people just 50 miles northwest of downtown Houston. Over the course of nine days each fall, it’s a boomtown with loads of entertainment. That’s the way organizers have planned things since last fall, and it’s why so many people continue to make it a hotspot.

WallerLogo“Each year we work very hard to come up with a way to make our fair and rodeo even better than it was before,” said Clint Sciba, president of the Waller County Fair Association, a group of volunteers who produce the annual expo. “This year we’ve got lots of things that we’re excited to showcase.”

That’s just what fair-goers have come to expect out of the Waller County Fair, which kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, with a youth rodeo. That’s just the beginning of a spectacular bazaar, which will continue through Saturday, Oct. 4, at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead.

“We’ve added to our carnival area to allow Moore Amusements to bring in new and larger rides,” Sciba said. “We have added 400 new amps of power and 27,000 square feet to the area.

“We also have an additional three acres of parking behind the fairgrounds to help everyone get in and out as safe as possible. We want them to get inside the fairgrounds and have a good time every night they are here.”

There will be plenty of good times, from the rides to the displays to a variety of rodeo-related events to the concerts, which will have a Texas Music flavor.

“We are starting our concerts on our first Saturday after Bullmania with Jarrod Birmingham, followed by Cody Johnson,” Sciba said of the Sept. 27 lineup.

They will be followed by Phillip Griffin and Max Stalling on Thursday, Oct. 2; Jody Booth and Josh Ward on Friday, Oct. 3; and Bart Crow and Brandon Ryhder on Saturday, Oct. 4.

“We have invested in two big fans to the entertainment pavilion to help keep everyone comfortable,” Sciba said. “We want a person’s experience at the Waller County Fair to be exceptional.”

Rodeo fans will have numerous opportunities to enjoy the sport, whether it’s through the open ranch rodeo to the open team roping to the Waller County Team Roping on Sunday, Sept. 28. The highlight on Tuesday, Sept. 30, will be the Eliminator Match, featuring six of the top tie-down ropers in ProRodeo competing in a six-run shootout; that follows a tie-down and ladies breakaway roping event.

On Wednesday, Oct.1, there will be a youth 3D and an open 4D barrel race, and the ProRodeo will have its three-day run from Thursday, Oct. 2-Saturday, Oct. 4. The Friday, Oct. 3, rodeo performance will feature the 8 Second Bareback Shootout, featuring veteran Clint Cannon of Waller going head-to-head against newcomer Richmond Champion of The Woodlands – Cannon is a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, and Champion is heading to his first NFR this year.

The Waller County Fair also is a showcase of animal athletic talent from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, one of the top livestock producers in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Each of the past two seasons, Pete Carr has been nominated for PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year; last season, 27 Carr animals bucked at the NFR, a record number from one livestock producer at ProRodeo’s grand finale.

Of course, all of this revolves around one of the most exciting annual fairs in southeast Texas, which means there will be plenty of opportunities for great food, livestock shows and other exhibits.

“Our community continues to step up to support our fair and rodeo and all the events that go with it,” Sciba said. “We are working to continue improving everything at the fairgrounds, and our ultimate goal every year is to make sure we give back to the community through scholarships. We have given out $250,000 in scholarships over the last six years, so that is very important to us.”

It’s important to fair-goers, too. They continue to make the Waller County Fair a premier destination every fall.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Rodeo clown living his dreams

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:33

HARRISON WILL BE ONE OF THE MANY ENTERTAINING ASPECTS  OF THE AMERICAN ROYAL PRORODEO

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

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

“It’s an awesome feeling for me and my family because it’s a position that’s voted on by your peers,” said Harrison, who will serve as the barrelman, funnyman and entertainer during this year’s American Royal PRCA Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at Hale Arena.

John Harrison

John Harrison

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

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

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

He will be a big part of the entertainment that is the American Royal. In addition to hysterical acts that showcase Harrison’s talent and athleticism, the Oklahoma man serves as a valuable piece of the puzzle that helps make for a near-flawless performance each time he speaks.

“We’ve heard many great things about John and are very excited to have him part of our fall festival,” said Bob Petersen, president and CEO of the American Royal.

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

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

“The one thing I love about the American Royal Rodeo is that with three performances, I can do something fresh every time,” Harrison said. “I do this for the love of the sport. Growing up with it, you enjoy it. Now I can actually make a living at it, so that helps.”

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

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

Not only does he have fun, he brings a lot of it with him. That makes him the perfect fit for the American Royal Rodeo.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

A Kansas championship

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 19:03

WORLD’S BEST STEER ROPERS TO COMPETE FOR GOLD BUCKLE AT KANSAS STAR ARENA

MULVANE, Kan. – For the first time in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association history, a world championship will be crowned in Kansas.

The Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping will crown the first world champion of 2014 during its two-day run Nov. 7-8 at the Kansas Star Arena Mulvane.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

That means the very best steer ropers in ProRodeo have been competing all season for one of 15 spots in the championship. They will continue to battle for the coveted gold buckle during the 10-round affair inside the state-of-the-art arena just south of Wichita, Kan.

“I think change is healthy,” said Trevor Brazile, the four-time and reigning world champion steer roper who owns a PRCA-record 19 gold buckles. “Why not see what a venue change can do for the roping. I think it’s pretty exciting for steer roping.”

Since it first began in 1959, the NFSR has taken place in New Mexico, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Texas.

“It’s going to be nice to be in the state where I grew up,” said Mike Chase, who was raised in Beloit, Kan., and is heading to the finals for the fifth time in his 18-year career. “My friends will be closer to come watch, plus it’s very important that we have this event continue to grow.”

Mike Chase

Mike Chase

Kansas has a pretty solid rodeo history in general, and recently it’s been especially well represented in steer roping. Rocky Patterson of Pratt, Kan., is a three-time world champion who has been in a tight battle for the coveted gold buckle each of the past five seasons. He is just inside the top 20 in the world standings and will need to move into the top 15 to qualify for the 20th time.

Brazile is solid in his quest to return for the championship and looks to build on his record 11 all-around gold buckles. He is a virtual lock to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in team roping and tie-down roping.

“I would love another world title in steer roping,” he said. “The challenge for me every year is to try to get to enough of them. It seems I get stuck at going to 25 to 30 steer ropings when everybody else is going to 60. It’s hard to plan on winning a world championship like that, but when the opportunity presents itself, you try to capitalize on it.”

The opportunity will come in early November at the Kansas Star Arena.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Horse lovers enjoy the Challenge

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 16:57

UDALL, Kan. – Bill Stiffler saw the Colt Starting Challenge USA competitions as the perfect opportunity for his horse rescue operation.

Stiffler, president of Friends of Horses in Centennial, Colo., needed good trainers to work with the horses that are at his complex. He found the right people through the unique competition, which matches trainers with young horses that have had limited handling, had never been saddled nor bridled and needed, and needed the understanding of great horsemen and horsewomen.

It’s that very competition that will take place from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, and 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, at Broken Y Indoor Arena in Udall. Patrons will need to provide their own chairs.

Bill Stiffler

Bill Stiffler

“When I first became aware of it, it came at an opportune time for me,” Stiffler said. “I had a number of younger horses that had never been started, some as old as 5 or 6 that nobody ever did anything with.

“Those horses don’t have very many options.”

Enter Russell and Cristy Beatty, who founded the Colt Starting Challenge USA. Competitions take place over two days and showcase some of the best trainers in the country. By the time the contest concludes on the second day, trainers will take their horses through a series of challenges to show just how far the animals come in a short time frame.

“I love it,” Stiffler said. “I think it’s very entertaining. When they first contacted me, it was to enter some horses, so I entered two. One had been turned out in a ranch next to an Indian reservation. The other came from an animal hoarder, and she was probably 4 or 5 years old and had never been touched.

“The guy that won the competition did so on her. I didn’t think there was ever any way they’d ever get to ride that mare, much less do what they did on her that second day.”

The trainers utilize natural horsemanship techniques, which utilize each animal’s natural instincts. Mike Major is a horse trainer now living in Texas, and he has served as a Colt Starting Challenge judge – each trainer receives markings by judges to decide the winners of each competition.

“The one thing about it is they give a lot of people an opportunity to get some recognition that would’ve never gotten it before on their ability to start colts and other things, too,” Major said. “The good thing, too, is that it gives the public some more awareness of other methods to start colts. I think that’s what everybody’s looking for: knowledge on how to do this without getting killed.”

This isn’t the old-school style of breaking horses to work under a saddle, whereby cowboys would saddle a young horse, then ride through the bucking and kicking in order to teach the animal to work. Natural horsemanship allows the horses the opportunity to understand its surroundings while gaining confidence.

“What you look for as a judge is for the trainer’s ease around horses, being comfortable and confident,” Major said. “The horse feeds off that. You also judge on the ability to accomplish what you need to accomplish.”

That’s what makes it exciting, not only for the contestants but also horse owners and those viewing from the audience.

“I’m an old-time trainer,” Stiffler said. “I have a cowboy, and I put a horse with him for 30 days, and that horse comes back dead broke. Now I’m looking to expedite the process. That’s what I enjoy, seeing them take a green horse and ride them through the event. They work the crowd, and they make it more interesting.

“I think for anyone who loves to see what horses can do, this is an opportunity for them to see something really special.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

New challenge accepted

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 11:14

AMERICAN ROYAL TO CONDUCT FIRST BUSINESSMEN’S STEER CHALLENGE DURING RODEO

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The American Royal ProRodeo has found a new fan-favorite event.

The 2014 rodeo will feature the inaugural Businessmen’s Steer Challenge, which will have a preliminary round during the Friday, Sept. 26, performance of the American Royal ProRodeo at Hale Arena.

AmericanRoyalThe top two teams from Friday will then advance to the finale during the second performance, which will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, where they will be matched against a team from Bayer HealthCare Animal Health Division.

“This is going to be an exciting new event I think everyone will love,” said Mariner Kemper, chairman of the American Royal and participant in the challenge. “Friday night of the rodeo is corporate night, and what is a better way than having your colleagues cheer you on as you get an opportunity to show your cowboy skills. I think the audience will have a greater appreciation for the professional cowboys and how easy they make it look,”

The Businessmen’s Steer Challenge will feature 12 two-person teams. One will hold onto a lead rope attached to the steer, while the other ties a ribbon around the animal’s tail. The first team to complete the task and cross the finish line is the winner.

“I think everyone should come out and see the fun,” Kemper said. “Even I am going to compete; it will be a great event that I plan on winning.”

In addition to the Bayer HealthCare Animal Health Division and Kemper/Bichelmeyer teams, others will be sponsored by the BOTAR’s, Hilton Garden Inn, Kennedy & Cole LLC, Cerner Corp., Sprint, Livestock Marketing Association, Conway Farms, Raphael Group and Commerce Bank.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Wards gunning for circuit titles

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 15:24

DUNCAN, Okla. – Andrew and Reagan Ward’s goal was simple from the start: Get to Duncan in October, then move on.

While the mindset was straightforward, the path was steeped with landmines. From roping competitors to tough-to-handle steers to long drives and little sleep, there have been many challenges in the 2014 season for the team roping brothers from Edmond, Okla.

ChisholmTrailRPCFThe Wards have secured the first step of their plan, qualifying for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16-18 at the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center in Duncan. The next step is to perform well in the arena and earn spots in the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which will take place next spring in Ocala, Fla.

“What we’d really like to do is to make it to Florida,” said Reagan Ward, 27, the No. 1 heeler in the Prairie Circuit, the ProRodeo region made up of events and contestants primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. “I don’t care if we win the year-end or the circuit finals average, but the goal is to get to Florida.”

Only the year-end and average champions in each event qualify for the national championship, which will feature the top two contestants in each event from each of the 12 circuits nationwide.

“That’s why we go to rodeos; we’re trying to make it to Florida,” said Andrew, 24, who has virtually clinched the region’s heading year-end title. “We went to more circuit rodeos just trying to make it to Florida.

“You want to do good at the circuit finals. We’ve (finished) second in the average two years in a row and didn’t go to as many circuit rodeos as we did this year.”

The Wards have done quite well over the last few seasons, and this year is no exception with each earning more than $16,500 in circuit cash through labor Day. They won rodeos in Woodward, Okla.; Hastings, Neb.; and Topeka, Kan. They also fared well at big-money Kansas rodeos in Dodge City and Phillipsburg. Andrew owns a $5,700 lead over the No. 2 header, Troy Boone of Mutual, Okla.; Reagan’s lead is just $1,100 over Billie Saebens of Nowata, Okla.

“Getting to Duncan and giving us a chance to win the average is important for us,” Reagan said. “It’s just important that we go in there and catch three.”

The circuit finals features three go-rounds, and the team that posts the fastest three-run cumulative score will be crowned average champion. Each dollar counts, too, with the season’s top money-earners at the conclusion of the finale winning the year-end titles.

“We’re just trying to get better while competing in the circuit,” Andrew said. “That way you can stay closer to home and keep your money around while still rodeoing.”

What’s even better is that the siblings do it together.

“He’s really the only guy I’ve ever roped with,” Reagan said of his younger brother. “It’s still fun. We high school rodeoed together and college rodeoed together.

“I think one of the reasons we’ve been successful is because of the work we’ve put in together. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”

That assurance goes both ways.

“We really don’t know anything different,” Andrew said. “It’s fun when we win, because we’re winning double.”

The brothers are just two of the circuit standings leaders with about two weeks remaining in the 2014 season. Other leaders are bareback rider Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas; steer wrestler Cole Edge of Durant, Okla.; saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell of Boxholm, Iowa; barrel racer Gretchen Benbenek of Aubrey, Texas; tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla.; steer roper Chet Herren of Pawkhuska, Okla.; and bull rider Sage Kimzey of Strong City, Okla.

They’re all locked to compete during the finale in Duncan, a showcase of the greatest ProRodeo stars in the game aligned in one three-night championship.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

American Royal preparing for festival with youth as the beneficiary

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 12:54

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Every move made inside the American Royal complex is specifically designed for the association’s mission.

As the foundation that holds the footing for everything involved in the American Royal and its fall festival, the mission is to promote and celebrate the excellence in agricultural progress and develop future generations of leaders through agrarian values, disciplines and expressions of skills.

AmericanRoyal“At the heart of what the American Royal does is as a children’s charity,” said Bob Petersen, the American Royal’s president and CEO, explaining that the association’s purpose is to provide scholarship, education, awards and competitive learning experiences that reward hard work, leadership skills and agrarian values.

“We are very proud that we provide more than a million dollars every year for youth and education, and we are equally proud of the variety of ways we do that.”

This year marks the American Royal’s 115th year with its marquee event on the horizon. The fall festival begins in early September and runs for two and a half months, from various horse shows, livestock shows, youth events, rodeos and the World Series of Barbecue.

“Last year we had more than 270,000 people who came through our doors during the fall festival,” Petersen said. “In addition to that money going toward youth in Kansas City, having that kind of attendance is important to everything we do.”

It also is important to Kansas City. The American Royal provides a substantial economic impact to the area. Thousands come to town to participate in the fall festival, and thousands more arrive to take in the festivities. It’s the perfect fit for its theme: “Kansas City’s Most Authentic Asset.”

“We have been around for more than a century, and we’re looking to build on that history,” Petersen said. “We want everyone in Kansas City to know that the American Royal is more than our fall festival; the American Royal is Kansas City, and we want youth to benefit from everything we do.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Trainer brings her passion to work

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 11:30
Michelle Gilles works with a young roan horse during a recent Colt Starting Challenge USA event in Cortez, Colo. Gilles has utilized techniques she gathered in the competitions to aid in her training business, and she continues to compete. (COLT STARTING CHALLENGE USA PHOTO)

Michelle Gilles works with a young roan horse during a recent Colt Starting Challenge USA event in Cortez, Colo. Gilles has utilized techniques she gathered in the competitions to aid in her training business, and she continues to compete. (COLT STARTING CHALLENGE USA PHOTO)

DURANGO, Colo. – Michelle Gilles is a horse trainer and a competitor.

She also is a wife and mother, and no matter where she goes, she does so with her family involved. Whether it’s working her business at their home near Lubbock, Texas, or on the road at competitions, it’s certainly family time.

“A family that works together, plays together and stays together,” said Gilles, owner of Michelle Gilles Horsemanship. “Everywhere I go, it’s me, my husband and kids.”

That works just fine. By combining family, work and competition, the native Californian is living her perfect life. That includes her ventures for Extreme Mustang Makeover events, reining contests and competing in the Colt Starting Challenge USA, the latter of which showcases trainers’ work with young horses.

In fact, the next challenge is set for 6-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, and 5-9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at the La Plata County Fairgrounds’ covered arena in Durango.

“The Colt Starting Challenge is a really great way to further your education with horses,” Gilles said. “It makes you have to learn who you truly are, because you are putting a lot of training in such a short period of time. You have to know your stuff.”

While she utilizes the challenges for self-training, Gilles’ true competitive nature comes out in full force when it’s time to enter the arena.

“The Colt Starting pen shows you where your holes are and where you have to go back and fix,” she said. “I do it to better myself and hopefully educate the public that there’s a new way of doing things.”

The Colt Starting Challenge focuses on natural horsemanship, which better utilizes a horse’s natural instincts. The techniques used are a far cry from what was done a generation ago and what many have seen regarding breaking horses on TV and in the movies.

The competitions are the brain child of trainer and horseman Russell Beatty. In the two-day challenges, trainers are matched via random draw to horses that have had limited handling; there has been no saddle nor bridle ever on the animal. To close out the challenge, trainers take their hoses through a variety of obstacles in order to show how far their animals have come in a short amount of time.

“I’ve been watching different competitions, and this was interesting because I am really good at getting these young ones going, and I enjoy getting the colts started,” Gilles said. “I got started by watching them, and I’ve already been to four. I watched Russell, and I really liked the sportsmanship and that with his competitions, it’s all about the horse.

“If you get in a bind in your pen and need help, another competitor can come in and help you. That’s an awesome part of the competition.”

As a trainer, she has taken a lot from the Colt Starting Challenges. In fact, some of the lessons learned have enabled Gilles to upgrade the techniques she utilizes in her home practice.

“I’m much quicker and more aggressive,” she said. “When I would get a green horse before, I would go slower and be methodical in the process. Now I have the tools to speed up the process of my training. Ideally the public wants a horst that’s past green broke in less than 30 days.

“Now I’m able to give a much better product to the horse community in a short amount of time.”

While trainers in the Colt Starting Challenge utilize the same philosophy, they go about their work using a variety of methods. For Gilles, adapting along the way is outstanding for her business.

“I was raised around horses my whole life,” Gilles said, noting that she began focusing on training while in college. “I started taking equine science classes. That’s where I started learning about starting colts.

“I fell in love with it. Horses are honest and pure, and they get out of it what you put into it. Horses have no bad intentions. What you give that horse, they give right back to you. The horse is really a reflection of who you are.”

Gilles’ passion is evident in everything she does, and she’s excited to share it through the Colt Starting Challenge USA.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Trainers shooting for finale

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:33

COLT STARTING CHALLENGE TO HAVE ITS FINALS IN VEGAS DURING COWBOY FANFEST

DURANGO, Colo. – There is tremendous excitement centering around the unique Colt Starting Challenge USA.

The new venture features horse trainers showing off their natural horsemanship skills over a two-day contest. The word is getting out, and the popularity of the events is growing rapidly.

How fast?

“We have developed to the point that we will have a finals this year,” said Russell Beatty, founder of the Colt Starting Challenge USA. “To make our finals, you have to go to at least two of our events, and we’ll take the top eight trainers.”

The finale will take place from 2:15-4:45 p.m. Pacific Time, Saturday, Dec. 6-Monday, Dec. 8, at the Cowboy FanFest Arena at the Las Vegas Convention Center during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“It’s really exciting to be part of Cowboy FanFest and to have an opportunity like that,” Beatty said.

The opportunity arose because the competition has a solid foundation. Based on natural horsemanship methods in working with young horses, the Colt Starting Challenge affords trainers the opportunity to show their skills in front of fans and other competitors.

Trainers will work with their colts over two days, then will showcase the horses by riding them through an obstacle course. Such is the case at the next event, set for 6-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, and 5-9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at the La Plata County Fairgrounds’ covered arena in Durango.

“We wanted to create Cowboy FanFest to attract ore of the male demographic that might not be as interested in shopping during the Cowboy Christmas at the Convention Center,” said Bo Gardner, the vice president for corporate marketing at Las Vegas Events. “We wanted to explore other areas of the Western world.

“We love the opportunity to do that with the Colt Starting Challenge. We got a sponsor that is going to help us support the finals. It’s something new that we can show our fans, and I think it’s something people are going to start following.”

They already are. At events across the country, interest is growing, and it’s not just the fans. Trainers are seeing the potential.

“If this has already grown to where there is a finals, I think this is something that can be big,” said Victor Sundquist, 20, a two-time event winner from Olathe, Colo. “What we do is through natural horsemanship training. We don’t use any spurs or twitches or hobbles. We use a horse’s natural instincts and communication. The horse wants to do it because of you.”

That’s one of the purposes of the Colt Starting Challenge. Trainers know that horses enjoy work, and communicating with the animals on their level is the key to success. Now rodeo fans that are in Las Vegas for ProRodeo’s championship will have the opportunity to watch it closely.

“Last year we had 196,000 people through our doors, which is a larger attendance than for the Thomas & Mack Center for the NFR,” Gardner said. “Over the course of 10 days, we broke several records.

“Our boss is one of those outside-the-box guys. We wanted to create an experience within the convention center, which has hosted Cowboy Christmas for some time. Cowboy Christmas has always been very successful, but if you continue to offer the same thing every year, it loses its flair. Also at Cowboy Christmas, there really isn’t a place to just sit down and relax. That’s what we wanted to do with Cowboy FanFest and to have a live stage and offer good entertainment.”

That’s how the Cowboy FanFest Arena was developed. In addition to the Colt Starting Challenge finals, the arena is home to the Miss Rodeo America horsemanship competition, mini bull riding, ranch shorting and a variety of other activities throughout the showcase.

It’s the perfect fit for horse trainers to showcase their talents.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

I am not Lazy Johnny Jackson

Sun, 08/24/2014 - 10:47

Over the last couple of days, I’ve had two dear friends contact me about Lazy Johnny Jackson, a character on Facebook.

To set the record straight, I am not Lazy Johnny Jackson, though I do follow his posts.

Ted Harbin TwisTED Rodeo

Ted Harbin
TwisTED Rodeo

For those not in the know, LJJ likes to stir the pot. In fact, he follows professional rodeo closely and posts about topics that will get folks thinking. Whoever the person is behind Lazy Johnny Jackson, he/she is very well written and has a sharp wit.

That wit is a little biting, especially if you don’t agree with LJJ’s comments. There have been exchanges and barbs shared with some of the greatest players in the sport.

The message I received this morning pushed me to write this. In the note, my friend spelled out the name of one accuser that is contacting many in rodeo, telling them that I am Lazy Johnny Jackson and that I’m purposefully stirring “crap” on Facebook.

It’s not me. While oftentimes I find LJJ’s posts and comments humorous, I’m not the kind of person to make comments under an assumed name. I also don’t possess LJJ’s quick wit. Since I first found LJJ on Facebook, I have, too, wondered his true identity.

But it’s my business to promote the sport of rodeo, its events and its people. It’s my passion, and it’s something I’m truly blessed to do. To accuse me of anything but that – in an effort to discredit my name and my credibility – is something I will fight against.

It’s much too important to me.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo
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