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The words of Ted Harbin, winner of the 2010 PRCA Media Award for Excellence in Print Journalism
Updated: 45 min 57 sec ago

Top cowboys return for TEC

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 13:23

TIMED EVENT IS A SHOWCASE OF RUGGED TALENT BY PRORODEO’S STARS

GUTHRIE, Okla. – In three decades of featuring rodeo legends, the Timed Event Championship of the World has crowned just a dozen men as its champion.

That is as true an indication of the challenge the greatest all-around timed-event contestants face through the five-round, 25-run contest, scheduled for March 6-8 at the Lazy E Arena. It’s a grueling contest that features 20 invitees all battling over three days in heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping.

Paul David Tierney

Paul David Tierney

For the first time in its 31-year history, the TEC will feature a $100,000 payout to its champion, making the overall purse a whopping $200,000.

“You want to be consistent and don’t beat yourself,” said Paul David Tierney of Oral, S.D., the reigning titlist. “You just need to go out there and make the run you need to make.”

That practice-run mentality of being slow and steady is harder than it seems. Each contestant earns the right to compete at the Timed Event, and they’re known for being fast as well as consistent. It takes a much different approach to make a run at the title inside the walls of the Lazy E Arena.

A year ago, Tierney out-dueled another young gun, 23-year-old Clay Smith of Broken Bow, Okla. Both will be part of a field that features the greatest cowboys in the game today, including several 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers: Steer wrestlers Trevor Knowles of Mount Vernon, Ore., Clayton Hass of Terrell, Texas, and Dakota Eldridge of Elko, Nev.; team ropers Dustin Bird of Cut Bank, Mont., and Erich Rogers of Round Rock, Ariz.; and tie-down roper Cade Swor of Chico, Texas.

They’ll be joined by a who’s who of elite rodeo cowboys, including past Timed Event champions and record-holders. They all know it takes the right approach, the right discipline, to make everything come together through the three-day championship.

Daniel Green

Daniel Green

“It’s adapt, adjust and overcome,” said Daniel Green, a three-time winner from Oakdale, Calif. “It’s the guy that perseveres.”

It’s a true test of endurance, talent and rugged instincts to overcome each challenge along the way. There’s a reason the Timed Event is best known as the “Ironman of ProRodeo.”

The Timed Event Championship is one of the most prestigious events in Western sports. It was developed 31 years ago as a way to decide the greatest all-around timed-event cowboy. Its list of champions is a who’s who of rodeo’s greatest stars. The tradition continues March 6-8 and the fabulous Lazy E Arena. Tickets are on sale now.

The 2015 Timed Event Championship is sponsored by Priefert Ranch & Rodeo Equipment, Pendleton Whisky, Wrangler, American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance, Miller-Coors, Cox Communications, Bloomer Trailers, MacroAir, Cross Bar Gallery, Ram Trucks, John Vance Motors, Western Horseman Magazine, R.K. Black Inc., Absolute Innovations, Gist Silversmiths, Spin to Win Magazine, National Saddlery, Hot Heels, Rodeo Video, CSI Saddlepads, Sherwin-Williams, the Best Western Edmond, and the Fairfield Inn & Suites – Edmond.

The 2015 Timed Event Championship is a Lazy E Production. For more information on the Timed Event Championship or other Lazy E events, contact the Lazy E Arena, 9600 Lazy E Drive, Guthrie, OK  73044, (405) 282-RIDE, (800) 595-RIDE or visit www.lazye.com.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Darrel Radacy – 1966-2015

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:21

Like so many from southern Colorado, Darrel Radacy moved to Oklahoma to chase his rodeo dreams.

Ted Harbin TwisTED Rodeo

Ted Harbin
TwisTED Rodeo

Radacy was a team roper I met more than a decade ago because of rodeo. A graduate of Panhandle State University, he was part of the Massey family of western Oklahoma, marrying Jami in 1990. I saw the two of them often while I worked around the region covering rodeo for the largest newspaper in the state.

These days, though, I tend to keep up with the Masseys and Radacys because of Facebook. I’m thankful for that.

Darrel Radacy died last Friday, just a few days shy of his 49th birthday, after suffering a heart attack. He leaves behind a loving wife and their beautiful daughter, Rally, who is carrying on a family tradition through sports. He also leaves behind other family members, a long list of rodeo family and dear friends.

A fund has been established in Rally’s name. If you’re interested, please donate to Legacy Bank, Drawer B, Binger, OK 73009, reference Radacy Trust.

I pray for comfort for Jami, Rally and all the others who were touched by Darrel Radacy. He was one of the good guys, and his place on Earth will be missed.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Range Round-Up moving home

Tue, 01/20/2015 - 15:57

GUTHRIE, Okla. – After a decade away, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association’s Range Round-Up is returning to its original home, the Lazy E Arena.

The 31st annual event will take place Aug. 28-29, 2015, at the Lazy E Arena, which served as a two-decade host of the Range Round-Up beginning with its inception in 1985.

NEW-LazyE-LOGO1-SMALLER“We are excited about the possibilities that this move will offer,” said Tim Drummond, the OCA Range Round-Up chairman. “The Lazy E has upgraded their facilities, and, as a committee, we feel it will work well for us and be a good change. In addition, the Lazy E wants to help us with our mission.”

Tickets are anticipated to go on sale in May.

The OCA Range Round-Up set out on a mission more than 30 years ago to provide family entertainment, promote beef and raise money for charity. The selected charity has varied over the years, but 2014 marked the 18th straight year the Children’s Miracle Network has been the charity. In that time, the OCA has donated more than $404,000 and formed a strong connection to the charity and its work.

The event will still consist of 12 ranch teams consisting of ranch cowboys that compete in six events that mirror many of the activities they do on the ranch. The Lazy E Arena is the perfect place to display it, with the largest dirt arena floor in the country and seating that provides spectators with that perfect vantage point no matter where the action happens. Just with the size of the arena, the cowboys have room to work their horses and handle livestock all while facing similar challenges in the pasturelands they patrol daily.

“The competition is fierce, but the cowboys don’t take home much more than bumps and bragging rights when it’s all said and done,” Drummond said with a grin. “Knowing that we are raising money to help sick children get well is an incentive and makes competing worth the while.”

About OCA: The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association exists to support and defend the state and nation’s beef cattle industry. The OCA officers, board of directors and membership encourages you to join us in our advocacy efforts to ensure less government intervention, lower taxes and a better bottom line. For more information about OCA membership or activities, visit www.okcattlemen.org.

About Lazy E Arena: The Lazy E hosts and produces 35 events a year, including the famed Timed Event Championship, the Professional Bull Riders and numerous other livestock and equine events. Built in 1984, the arena has a long-lasting legacy in Western events and continues to be a leader in promoting the Western way of life. For more information about the Lazy E Arena, visit www.LazyE.com.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Prater wins the battle

Sun, 01/18/2015 - 17:55
Saddle bronc rider Sean Prater of Muskogee, Okla., acknowledges the crowd after winning his third world championship during IFR 45. (PHOTO BY AMANDA RUTHERFORD, WAY OUT WEST PHOTOGRAPHY)

Saddle bronc rider Sean Prater of Muskogee, Okla., acknowledges the crowd after winning his third world championship during IFR 45. (PHOTO BY AMANDA RUTHERFORD, WAY OUT WEST PHOTOGRAPHY)

OKLAHOMA BRONC BUSTER WINS TIGHT RACY BY SHARING FINAL-ROUND TITLE

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sean Prater and Shawn Minor have been locked in a dogfight for the International Professional Rodeo Association’s saddle bronc riding world title.

The battle waged all the way through the final day of the season Sunday afternoon during the fourth go-round of International Finals Rodeo 45. Prater posted 79.5-point ride on Southern Rodeo’s Little Eddie to put the pressure on Minor, the final bronc rider of the afternoon. When Minor bucked off Southern’s Big Jill, Prater gathered his third gold buckle, matching the titles he earned in the 2008 and 2012 seasons.

“I didn’t even start off my year to win a world championship,” said Prater of Muskogee, Okla. “I was just taking my family down the road rodeoing. My wife is a barrel racer, so we just stick around Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, southwest Missouri and, occasionally we get off out east.”

That’s quite a different tale than the one told by Minor, a 23-time world champion who on Sunday clinched gold buckles in bareback riding and the all-around to close the gap on Dan Daily as the most decorated champion in IPRA history. Minor, of Camden, Ohio, competes for a living, while Prater spends most of his time on a ranch in eastern Oklahoma.

“I have a ranching job, so the IPRA allows me to go to good rodeos throughout the week and still tend to things on the ranch,” said Prater, an 11-time qualifier who first qualified for the IFR at 15 years of age. “It still gives me a chance to qualify for a good finals in the wintertime.”

His work at the finals made it pretty good. He won two go-rounds and pocketed nearly $3,600 in the process to pass Minor.

“It’s hard for me to be in that position, because I don’t go to as many rodeos,” said Prater, who first qualified for the IFR at the age of 15.

He earned the title by performing well enough at the rodeos in which he competed to be in position. It helps quite a bit that Prater rides well.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had a bad year,” he said. “Some are just better than others.”

This marks the conclusion of one of the better seasons for Prater, who serves as the saddle bronc riding director on the IPRA board. He continues to compete because of a true passion he has.

“I love to ride good horses, and I have a passion for the association,” he said. “My family’s been part of it for a long time. The IPRA’s been good to me and my family for a lot of years.”

Prater owns the gold buckles to prove it.

International Finals Rodeo
Jim Norick State Fair Arena
Fourth Go-Round
Jan. 18, 2015

All-around champion: Shawn Minor, Camden, Ohio, $68,204

Bareback riding: 1. Shawn Minor, 81 points on Three Bar J Rodeo’s Smoke This, $1,792; 2. Joshua Michael Cregar, 79.75, $1,344; 3. Brian Leddy, 77.5, $896; 4. Pascal Isaelle, 76.5, $448. Average: 1. Shawn Minor, 312.25 points on four rides, $3,583; 2. Mark Justin Kreder, 208.35, $2,688; 3. Billy Griffin, 306.75, $1,792; 4. Spur Lacasse, 305.25, $896. World champion: Shawn Minor, $41,912.

Steer wrestling: 1. Cord Spradley, 3.9 seconds, $1,792; 2. Brian Barefoot, 4.6, $1,344; 3. Danian Nutt, 5.0, $896; 4. Tim Kemp, 5.1, $448. Average: 1. Ronnie Fields, 16.5 seconds on four runs, $3,583; 2. Tim Kemp, 19.1, $2,688; 3. Brad Stewart, 26.9, $1,792; 4. Danell Tipton, 31.3, $896. World champion: Cody Mousseau, $19,395.

Team roping: 1. Eric Flurry/Wesley Moss, 4.8 seconds, $1,792; 2. Justin Thigpen/Lane Mitchell, 4.9, $1,344; 3. Chris Chandler/Cooper Bruce, 7.8, $896; 4. Cody Mousseau/Tyler Kidd, 9.2, $448. Average: 1. Cody Mousseau/Tyler Kidd, 29.8 seconds on four runs, $3,583; 2. J.D. Young/Alex Brooks, 40.2, $2,688; 3. Hadley Deshazo/Jeri Rhine, 54.5, $1,792; 4. Jesse Stipes/Casey Stipes, 22.8 seconds on three runs, $896. World champion header: Cody Mousseau, $23,362. World champion heeler: Caleb Anderson, $21,146.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Sean Prater, 79.50 points on Southern Rodeo’s Little Eddie, $1,792; 2. Shane Hand, 76.5, $1,344; 3. Travis Deal, 74, $896; 4. Dave Doyon, 72.5, $448. Average: 1. Shane Hand, 235.5 points on three rides, $3,583; 2. Jet McCoy, 233.35, $2,688; 3. Travis Deal, 218.25, $1,792; 4. Louis Hemart, 206.5, $896. World champion: Sean Prater, $36,386.

Tie-down roping: 1. Jared Kempker, 7.7 seconds, $1,792; 2. Cody McCartney, 8.1, $1,344; 3. Justin Thigpen, 8.4, $896; 4. (tie) Walt White and Ethan Hill, 8.8, $224. Average: 1. Ethan Hill, 37.8 seconds on three runs, $3,583; 2. Justin Thigpen, 38.5, $2,688; 3. (tie) Hadley Deshazo and Cody Mousseau, 40.4, $1,344 each. World champion: Justin Thigpen, $24,442

Breakaway roping: 1. Jamie Ellsworth, 2.3 seconds, $667; 2. Robi Jo Treat, 2.5, $500; 3. (tie) Emily Arnold and Megan Rinehart, 2.6, $250 each. Average: 1. Megan Rinehart, 11.2 on four runs, $1,333; 2. Samantha Herbert, 9.0 seconds on three runs, $1,000; 3. Paige Pursel, 9.3, $667; 4. Tina Hamilton, 12.6, $333. World champion: Amanda Stewart, $11,592.

Barrel racing: 1. Amber Mostoller, 15.237, $1,792; 2. Barbara Jimison, 15.280, $1,344; 3. Gabrielle Oder, 15.498, $896; 4. Tyrney Steinhoff, 15.528, $448. Average: 1. Amber Mostoller, 61.617 seconds on four runs, $3,583; 2. Gabrielle Oder, 61.715, $2,688; 3. Natalie Overholt, 62.455, $1,792; 4. Jessica Gauthier, 62.489, $896. World champion: Natalie Overholt, $26,009

Bull riding: 1. Garrett Tribble, 80.25 points on Ken Treadway Rodeo’s Fast’N Furious, $4,479; no other qualified rides. Average: 1. Garrett Tribble, 252.5 points on three rides, $3,583; 2. A.J. Vaal, 156.75 points on two rides, $2,687; 3. Jason Tinsman, 82.75 points on one ride, $1,792; 4. Winston Quesenberry, 82, $896. World champion: Garrett Tribble, $52,103.

 

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Fields goes 3 for 3 at IFR

Sun, 01/18/2015 - 00:11
Steer wrestler Ronnie Fields has won at least a share of the title during all three go-rounds so far at IFR 45 and leads the average heading to the final round. (PHOTO BY LACEY STEVENS, RODEO NEWS)

Steer wrestler Ronnie Fields has won at least a share of the title during all three go-rounds so far at IFR 45 and leads the average heading to the final round. (PHOTO BY LACEY STEVENS, RODEO NEWS)

3-TIME CHAMP WINS THIRD STRAIGHT ROUND AT HOMETOWN EVENT

OKLAHOMA CITY – Ronnie Fields picked himself off the Jim Norick State Fair Arena dirt, dusted his jeans and shook his head.

International Finals Rodeo 45 has been that good to the Oklahoma City steer wrestler. He has earned at least a share of the title in all three go-rounds so far. On Saturday night, he scored the fastest run of this weekend’s championship, a 3.3 that was worth another $1,792 check.

In all, the three-time International Professional Rodeo Association world champion has earned more than $4,900 in two days of work. He leads the IFR average race with a three-run cumulative time of 11.2 seconds. That works out to be $440 per each second of competition.

“I’ve been fortunate at every finals I’ve ever been to,” said Fields, 41. “I’ve never won three rows in a round like this, but I cannot give enough glory to my horse.”

Bump is a 15-year-old bay gelding that not only helped Fields qualify for the IFR, but he also guided David Reagor of Okmulgee, Okla., to the rookie-of-the-year title and his first trip to Oklahoma City’s championship.

Standings leader Cody Mousseau of Aylmer, Ontario, also has ridden the strong horse in Rounds 2 and 3 after struggling on opening night. Mousseau has earned more than $2,600 because of that.

“All the credit goes to God and to that horse,” Fields said. “I thank god for letting me have a horse of that caliber and him staying healthy and performing on a daily basis like he does.”

The Oklahoma cowboy spends most of his time working in the oil industry but still enjoys the rodeo trail on a part-time basis.

“I don’t get to practice as much as I used to,” he said. “My practice is more mental. Maybe I should have gone to that sooner, but I’m just thankful I’m healthy.”

Of course, he hasn’t earned all that money at the IFR without his body taking a few hits; such is the life of a steer wrestler. In fact, he took a shot during Saturday night’s run.

“I couldn’t believe that steer stopped the way he did, because he didn’t stop the two times before,” Fields said. “He popped up and hit me in the chin and my lip.”

He will recover just fine for Sunday’s final go-round of the IFR, which is sponsored by Love’s Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener’s, Graham’s, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston’s, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing. He’d love to win another round, but the average championship is also on his mind.

“You just take the runs the best you can and make the best of it,” he said.

International Finals Rodeo
Jim Norick State Fair Arena
Third Go-Round
Jan. 16, 2015

Bareback riding: 1. Trey Moore, 81.75 points on 5M Rodeo’s Indian Feather, $1,750; 2. Billy Griffin, 80, $1,344; 3. Justin Mark Kreder, 79, $896; 4. (tie) Shawn Minor and Pascal Isabelle, 78.5, $224 each. Average leaders: 1. Justin Mark Kreder, 235.5 points on two rides; 2. Spur Lacasse, 232.25; 3. Shawn Minor, 230.25; 4. Billy Griffin, 230.5.

Steer wrestling: 1. Ronnie Fields, 3.3 seconds, $1,792; 2. Cody Mousseau, 3.5, $1,344; 3. (tie) Tim Kemp and Jacob Dewetering, 4.2, $672. Average leaders: 1. Ronnie Fields, 11.2 seconds on two runs; 2. Jacob Dewetering, 13.0; 3. Cody Mousseau, 13.1; 4. Tim Kemp, 14.0.

Team roping: 1. Jacob Dagenhart/Zack Mabry, 4.3 seconds, $1,792; 2. Chris Chandler/Cooper Bruce, 5.3, $1,344; 3. John Alley/Clark Adcock, 5.4, $896; 4. Jesse Stipes/Casey Stipes, 5.9, $448. Average leaders: 1. Cody Mousseau/Tyler Kidd, 20.6 seconds on two runs; 2. John Alley/Clark Adcock, 22.9; 3. J.D. Young/Alex Brooks, 25.3; 4. Hadley Deshazo/Jeri Rhine, 38.3.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Shane Hand, 80 points on 5M Rodeo’s Mountain Mall, $1,792; 2. Jet McCoy, 78.5, $1,344; 3. Timmy Matthews, 77.75, $896; 4. Louis Hemart, 75.25. Average leaders: 1. Jet McCoy, 233.25 points on three rides; 2. Shane Hand, 158 points on two rides; 3. Timmy Matthews, 146.25; 4. Travis Deal, 144.25.

Tie-down roping: 1. Mitch Rinehart, 8.7 seconds, $1,792; 2. (tie) Trenton and Ethan Hill, 8.8, $1,120 each; 4. Bradley Chance Hays, 9.1, $448. Average leaders: 1. Tyler Milligan, 27.7 seconds on three runs; 2. Ethan Hill, 29.0; 3. Justin Thigpen, 30.1; 4. Cody Mousseau, 30.3.

Breakaway roping: 1. Katie Marie Kimble, 2.4 seconds, $667; 2. Megan Rinehart, 2.6, $500; 3. (tie) Bailey Livengood and Barbara Jimison, 3.0, $250 each. Average leaders: 1. Megan Rinehart, 8.6 seconds on three runs; 2. Samantha Herbert, 9.0; 3. Tina Hamilton, 12.6; 4. Jenna Lee Hays, 18.6.

Barrel racing: 1. Gabrielle Oder, 15.273 seconds, $1,792; 2. Maryse LaBlanc, 15.351, $1,344; 3. Amber Mostoller, 15.488, $896; 4. Natalie Overholt, 15.503, $448. Average leaders: 1. Gabrielle Oder, 46.217 seconds on three runs; 2. Amber Mostoller, 46.380; 3. Natalie Overholt, 46.851; 4. Jessica Gauthier, 46.912.

Bull riding: 1. Garrett Tribble, 87.75 on Rawhide Rodeo’s Jalapeno, $4,479. Average leaders: 1. Garrett Tribble, 172.25 points on two rides; 2. A.J. Vaal, 156.75; 3. Jason Tinsman, 82.75; 4. Weston Quesenberry, 82.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Tribble is a true young gun

Sat, 01/17/2015 - 18:13
Garrett Tribble, who clinched the world title before the IFR began, continued his hot streak by winning the second round Saturday afternoon. (PHOTO BY LACEY STEVENS, RODEO NEWS)

Garrett Tribble, who clinched the world title before the IFR began, continued his hot streak by winning the second round Saturday afternoon. (PHOTO BY LACEY STEVENS, RODEO NEWS)

17-YEAR-OLD CHAMP WINS SECOND ROUND AT IFR 45

OKLAHOMA CITY – Four months shy of his 18th birthday, Garrett Tribble of Bristow, Okla., is already a world champion bull rider.

“I couldn’t ask for a better year,” said Tribble, who has earned more than $39,500 this season in the International Professional Rodeo Association. “It’s been outstanding.”

That outstanding season continued Saturday afternoon, when he rode the Oubre Rodeo bull Donkey for 84.25 points to win the second go-round of International Finals Rodeo 45. His season earnings include the $1,792 he earned for having the highest-marked ride in the round.

“I knew that was a great bull,” said Tribble, a senior at Bristow High School who is wrapping up his rookie campaign in the IPRA. “I knew what I had to do, and that was hustling. It felt like he had me beat the whole ride, but it worked out.”

Yes, it did. It’s just another feather in the cap to a cowboy that started his career at age 6 riding sheep and advanced through the ranks – steer riding, junior bulls and full size bulls, the latter of which he began just a year ago. Now he’s competing at the IFR, which is sponsored by Love’s Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener’s, Graham’s, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston’s, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing.

“I just watch videos and practice on barrels,” he said. “I don’t hardly get on any practice bulls; it’s all mental really. If you psyche yourself out before you get on them, you’re not going to do any good.

“This is what I’ve wanted to do forever. Everybody just pushed me to be the best, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

He’s definitely off to the right start.

International Finals Rodeo
Jim Norick State Fair Arena
Second Go-Round
Jan. 16, 2015

Bareback riding: 1. Joshua Michael Creger, 79.5 points on Latting Rodeo’s High Protein, $1,792; 2. Shawn Minor, 77.75, $1,344; 3. Bruno Roby, 77.5, $896; 4. (tie) Brian Leddy and Spur Lacasse, 76.5, $224 each. Average leaders: 1. Spur Lacasse, 156.25 points on two rides; 2. Bruno Roby, 155.5; 3. Mark Justin Kreder, 154; 4. Joshua Michal Creger, 153.25.

Steer wrestling: 1. Ronnie Fields, 4.0 seconds, $1,792; 2. (tie) Cody Mousseau and Jacob Dewerting, 4.2, $1,120 each; 4. Brad Stewart, 4.3, $448. Average leaders: 1. Ronnie Fields, 7.9 seconds on two runs; 2. Brad Stewart, 8.2; 3. Jacob Dewerting, 8.8; 4. Tim Kemp, 9.8.

Team roping: 1. Gable Hildrebrand/Ethan Cory, 4.5, $1,792; 2. Zac Small/Joseph Harrison, 5.3, $1,344; 3. Jesse Stipes/Casey Stipes, 5.5, $896; 4. J.D. Young/Alex Brooks, 5.7, $448. Average leaders: 1. Gable Hildrebrand/Ethan Cory, 10.1 seconds on two runs; 2. Zac Small/Joseph Harrison, 11.7; 3. Jason Tucker/Caleb Anderson, 12.7; 4. Cody Mousseau/Tyler Kidd, 13.5.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Tyler West, 78.75 points on Wild Horse Rodeo’s Painted River, $1,792; 2. Shane Hand, 78.5, $1,344; 3. Jet McCoy, 78, $896; 4. Shawn Minor, 77.75, $448. Average leaders: 1. Jet McCoy, 154.75 points on two rides; 2. Sean Prater, 82.75 points on one ride; 3. Tyler West, 78.75; 4. Shane Hand, 78.5.

Tie-down roping: 1. Cody McCartney, 8.3 seconds, $1,792; 2. Mitch Rinehart, 8.9, $1,344; 3. J.C. King, 9.0, $896; 4. Tyler Milligan, 9.4, $448. Average leaders: 1. J.C. King, 17.9 seconds on two runs; 2. Tyler Milligan, 18.4; 3. Cody Mousseau, 19.7; 4. Ethan Hill, 20.2.

Breakaway roping: 1. (tie) Jamie Ellsworth and Robi Jo Treat, 2.7 seconds, $583 each; 3. Samantha Herbert, 2.9, $333; 4. Megan Rinehart, 3.2, $167. Average leaders: 1. Samantha Herbert, 5.9 seconds on two runs; 2. Megan Rinehart, 6.0; 3. Tina Hamilton, 6.3; 4. Jenna Lee Hays, 15.3.

Barrel racing: 1. Amber Mostoller, 15.350 seconds, $1,792; 2. Barbara Jimison, 15.426, $1,344; 3. Megan Rinehart, 15.478, $896; 4. Gabrielle Oder, 15.556, $448. Average leaders: 1. Amber Mostoller, 30.892 seconds on two runs; 2. Gabrielle Oder, 30.944; 3. Natalie Overholt, 31.348; 4. Jessica Gauthier, 31.393.

Bull riding: 1. Garrett Tribble, 84.25 points on Oubre Rodeo’s Donkey, $1,792; 2. (tie) Al Vaal and Jason Tinsman, 82.75, $1,120 each. Average leaders: 1. Al Vaal, 156.75 points on two rides; 2. Garrett Tribble, 84.25 points on one ride; 3. Jason Tinsman, 82.75; 4. Weston Quesenberry, 82.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

It’s a family tradition

Sat, 01/17/2015 - 00:07
Spur Lacasse of Mirabel, Quebec, rides Hampton Rodeo's Black Water for 79.75 points to win the first round of IFR 45. (PHOTO BY LACEY STEVENS, RODEO NEWS)

Spur Lacasse of Mirabel, Quebec, rides Hampton Rodeo’s Black Water for 79.75 points to win the first round of IFR 45. (PHOTO BY LACEY STEVENS, RODEO NEWS)

SECOND-GENERATION BAREBACK RIDER SPUR LACASSE WINS FIRST ROUND OF IFR 45

OKLAHOMA CITY – Spur Lacasse is carrying on a family legacy in the world of rodeo.

Lacasse, a 21-year-old bareback rider from Mirabel, Quebec, won Friday’s opening round of International Finals Rodeo 45, spurring Hampton Rodeo’s Black Water for 79.75 points, collecting $1,792 in the process.

That’s pretty good for a first-time IFR qualifier, whose father is Roger Lacasse, a 2012 inductee to the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame who owns two Canadian championships and qualified for the IFR numerous times over a storied career.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve loved rodeo more than anything,” the younger Lacasse said. “When I was 16 years old, I told my dad I wanted to try; he was a little surprised. I got on some ponies the first year and just went from there.”

It worked. He’s found great success already, earning his inaugural IFR qualification by finding success at the International Professional Rodeo Association’s Canadian Finals in May, where he finished second, and winning the title at St. Tite, Quebec, the IPRA’s largest regular-season rodeo.

“That’s what got me here,” Lacasse said, who rode the snappy bucking horse with the classic spur stroke to claim the first-round title. “Any winning is great, especially starting off the first round. It helps you get started and hopefully carry it over to the rest of the finals.”

It’s especially pleasing at the International Finals. There are 25 Canadians and one Australian competing in Oklahoma City. They all earned the right to be at the IFR by how well they did on the rodeo circuit, traveling all across North America. Now they’ll continue through the rest of the weekend, with the final three rounds taking place at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

“I actually love traveling, getting to see things a lot of people don’t get to see,” Lacasse said. “To me, it’s the best way of living. We do it for the adrenaline rush, but it’s also a lifestyle.”

International Finals Rodeo
Jim Norick State Fair Arena
First Go-Round
Jan. 16, 2015

Bareback riding: 1. Spur Lacasse, 79.75 points on Hampton Rodeo’s Black Water, $1,792; 2. Mark Justin Kreder, 78.5, $ 1,344; 3. Bruno Roby, 78, $896; 4. Danien Nutt, 77, $448.

Steer wrestling: 1. (tie) Ronnie Fields, Jason Stewart and Brad Stewart, 3.9 seconds, $1,344 each; 4. David Reagor Jr., 4.0, $448.

Team roping: 1. Gable Hildebrand/Ethan Cory, 5.6 seconds, $1,792; 2. (tie) Justin Thigpen/Lane Mitchell and Eric Flurry/Wesley Moss, 6.0, $1,120 each; 4. Zac Small/Joseph Harrison, 6.4, $448.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Sean Prater, 82.25 points on Hampton Rodeo’s Ignition, $2,240; 2. Austin Joseph, 77, $1,344; 2. Jet McCoy, 76.5, $896; no other qualified rides.

Tie-down roping: 1. J.C. King, 8.9 seconds, $1,792; 2. Tyler Milligan, 9.0, $1,344; 3. Cody Mousseau, 9.2, $896; 4. Justin Thigpen, 9.6, $448.

Breakaway roping: 1. Jenna Lee Hays, 2.7 seconds, $667; 2. Megan Rinehart, 2.8, $500; 3. (tie) Samantha Herbert, Tina Hamilton and Katie Marie Kimble, 3.0, $167 each.

Barrel racing: 1. Gabrielle Oder, 15.388 seconds, $1,792; 2. Amanda Mostoller, 15.542, $1,344; 3. Natalie Overholt, 15.563, $896; 4. Shanna Simmons, 15.618, $448.

Bull riding: 1. Nicolas Brien, 80.5 points on Latting Rodeo’s Shake & Bake, $2,688; 2. A.J. Vaal, 74, $1,7,92; no other qualified rides.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

IFR to be broadcast online

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 13:28

IFR2014LogoRedDateCan’t make it to the International Finals Rodeo this weekend but still want to watch?

The Wrangler Network will broadcast all four go-rounds. Just click on the HERE to go directly to the page and click on the IFR 45 logo.

The Wrangler Network is home to many great events and provides rodeo fans with an online outlet to keep track of their favorite sport. The IFR features the top 15 contestants in each event from the 2014 International Professional Rodeo Association season.

The broadcast schedule runs on time with each performance: 7:30 tonight, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Prairie Circuit has a strong NFR

Thu, 01/15/2015 - 12:01

DUNCAN, Okla. – The Prairie Circuit has a grand history in professional rodeo.

World champions from the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region dot the landscape, just as the tiny towns and larger communities: Shoulders, Duvall, Etbauer, Ferguson, Roberts, Ward and Gorsuch are just a few of those who have worn the coveted gold buckles.

Sage Kimzey

Sage Kimzey

Add Kimzey to that list.

Sage Kimzey is a 20-year-old bull rider who earned his first Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world championship this past December in what turned out to be an amazing performance at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo by those representing the Prairie Circuit.

Kimzey, the 2013 circuit champ, entered the 10-day finale in Las Vegas as the No. 1 cowboy in the bull riding standings. He then put on an incredible performance inside the Thomas & Mack Center, riding eight bulls, winning the NFR average title and pocketing more than $175,00 in the Nevada desert alone.

Kyle Irwin

Kyle Irwin

He finished the season with more than $318,000. But he wasn’t alone in standing out under the brightest lights in the game. He was joined at the NFR by steer wrestler Kyle Irwin, saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell and header Coleman Proctor.

All four cowboys own at least one circuit championship: Irwin and Proctor won their respective average titles during the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, which took place this past fall in Duncan, while Sundell claimed the year-end crown. The regional finale will return to the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center in October.

Wade Sundell

Wade Sundell

Irwin – a Robertsdale, Ala., bulldogger who attended Western Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships – wrestled 10 steers to the ground in a cumulative time of 60.7 seconds to finish fourth in the NFR average race. He earned nearly $88,000 in Las Vegas and finished the season as the No. 2 steer wrestler in the game.

Proctor, of Pryor, Okla., roped with longtime friend Jake Long to finish fourth at the NFR. Together they earned nearly $74,000 at the NFR. Proctor roped with year-end champion heeler Billie Saebens to win the circuit finals average title. It was a strong first NFR for Proctor, who finished fourth in the world standings.

Coleman Proctor

Coleman Proctor

Sundell, who had secured the year-end circuit title before he arrived in Duncan last October, had an incredible NFR, earning just shy of $97,000. He finished third in the world standings.

They weren’t the only Prairie Circuit representatives who found great success in Sin City in December. Lauren Heaton of Alva, Okla., became the first Oklahoma woman to win the Miss Rodeo America title.

“I am so proud to be the first Miss Rodeo Oklahoma to win the title,” said Heaton, who was part of the pageantry at the circuit finals. “I was raised in Oklahoma rodeo, and it gave me so much. I just want to take everything that the Oklahomans are with me as I travel the circuit. There is such a spirit in Oklahoma. It’s how I’ve created how much I am today.”

Lauren Heaton

Lauren Heaton

She was joined at the national pageant by Miss Rodeo Kansas Katera Harter and Miss Rodeo Nebraska Gina Jespersen.

“The Prairie Circuit was represented really well, with all three being in the top 10,” Heaton said of the Miss Rodeo America pageant. “I think that helps put the Prairie Circuit on the map.”

The circuit has been on the map. All three rodeo queens were part of the flair that was the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, but there were others, including bullfighters Chuck Swisher of Dover, Okla., and Cody Webster of Wayne, Okla., and barrelman Justin Rumford of Ponca City, Okla.

“This has definitely been a great year for the Prairie Circuit,” Heaton said.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

IFR an Oklahoma tradition

Wed, 01/14/2015 - 13:29

CHAMPIONSHIP HOLDS A SPECIAL PLACE IN THE HEARTS OF SOONER STATE CONTESTANTS

OKLAHOMA CITY – Middle America is the perfect home for the International Finals Rodeo.

“There are a lot of people in the state of Oklahoma that still love rodeo,” said Fields, a three-time International Professional Rodeo Association world champion steer wrestler from Oklahoma City. “This has a great history. Rodeo has lasted in Oklahoma, and it’s going to last. That’s the IPRA’s foundation.

“People have learned that this is what they have.”

IFR2014LogoRedDateIt’s pretty good. The IPRA has been around for 65 years, and this marks the 45th year for the IFR, which will have four performances set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. This also is the 25th consecutive year it has taken place in Oklahoma City.

Only the top 15 cowboys and cowgirls in each event qualify for the finale, which features contestants from across the United States, Canada and even one cowboy from Australia. They arrive in Oklahoma City with all the fan fair that’s deserving of a world championship.

“When I bought this IPRA card ready to compete, it got pretty serious,” said Danell Tipton, the 1995 IPRA world champion bull rider who has qualified for the IFR in steer wrestling in 2014-15. “If I’m in the top 15 and have a shot to make the finals in my back yard, then I’m going to go after it by any means necessary.”

Tipton is from Spencer, Okla., a town of about 4,000 people just east of Oklahoma City. It’s where the 41-year-old grew to become a cowboy.

“Having the IFR in Oklahoma City means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s been right at my back door and has been for years. I’ve always showed up here, and I’ve always performed outstanding when there was a rodeo in Oklahoma City.

“The IFR is where I grew up. I was raised in the IPRA.”

In addition to his top form in the Oklahoma City-based association, Tipton also has succeeded on rodeo avenue he had been down. He was a two-time bull riding qualifier to the National Finals Rodeo. Like Tipton, Fields qualified for the NFR from 2004-06. He won the average title his first season there.

But the IPRA is where he developed his passion for the game. He didn’t start wrestling steers until 1997, then earned his first gold buckle three years later.

“The great thing about the going to the IPRA rodeos is I’ve got to go back and see a lot of guys I hadn’t seen in a long time,” Fields said. “At the end of the day, it’s good to complete close to home and compete at the IFR. You have a lot of close friends and family that never get to see you perform.

“For all those people that support you all year long, this is their chance to see you perform.”

That family atmosphere is also a reason why the IPRA is popular among contestants. It’s also popular for businesses that support the IFR through sponsorships: Love’s Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener’s, Graham’s, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston’s, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing.

“The IPRA has been around for years, and it’s a strong family tradition,” Tipton said. “Family is a tradition. Family is important to the association. I like that.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Money on their minds

Mon, 01/12/2015 - 09:51

COWBOYS, COWGIRLS HOPE TO ROPE IN CASH DURING IFR45

OKLAHOMA CITY – Walt White owns eight International Professional Rodeo Association tie-down roping world championships.

He won’t win No. 9 this year, but he is still happy to be part of the field at International Finals Rodeo 45, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Jim Norick State Fair Arena.

“I’m just going to have fun and try to win as much money as I can,” said White, 43, of Ochelata, Okla., the 15th ranked tie-down roper. “I’m going to try to go out with a bang. I haven’t won the IFR average since the first one I was at; I think it would be cool to win the average at the last one.”

IFR2014LogoRedDateWhite figures this will be his last appearance at the IFR. He’s made more than a dozen trips to Oklahoma City for the championship over the years, winning gold buckles in 1992, ’93, ’95, ’97-2000 and ’03.

“I’m going to be the oldest one there this year,” White said of the tie-down roping field of 15 contestants. “It’s time to slow down. Except for the All-Region Finals (in Lexington, Ky.), Marshfield (Mo.) is the furthest one I went to. I didn’t go more than four hours from the house.”

While White is slowing down, Chance Hays is just getting started. This week marks his second qualification to the IFR – he also earned the trip in tie-down roping two seasons ago – and sits 13th in the world standings.

“It means a lot for me to make the IFR,” said Hays, a Bristow, Okla., cowboy who also makes his living as a Western artist. “I’m from Oklahoma, and having the finals in Oklahoma City and getting to compete against other talent from all over is an honor.”

That talent is quite capable. Four-time reigning world champion Justin Thigpen of Waycross, Ga., leads the race for the gold buckle with more than $20,000 in earnings. He owns a $3,500 lead over Canadian Cody Mousseau of Aylmer, Ontario.

Neither White nor Hays has a shot at the world title, but they have as good a chance as any roper in the game to win the coveted average title.

“My goal is to make the best runs I can make and see how much I can win,” Hays said. “I got a real late start this year. I’m riding a young horse this year, but next year I’ll have my good horse back, and I’m going to try to win the world championship.”

Both titles are something breakaway roper Jenna Lee Hays has her eyes on. The Weatherford, Okla., cowgirl is fourth in the world standings but is about $5,000 behind leader Amanda Stewart of Mt. Ulla, N.C. This is just the fourth IFR that has featured breakaway roping, which is just fine for Hays.

Of course, it helps that the IPRA has financial support from a variety of sponsors, Love’s Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener’s, Graham’s, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston’s, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing.

“I think it’s really exciting that they’ve added breakaway roping,” said Hays, who is an assistant coach for the Southwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team in her hometown of Weatherford. “It’s something that all the breakaway ropers really look forward to, to have an association like that to put breakaway roping in their finals.”

This marks the third time in four years she has qualified for the IFR.

“When the season starts, my goal is to make the IFR,” Hays said. “The roping gets pretty fast there. My goal when I get to the IFR is that I focus more on the average than the rounds. I’m more focused on being consistent. I won a round and the average in my first qualification.

“Just being consistent is the key. I just try to rope every calf the same. It doesn’t matter if he’s fast or slow; you just have to do the same things every run to have success.”

Finding a way to be successful inside Jim Norick Arena is the target of every contestant in the field of 126 cowboys and cowgirls. They’ve earned the right to be in Oklahoma City this week, and now they want to show everyone why.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Painting a brilliant picture

Sun, 01/11/2015 - 15:21

Inside every artist are a set of eyes that see things differently, that view the world in different dimensions.

Inside every cowboy rests a powerful workmanlike nature and a task-driven demeanor.

For the most part, they are opposite personalities, but they are both the truthful passions of a man named Chance Hays. He is from Bristow, Okla., and has found a way to marry his passions together. He’s a roper and a Western artist who thrives at both.

He has qualified for the second time to compete at the International Finals Rodeo. He also created the artwork that stands as the IFR45 poster, a piece he made of Garrett Tribble, who has already clinched the bull riding world championship as a rookie.

This weekend, Hays has been busy. In addition to prepping for the championship event, he also has organized an event in Bristow to honor his late grandfather, Walter Neill Hays, who died Dec. 12 at age 79.

“He was just an inspiration as a person,” Hays said, noting that the Hays Family Invitational is a good place to tune-up for IFR tie-down ropers, breakaway ropers and steer wrestlers.

Hays is the 13th-ranked tie-down roper in the International Professional Rodeo Association heading into the finale, which takes place Friday-Sunday at Jim Norick State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

He rode a young horse through much of the season while Superman recovered from an injury, but he will jump back on the 14-year-old dark chocolate gelding for the IFR and the 2015 regular season.

“I really want to make a run at that world title this year, and I think I have an opportunity now that I have my good horse back,” he said.

Hays wants to put together a painting he’ll refer to as “Gold Buckle.” He made need to find the right colors to make it sparkle, but he’s got the right brush strokes and passion to make it happen.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Wrestling for the gold

Fri, 01/09/2015 - 11:13
Justin Thigpen competes during IFR 44. Thigpen is the reigning two-time steer wrestling and four-time tie-down roping IPRA world champion. He will be in a battle to win the 2014 title at IFR 45 next week. (AMANDA RUTHERFORD PHOTO)

Justin Thigpen competes during IFR 44. Thigpen is the reigning two-time steer wrestling and four-time tie-down roping IPRA world champion. He will be in a battle to win the 2014 title at IFR 45 next week. (AMANDA RUTHERFORD PHOTO)

TOP BULLDOGGERS RACE FOR TITLE; OKLAHOMA COWBOYS RETURN TO GLORY DAYS

OKLAHOMA CITY – In all likelihood, the race for the International Professional Rodeo Association’s steer wrestling world championship will be between four cowboys.

Canadian Cody Mousseau owns a small lead over Brian Barefoot of Dunn, N.C.; Brad Stewart of Mt. Ulla, N.C.; and Justin Thigpen of Waycross, Ga. Thigpen is the two-time reigning steer wrestling and four-time reigning tie-down roping world champion who also is a tie-down roping qualifier for International Finals Rodeo 45, set for Friday, Jan. 16-Sunday, Jan. 18, at Jim Norick State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

Ronnie Fields won his IPRA world titles in the early 2000s, but he has enjoyed competing on a part-time basis. (AMANDA RUTHERFORD PHOTO)

Ronnie Fields won his IPRA world titles in the early 2000s, but he has enjoyed competing on a part-time basis. (AMANDA RUTHERFORD PHOTO)

Less than $2,000 separates the top four cowboys in the IPRA world standings, so the dogfight begins in a week when the top 126 cowboys and cowgirls in the Oklahoma City-based association battle for rodeo gold.

Thigpen isn’t the only world champ in the steer wrestling field. In fact, he’ll be joined by three-time bulldogging titlist Ronnie Fields of Oklahoma City and another top local cowboy, Danell Tipton of Spencer, Okla., who owns one gold buckle … in bull riding.

Next week marks the second straight steer wrestling qualification for Tipton, who won the 1995 bull riding world championship.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that I’ve been bulldogging for a while, since the early 1990s,” said Tipton, who also qualified for the National Finals Rodeo twice. “In 1993 and ’94, I started bulldogging a lot. I was entering rodeos in bulldogging then, but bull riding was more important than anything.

“As I’ve gotten older, I just made the transition. I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do riding bulls. I still get on bulls now, but I pick the ones I want to get on.”

At 41 years old, getting on the right bulls might just be Tipton’s best decision, though jumping off horses and wrestling 500-pound steers to the ground isn’t exactly easy on the body. He also is on the smaller size of the bulldogging list – most bull riders are about 5-foot-5, 135 pounds, while steer wrestlers tend to be much bigger.

That’s a perfect fit for Fields, a three-time IPRA champion (2000-2002) who also qualified for the NFR three times in the mid-2000s. Since then, he’s qualified for the IFR three times, 2009, 2014-15.

Danell Tipton won the 1995 IPRA bull riding world title but has qualified for the IFR each of the past two seasons in steer wrestling. (AMANDA RUTHERFORD PHOTO)

Danell Tipton won the 1995 IPRA bull riding world title but has qualified for the IFR each of the past two seasons in steer wrestling. (AMANDA RUTHERFORD PHOTO)

“I work in the oil field in Oklahoma,” said Fields, 6-foot, 235 pounds. “The enjoyment of actually being at home has been kind of irreplaceable. Until a couple years ago, I rodeoed full time. I still love to rodeo. With me working, I can still go to the IPRA rodeos, going on the weekends, then go home.

“I can still get the feel of the addiction that I have, but I can work. It makes me feel good. It’s hard to think about going back to rodeoing full time. I get to experience the things with my family, the things I missed when I was gone all the time.”

It’s like living the best of both worlds for Fields, who will begin the IFR competition 10th in the standings with nearly $7,000 in earnings. He is one spot ahead of Tipton, a cowboy with whom he has had a friendship since they were youngsters.

“The IFR is good,” said Fields, 41. “I don’t get to practice as much as I’m used to, but I’m still able to compete and try to qualify. I’m not as sharp as I used to be. I’ve been able to go to enough rodeos and compete well enough.”

That’ll help when the first round begins next Friday featuring a large purse that is aided through sponsor relationships with Love’s Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener’s, Graham’s, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston’s, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing.

The biggest difference between Fields’ run a decade ago is in the time he spends on the rodeo trail.

“That was my job then, and now I have a job, so rodeo is a back seat to that,” he said. “I would rodeo for a living, which is what I’ve done up until now. There was a lot of pressure a guy takes on. I was fortunate that I didn’t have kids. It was a gamble I could afford to take.

“I still plan to go, but I have a job that helps me. It’s a comfort zone.”

Even though he’s ridden bulls for decades, Tipton’s comfort zone comes on horseback, which has been beneficial. He rode several horses through the season in order to earn the trip to the IFR.

“I’m just a cowboy,” he said. “You can put me on anything. This is nothing I’ve just jumped off into at my older age. I was horseback since I was born.”

Now he’ll show off his cowboy skills inside Jim Norick Arena. He’s been successful there before.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Worth the wait

Thu, 01/08/2015 - 13:53
Fallon Taylor ran Babyflo to the 2015 world championship. (PRCA PHOTO BY MIKE COPEMAN)

Fallon Taylor ran Babyflo to the 2015 world championship. (PRCA PHOTO BY MIKE COPEMAN)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a story I wrote for the January issue of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official magazine of the WPRA.

For 10 nights, it seemed, Fallon Taylor exited the Thomas & Mack Center arena with a smile on her face as she and Babyflo sprinted past the famous yellow chutes.

Even more vibrant on Dec. 13, the smile revealed so much as Taylor held tightly to the Montana Silversmiths gold buckle:
– It was a dream come true
– It was a validation
– It was a showcase for Babyflo

Most importantly, the 2014 WPRA world championship was a triumphant comeback from what could have been the most devastating time of Taylor’s life.

Broken but not shattered

Fallon Taylor

Fallon Taylor

One question stopped the smiles for a few moments. It was meant as a reflection, a chance to remember that time five and a half years ago when Fallon Taylor was unsure of everything that was going on in her life.

While training a horse, things got wild. The horse reared and slammed into her, then she was thrown. In all, she suffered broken bones on the right side of her face, including her eye socket, as well a fractured skull in four places and a broken C-2 vertebra.

Because of that spinal injury, doctors said she had just a 2 percent chance to walk or talk again. Just thinking about that time is emotional for all involved. To do it while staring firmly at the gold buckle allowed the tears to flow, just as she needed.

“It’s amazing,” she said, tears dripping off her cheeks as she continued to speak. “I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk. To be paralyzed, then to come from that to here …

“It’s not about me. There (are) people at home that just want to lose 20 pounds or people that are clocking in the 5D or 4D in barrel racing that just want to be better. Hopefully I offer them some encouragement.”

She did, through every autograph, every appearance and every sprint toward the alley inside the Thomas & Mack Center before nearly 18,000 screaming fans. That’s a feeling she always will cherish.

“I feel like I’m going to climb over my horse’s head and outrun her to get out,” she said, laughing again.

A horse of course

Fallon Taylor left the hospital a few days after arriving, defying the odds and walking out. She went back to the ranch in Whitesboro, Texas, where she wore a halo brace for another year.

For those unfamiliar with the halo, it’s a virtual barbaric device to help maintain the neck’s stability. Bolts were screwed into Taylor’s skull, and long arms connect the head brace to a stabilizer on her shoulders and around her torso.

She wore that for a year. She also started connecting with a filly, Flos Heiress, a horse she calls Babyflo that was sired by Dr Nick Bar out of Flowers and Money, two horses that carried Taylor to her first four Wrangler NFR qualifications from 1995-98. When she could start riding again, she broke, trained and rode Babyflo to the 2014 world title.

“Every one of us has a different routine how we take care of our horses,” Taylor said. “I have a whole team with me, and it takes a village.

“Babyflo is really quirky; she’s particular. We try to make a home everywhere we go. We try to rebuild our barn atmosphere at every single place we go.”

That meant even at the Wrangler NFR. Now 8 years old, the sorrel mare is a racehorse for the ages.

“We just try to keep our routine,” she said. “I have a horse you can’t give any medication to and can’t have a chiropractor adjust her, and you can’t really do a lot of things to her. We have to preserve her at the best level we possibly can to get 10 runs.

“She’s like the Terminator. She’s just rugged. She had a lot of slips here and gets up and keeps going. She’s made for this.”

Through 10 December nights in the City of Lights, Babyflo was stronger than most. Taylor began the first round of the 2014 Wrangler NFR No. 2 in the world standings, nearly $24,000 behind leader Kaley Bass.

She passed Bass by placing in eight go-rounds and edged reserve world champion Lisa Lockhart by about $11,000 … all on Babyflo.

“We are the staff of Babyflo; we work for Babyflo,” Taylor said. “I love that we get all this attention, but we work for her.”

Now the star and her understudy get a little rest before they embark on the serious side of the 2015 season. As of Dec. 18, Taylor had earned more than $7,000 toward the 2015 WPRA World Standings, so a break was in order.

“We’re going to probably pull some shoes off and let her be barefoot and graze a little bit,” she said. “We’re a lot alike. We don’t like idle hands. We don’t sit still for very long.

“Babyflo thinks she’s done something wrong if she’s not in the limelight.”

That’s a good thing. They don’t spend much time in the practice pen. In fact, Taylor said, the tandem made it around the barrel pattern just three times prior to running in Las Vegas.

“Babyflo is one of the most intelligent animals I’ve ever been around,” she said. “She doesn’t need any schooling. She doesn’t need a refresher course.”

No. She’s a champion, and she knows it. So does Taylor.

A true horserace

Fallon Taylor and Babyflo knew it was going to be a horserace. They won the first go-round in what seemed like a skid-fest at 14.09 seconds. The next night was even slower, when Babyflo slipped and tipped a barrel; the winning time was 14.29 … an eternity in the Thomas and Mack.

But the needed ground-change happened, and times reflected it.

“Everybody that tried really hard – the president of the WPRA and all the WPRA women who stepped in – tried to make this the very best National Finals they could,” Taylor said. “The ground changed a lot from last year, and they did everything they possibly could to have our equine athletes’ best interests in mind, and it showed.

“It got progressively better to make this actually a horserace.”

It was. Lockhart, of Oelrichs, S.D., claimed to the average title, rounding the cloverleaf pattern in a 10-round cumulative time of 144.93 seconds, bettering Taylor by less than two-tenths. Lockhart’s only slip came in the sixth round, when she and An Okie With Cash tipped a barrel.

That average title was the only honor Lockhart held over Taylor and Babyflo.

“We’ve made 10 amazing runs,” Taylor said. “My mare’s run sub 14-second runs every single time she’s made a decent runs and didn’t trip. The horses are tired. We’re tired. I just gave it everything I had. I wasn’t overly concerned with the statistics. I figured it would all come out in the wash.”

Before the final go-round on Dec. 13, Taylor posted on her Facebook page that by the time the evening ended, she would know if she was “pretty good, really good or damn good.”

“I’m damn good; I’ve got the buckle, and it says ‘damn good’ across it,” she said, smiling that brilliant grin. “I’m so excited. To be penned against Lisa Lockhart, who is the queen of consistency, and Louie, who is amazing, and to have a mare that had probably one of the worst finals in history for a barrel racer last year … to come back and win the world title against Lisa Lockhart when I had to beat her against her game … ”

It must’ve been awesome. Of course, it was primarily a two-horse race through much of the Wrangler NFR. Taylor won just shy of $145,000 in Las Vegas, while Lockhart was about $1,000 behind in Sin City earnings. Behind them were the top barrel racers from the 2014 season, all those that earned the right to be there.

“There’s no easy horserace,” Taylor said. “I’ve never been to an easy rodeo in my life, and this was no exception. The fact that it came down to pennies and dollars was great TV for the fans, made for edge-of-your-seat entertainment. I’m all about that. I think it’s a fantastic thing for rodeo to push it into the limelight.

“It was exciting to do, so it had to be exciting to watch. I’m excited that this caliber of women came in, and they gave us hell. We had to fight for this one. There is no easy world title, no easy average win and no easy rodeo.”

A quick look back

Doctors once told Fallon Taylor the chances were slim she’d ever walk again, maybe talk again.

She beat the odds. That’s what Las Vegas is all about, isn’t it?

The 2014 Wrangler NFR marked the sixth time in her storied career that Taylor has qualified for ProRodeo’s grand championship. She was just 13 when she first played in the Nevada desert in 1995. She followed with more trips in 1996-98, then stepped away from the barrel racing scene for a decade.

It was 15 years between Wrangler NFR qualifications. When she returned to Las Vegas in 2013, she and Babyflo struggled. They made up for it this past December.

“The fans … that’s the coolest part of that,” Taylor said. “I had an appearance at noon (Saturday), and I got a call from my assistant at 10:30 that showed a picture of people lined up around the corner.

“This is a cool responsibility. This is cool that the next generation of barrel racers can connect to me. Hopefully I can inspire them to be right here holding the buckle. In the next phase of my life, I want to be in the front row of the South Point cheering them on.”

That attitude has become infectious in barrel racing. It has reached thousands of fans and cycled through the bloodstreams of hundreds of rising stars. If Fallon Taylor can overcome paralysis to win a world championship, anything can happen.

Anything will happen.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

’16 Little Britches Finals moves to Lazy E Arena

Wed, 01/07/2015 - 17:56

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The National Little Britches Rodeo Association Finals is moving to the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla., beginning in 2016.

“We are extremely proud to be selected as the host facility for the NLBRA Finals and look forward to growing our partnership,” said Dan Wall, general manager of Lazy E Arena. “We are excited to welcome NLBRA and its members into the Lazy E family.”

LittleBritches-LogoThe change in venues comes after an 11-year run at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo, Colo. The NLBRA found a home in Pueblo beginning in 2004 and brought 545 youth rodeo contestants that year. Since the inaugural year, the event has grown to nearly double the contestant base, with nearly 1,000 youth rodeo contestants competing in 2014.

“Moving the NLBRA Finals to Pueblo was a positive for the NLBRA,” executive director Kimber Solberg said. “The Pueblo community provided an opportunity for the NLBRA to produce a quality Finals for many years; however, since moving to Pueblo in 2004, the NLBRA contestant membership base has grown by 33 percent and some of our needs have changed.”

The 2015 NLBRA Finals will be July 20-25, 2015, in Pueblo. It will move to the Lazy E from 2016-2020

Although the National Little Britches Finals Rodeo is relocating, the NLBRA is working with Pueblo and four other communities across the United States to host NLBRA Qualifier Rodeos, where the goal is to have 300-400 contestants competing in a three-day rodeo event.

“Over the years, we’ve built a strong bond with Pueblo,” Solberg said. “I can only compare it to a child going off to college. It’s hard to let them go, but you know it’s the best move. And like kids going off to college, you don’t lose them, the relationship just changes. The NLBRA certainly intends to keep Little Britches Rodeo alive and well in Pueblo, Colorado.”

The Lazy E Arena opened its doors in December 1984 in time for that season’s National Finals Steer Roping to coincide with the National Finals Rodeo, which took place in downtown Oklahoma City. The grand plan orchestrated by then owner E.K. Gaylord III was that the two Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association championships take place at the same time in the same metropolitan area, and the plan worked … for one year.

Since its inception, the building has hosted world champions, world championships and personalities galore. The main arena floor is 440 feet-by-160 feet, making it the largest indoor rodeo arena in the world and home of the Timed Event Championship.

“This is the only indoor arena that allows us, the NLBRA, to produce our finals with three arenas running simultaneously for the viewing audience,” Solberg said.

In October 2013, the property was purchased by the McKinney Family from Midland, Texas. The Family has committed to maintaining the Lazy E as the world’s premier Western entertainment facility. Many updates and renovations are taking place at the arena, which will only enhance the lure of the Lazy E.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Johnson returns to elite status

Tue, 01/06/2015 - 11:45
Tie-down roper Trenton Johnson ropes during a recent competition in Atlantic City, N.J. Johnson has qualified for the International Finals Rodeo for the third time in his career. (CASEY MARTIN PHOTO)

Tie-down roper Trenton Johnson ropes during a recent competition in Atlantic City, N.J. Johnson has qualified for the International Finals Rodeo for the third time in his career. (CASEY MARTIN PHOTO)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Eleven months ago, tie-down roper Trenton Johnson was just getting out of hip surgery that saw him on crutches for eight weeks.

He spent four months going through physical therapy for a repaired hip labrum and a hip microfracture, then he handled the rehabilitation himself while taking care of the business of healing his body. Being on the sidelines because of injury is no place for a world-class athlete to be, but that’s just where Johnson was through much of the 2015 rodeo season.

“I rehabbed on my own for a little while, then I went to three rodeos after the Fourth of July,” said Johnson, 26, a three-time International Finals Rodeo from Centerville, Kan. “Then I got hurt again, so I took two more weeks off.”

He returned to action the final weekend of July and spent next seven weeks on a frantic travel schedule in hopes of returning to the International Professional Rodeo Association’s championship event. It all comes to fruition next week during IFR 45, set for Friday, Jan. 16-Sunday, Jan. 18, at Jim Norick State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

“I went pretty hard and was able to accomplish that,” said Johnson, who won tie-down roping titles in Kellyville, Okla.; Haskell, Okla.; Freemont, Ohio; North Washington, Pa.; Charlotte, Mich.; and St. Tite, Quebec, the last of which is the largest regular-season event in the IPRA. “It was good to do good at St. Tite. Without that, I don’t think I could’ve made the IFR.”

That two-month run paid off to the tune of more than $8,600. He rolls into Oklahoma City as the No. 12 tie-down roper in the standings – only the top 15 contestants in each event earn the right to compete at the IFR. He’s had considerable success inside State Fair Arena before, winning the average title during the 2011 championship.

“I’d have to say winning the average at the IFR was my biggest accomplishment so far,” he said. “It was a big roping, a good roping. There were a lot of guys there that roped good. I still wear that buckle today. It was a big win for me, and I’m proud of it.”

He should be. It’s an amazing honor and one he’d like to repeat during this year’s finale. In order to win that title, he’ll have to rope and tie all four calves in a faster cumulative time than the other 14 ropers in the field. That fits perfectly in Johnson’s wheelhouse.

“I’m more of an average roper,” he said. “I’m more consistent than trying to go fast. I try to be a well-rounded roper, but I do feel more comfortable making an average run.”

That’s something he’s learned over the years of roping. Raised on a ranch in eastern Kansas, he is one of two sons born to Jim and Pam Johnson. He and older brother Tyler began roping as youngsters.

“Dad brought home a couple of roping horses,” Trenton Johnson said. “He built us an arena, and we started team roping.”

He also started roping calves with a breakaway rope until he got into junior high. Upon turning 14, he started roping and tying down calves. He started putting in the work to be successful as a sophomore in high school, working with neighbor Wade Wilson and Wilson’s son, Cole.

“My dad raised cows for as long as I can remember,” said Johnson, who has a sponsorship agreement with Pretty Western Clothing Botique. “He roped a little bit, mostly for fun, and gave my brother and me an opportunity to rodeo. Along the way, I met a lot of people who helped us, and that includes Wade Wilson.”

The Johnson brothers learned a lot roping with the Wilsons. He won the tie-down roping and team roping championships in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association in 2007. That helped Trenton Johnson earn a rodeo scholarship to Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, where he qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in both tie-down roping and steer wrestling in 2009 and 2011.

He’s found success in every area of rodeo in which he’s competed, including the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He aspires to qualify for the PRCA championship, the National Finals Rodeo, and battle for that organization’s world championship.

Of course, it’s the mettle of any true competitor to place themselves among the greatest in the game. It helps to surround oneself with greatness, which is something else Johnson has done most of his life. This past October, he married the former Ayla McCoy, whose uncles, Jet and Cord, own a combined 10 IPRA world championships.

“She comes from a strong rodeo family, and we met at Northwestern,” said Johnson, who began dating his wife in 2009. “She now works for Miller International, which is Cinch.”

Together, they bring a strong pedigree to Oklahoma City for the IFR. They’ll also bring Boone, an 11-year-old sorrel gelding.

“I’ve had him since 2011,” he said. “He’s consistent. He’s a powerful horse. He does everything good, and he’s honest. He understands roping, and he likes his job.”

So does Trenton Johnson. That’s why he’s chasing his gold-buckle dreams.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

The silver anniversary

Sun, 01/04/2015 - 17:00

IFR TO CELEBRATE 25 YEARS AS AN OKLAHOMA CITY INSTITUTION

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s capital city is much different than it was in January 1991.

There’s an NBA franchise in town, and the 89ers became the RedHawks and are now the Dodgers. Gary Gibbs was in his third season as coach of the Sooners football team, Eddie Sutton was running the Oklahoma State basketball program and Bryant Reeves was a senior at Gans (Okla.) High School.

IFR2014LogoRedDateThe downtown landscape has changed dramatically, rising into the heavens. But one thing has remained constant: The International Finals Rodeo is a January staple, now in its 25th year in Oklahoma City. IFR 45 is scheduled for Jan. 16-18 at the Jim Norick State Fair Arena.

“I actually didn’t qualify for the IFR the last two years in Tulsa,” said Dale Yerigan, general manager of the Oklahoma City-based International Professional Rodeo Association and an 11-time steer wrestling world champion. “When I found out that the IFR was moving to Oklahoma City and that the money was going to increase, that’s one of the things that helped me make the decision to focus on rodeoing in the IPRA.”

Dale Yerigan

Dale Yerigan

It’s a good thing he did. Yerigan won IPRA gold in 1985-86, then regained that championship form in Oklahoma City. Clarence LeBlanc won the 1990 championship at the conclusion of IFR 21 in January 1991, and Yerigan took over the IPRA’s bulldogging world for nine straight years after that, winning the titles for the 1991-1999 seasons – because the IFR is in January, champions care crowned for the previous calendar year; the 2014 champs, for example, will be crowned in a few weeks.

“In the 1990s, I had a streak of winning world titles, and a lot of that was because of the move to Oklahoma City,” he said. “The future was one of the things that helped me make my decision and my focus. It was easier on my family to rodeo together.”

As the IPRA general manager, he shares his time through the weeks between business at the office and his home in Pryor, Okla., which is about 155 miles northeast of the IPRA office.

The 1991 IFR took place in what used to be the Myriad, now the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. It moved to Jim Norick Arena shortly thereafter and has had a long run in that storied facility at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. In 2004, the IFR took place inside the Ford Center, which is now Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“The move back downtown to the Ford Center was sponsor-driven, but it was a new facility, and you hope it sparks some new interest in your event,” Yerigan said. “Now they host an NBA franchise, which is no small fete in mid-America.

“We’re glad to be back at the fairgrounds, and I believe it’s the best facility for us. We want to grow there.”

Growth has been steady, and it comes with the help of key sponsors like Love’s Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener’s, Graham’s, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston’s, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing. Of course, it also helps that fans have come to expect a strong production from the annual January showcase.

“Like most of rodeo, we’ve changed some over the years,” Yerigan said. “The competition part of it is still based on the same things it was founded on, which goes back to ranch competitions. We preserve that really traditional part of it. Us, along with most rodeos, have tried to update with the times with the kind of music and the lights we use.

“Rodeo’s a little bit louder than it was 25 years ago, but people have come to expect that. We try not to go too overboard. We try not to make it a rock concert but try to step it up and liven it up. Production has become faster, and we want to see things quickly.”

At the IFR, the competition is mixed with excellent production to make for a night of family-friendly entertainment.

“We have whittled this down to the top 15 that come compete,” he said. “You get to see the same 15 compete every performance for four performances. Whether it’s Friday night or Sunday afternoon, you get to see the top level of competition.

“When you come to the IFR, the cream will rise to the top. The 15 contestants in each event have earned their way to be there. You’re going to see the top level competition.”

It’s something fans have come to expect over the last 25 years. It’s just as it should be.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Be blessed in 2015

Wed, 12/31/2014 - 15:19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Twisted Rodeo
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