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GUTHRIE, Okla. ‚Äď After a decade away, the Oklahoma Cattlemen‚Äôs Association‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúWe are excited about the possibilities that this move will offer,‚ÄĚ said Tim Drummond, the OCA Range Round-Up chairman. ‚ÄúThe 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.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúThe competition is fierce, but the cowboys don‚Äôt take home much more than bumps and bragging rights when it‚Äôs all said and done,‚ÄĚ Drummond said with a grin. ‚ÄúKnowing that we are raising money to help sick children get well is an incentive and makes competing worth the while.‚ÄĚ
About OCA: The Oklahoma Cattlemen‚Äôs 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.
OKLAHOMA BRONC BUSTER WINS TIGHT RACY BY SHARING FINAL-ROUND TITLE
OKLAHOMA CITY ‚Äď Sean Prater and Shawn Minor have been locked in a dogfight for the International Professional Rodeo Association‚Äôs 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‚Äôs Little Eddie to put the pressure on Minor, the final bronc rider of the afternoon. When Minor bucked off Southern‚Äôs Big Jill, Prater gathered his third gold buckle, matching the titles he earned in the 2008 and 2012 seasons.
‚ÄúI didn‚Äôt even start off my year to win a world championship,‚ÄĚ said Prater of Muskogee, Okla. ‚ÄúI 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.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúI 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,‚ÄĚ said Prater, an 11-time qualifier who first qualified for the IFR at 15 years of age. ‚ÄúIt still gives me a chance to qualify for a good finals in the wintertime.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs hard for me to be in that position, because I don‚Äôt go to as many rodeos,‚ÄĚ 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.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt know if I‚Äôve ever had a bad year,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúSome are just better than others.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúI love to ride good horses, and I have a passion for the association,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúMy family‚Äôs been part of it for a long time. The IPRA‚Äôs been good to me and my family for a lot of years.‚ÄĚ
Prater owns the gold buckles to prove it.
International Finals Rodeo
Jim Norick State Fair Arena
Jan. 18, 2015
All-around champion: Shawn Minor, Camden, Ohio, $68,204
Bareback riding: 1. Shawn Minor, 81 points on Three Bar J Rodeo‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs Fast‚ÄôN 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.
3-TIME CHAMP WINS THIRD STRAIGHT ROUND AT HOMETOWN EVENT
OKLAHOMA CITY ‚Äď 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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been fortunate at every finals I‚Äôve ever been to,‚ÄĚ said Fields, 41. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve never won three rows in a round like this, but I cannot give enough glory to my horse.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúAll the credit goes to God and to that horse,‚ÄĚ Fields said. ‚ÄúI thank god for letting me have a horse of that caliber and him staying healthy and performing on a daily basis like he does.‚ÄĚ
The Oklahoma cowboy spends most of his time working in the oil industry but still enjoys the rodeo trail on a part-time basis.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt get to practice as much as I used to,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúMy practice is more mental. Maybe I should have gone to that sooner, but I‚Äôm just thankful I‚Äôm healthy.‚ÄĚ
Of course, he hasn‚Äôt 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‚Äôs run.
‚ÄúI couldn‚Äôt believe that steer stopped the way he did, because he didn‚Äôt stop the two times before,‚ÄĚ Fields said. ‚ÄúHe popped up and hit me in the chin and my lip.‚ÄĚ
He will recover just fine for Sunday‚Äôs final go-round of the IFR, which is sponsored by Love‚Äôs Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener‚Äôs, Graham‚Äôs, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston‚Äôs, Cattlemen‚Äôs Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing. He‚Äôd love to win another round, but the average championship is also on his mind.
‚ÄúYou just take the runs the best you can and make the best of it,‚ÄĚ he said.
International Finals Rodeo
Jim Norick State Fair Arena
Jan. 16, 2015
Bareback riding: 1. Trey Moore, 81.75 points on 5M Rodeo‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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.
17-YEAR-OLD CHAMP WINS SECOND ROUND AT IFR 45
OKLAHOMA CITY ‚Äď Four months shy of his 18th birthday, Garrett Tribble of Bristow, Okla., is already a world champion bull rider.
‚ÄúI couldn‚Äôt ask for a better year,‚ÄĚ said Tribble, who has earned more than $39,500 this season in the International Professional Rodeo Association. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been outstanding.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúI knew that was a great bull,‚ÄĚ said Tribble, a senior at Bristow High School who is wrapping up his rookie campaign in the IPRA. ‚ÄúI knew what I had to do, and that was hustling. It felt like he had me beat the whole ride, but it worked out.‚ÄĚ
Yes, it did. It‚Äôs just another feather in the cap to a cowboy that started his career at age 6 riding sheep and advanced through the ranks ‚Äď steer riding, junior bulls and full size bulls, the latter of which he began just a year ago. Now he‚Äôs competing at the IFR, which is sponsored by Love‚Äôs Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener‚Äôs, Graham‚Äôs, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston‚Äôs, Cattlemen‚Äôs Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing.
‚ÄúI just watch videos and practice on barrels,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt hardly get on any practice bulls; it‚Äôs all mental really. If you psyche yourself out before you get on them, you‚Äôre not going to do any good.
‚ÄúThis is what I‚Äôve wanted to do forever. Everybody just pushed me to be the best, so that‚Äôs what I‚Äôm trying to do.‚ÄĚ
He‚Äôs definitely off to the right start.
International Finals Rodeo
Jim Norick State Fair Arena
Jan. 16, 2015
Bareback riding: 1. Joshua Michael Creger, 79.5 points on Latting Rodeo‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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.
SECOND-GENERATION BAREBACK RIDER SPUR LACASSE WINS FIRST ROUND OF IFR 45
OKLAHOMA CITY ‚Äď 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‚Äôs opening round of International Finals Rodeo 45, spurring Hampton Rodeo‚Äôs Black Water for 79.75 points, collecting $1,792 in the process.
That‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúSince I was a kid, I‚Äôve loved rodeo more than anything,‚ÄĚ the younger Lacasse said. ‚ÄúWhen 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.‚ÄĚ
It worked. He‚Äôs found great success already, earning his inaugural IFR qualification by finding success at the International Professional Rodeo Association‚Äôs Canadian Finals in May, where he finished second, and winning the title at St. Tite, Quebec, the IPRA‚Äôs largest regular-season rodeo.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs what got me here,‚ÄĚ Lacasse said, who rode the snappy bucking horse with the classic spur stroke to claim the first-round title. ‚ÄúAny 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.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs 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‚Äôll 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.
‚ÄúI actually love traveling, getting to see things a lot of people don‚Äôt get to see,‚ÄĚ Lacasse said. ‚ÄúTo me, it‚Äôs the best way of living. We do it for the adrenaline rush, but it‚Äôs also a lifestyle.‚ÄĚ
International Finals Rodeo
Jim Norick State Fair Arena
Jan. 16, 2015
Bareback riding: 1. Spur Lacasse, 79.75 points on Hampton Rodeo‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs Shake & Bake, $2,688; 2. A.J. Vaal, 74, $1,7,92; no other qualified rides.
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.
DUNCAN, Okla. ‚Äď 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.
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.
He finished the season with more than $318,000. But he wasn‚Äôt 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.
Irwin ‚Äď a Robertsdale, Ala., bulldogger who attended Western Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships ‚Äď 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.
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‚Äôt 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.
‚ÄúI am so proud to be the first Miss Rodeo Oklahoma to win the title,‚ÄĚ said Heaton, who was part of the pageantry at the circuit finals. ‚ÄúI 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‚Äôs how I‚Äôve created how much I am today.‚ÄĚ
She was joined at the national pageant by Miss Rodeo Kansas Katera Harter and Miss Rodeo Nebraska Gina Jespersen.
‚ÄúThe Prairie Circuit was represented really well, with all three being in the top 10,‚ÄĚ Heaton said of the Miss Rodeo America pageant. ‚ÄúI think that helps put the Prairie Circuit on the map.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúThis has definitely been a great year for the Prairie Circuit,‚ÄĚ Heaton said.
CHAMPIONSHIP HOLDS A SPECIAL PLACE IN THE HEARTS OF SOONER STATE CONTESTANTS
OKLAHOMA CITY ‚Äď Middle America is the perfect home for the International Finals Rodeo.
‚ÄúThere are a lot of people in the state of Oklahoma that still love rodeo,‚ÄĚ said Fields, a three-time International Professional Rodeo Association world champion steer wrestler from Oklahoma City. ‚ÄúThis has a great history. Rodeo has lasted in Oklahoma, and it‚Äôs going to last. That‚Äôs the IPRA‚Äôs foundation.
‚ÄúPeople have learned that this is what they have.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs 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‚Äôs deserving of a world championship.
‚ÄúWhen I bought this IPRA card ready to compete, it got pretty serious,‚ÄĚ said Danell Tipton, the 1995 IPRA world champion bull rider who has qualified for the IFR in steer wrestling in 2014-15. ‚ÄúIf I‚Äôm in the top 15 and have a shot to make the finals in my back yard, then I‚Äôm going to go after it by any means necessary.‚ÄĚ
Tipton is from Spencer, Okla., a town of about 4,000 people just east of Oklahoma City. It‚Äôs where the 41-year-old grew to become a cowboy.
‚ÄúHaving the IFR in Oklahoma City means a lot to me,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been right at my back door and has been for years. I‚Äôve always showed up here, and I‚Äôve always performed outstanding when there was a rodeo in Oklahoma City.
‚ÄúThe IFR is where I grew up. I was raised in the IPRA.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôt start wrestling steers until 1997, then earned his first gold buckle three years later.
‚ÄúThe great thing about the going to the IPRA rodeos is I‚Äôve got to go back and see a lot of guys I hadn‚Äôt seen in a long time,‚ÄĚ Fields said. ‚ÄúAt the end of the day, it‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúFor all those people that support you all year long, this is their chance to see you perform.‚ÄĚ
That family atmosphere is also a reason why the IPRA is popular among contestants. It‚Äôs also popular for businesses that support the IFR through sponsorships: Love‚Äôs Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener‚Äôs, Graham‚Äôs, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston‚Äôs, Cattlemen‚Äôs Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing.
‚ÄúThe IPRA has been around for years, and it‚Äôs a strong family tradition,‚ÄĚ Tipton said. ‚ÄúFamily is a tradition. Family is important to the association. I like that.‚ÄĚ
COWBOYS, COWGIRLS HOPE TO ROPE IN CASH DURING IFR45
OKLAHOMA CITY ‚Äď Walt White owns eight International Professional Rodeo Association tie-down roping world championships.
He won‚Äôt 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.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm just going to have fun and try to win as much money as I can,‚ÄĚ said White, 43, of Ochelata, Okla., the 15th ranked tie-down roper. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to try to go out with a bang. I haven‚Äôt 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.‚ÄĚ
White figures this will be his last appearance at the IFR. He‚Äôs made more than a dozen trips to Oklahoma City for the championship over the years, winning gold buckles in 1992, ‚Äô93, ‚Äô95, ‚Äô97-2000 and ‚Äô03.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to be the oldest one there this year,‚ÄĚ White said of the tie-down roping field of 15 contestants. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs time to slow down. Except for the All-Region Finals (in Lexington, Ky.), Marshfield (Mo.) is the furthest one I went to. I didn‚Äôt go more than four hours from the house.‚ÄĚ
While White is slowing down, Chance Hays is just getting started. This week marks his second qualification to the IFR ‚Äď he also earned the trip in tie-down roping two seasons ago ‚Äď and sits 13th in the world standings.
‚ÄúIt means a lot for me to make the IFR,‚ÄĚ said Hays, a Bristow, Okla., cowboy who also makes his living as a Western artist. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm from Oklahoma, and having the finals in Oklahoma City and getting to compete against other talent from all over is an honor.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúMy goal is to make the best runs I can make and see how much I can win,‚ÄĚ Hays said. ‚ÄúI got a real late start this year. I‚Äôm riding a young horse this year, but next year I‚Äôll have my good horse back, and I‚Äôm going to try to win the world championship.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener‚Äôs, Graham‚Äôs, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston‚Äôs, Cattlemen‚Äôs Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing.
‚ÄúI think it‚Äôs really exciting that they‚Äôve added breakaway roping,‚ÄĚ said Hays, who is an assistant coach for the Southwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team in her hometown of Weatherford. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs something that all the breakaway ropers really look forward to, to have an association like that to put breakaway roping in their finals.‚ÄĚ
This marks the third time in four years she has qualified for the IFR.
‚ÄúWhen the season starts, my goal is to make the IFR,‚ÄĚ Hays said. ‚ÄúThe 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‚Äôm more focused on being consistent. I won a round and the average in my first qualification.
‚ÄúJust being consistent is the key. I just try to rope every calf the same. It doesn‚Äôt matter if he‚Äôs fast or slow; you just have to do the same things every run to have success.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôve earned the right to be in Oklahoma City this week, and now they want to show everyone why.
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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúHe was just an inspiration as a person,‚ÄĚ 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.
‚ÄúI 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,‚ÄĚ he said.
Hays wants to put together a painting he‚Äôll refer to as ‚ÄúGold Buckle.‚ÄĚ He made need to find the right colors to make it sparkle, but he‚Äôs got the right brush strokes and passion to make it happen.
TOP BULLDOGGERS RACE FOR TITLE; OKLAHOMA COWBOYS RETURN TO GLORY DAYS
OKLAHOMA CITY ‚Äď In all likelihood, the race for the International Professional Rodeo Association‚Äôs 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.
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‚Äôt the only world champ in the steer wrestling field. In fact, he‚Äôll 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 ‚Ä¶ in bull riding.
Next week marks the second straight steer wrestling qualification for Tipton, who won the 1995 bull riding world championship.
‚ÄúWhat a lot of people don‚Äôt realize is that I‚Äôve been bulldogging for a while, since the early 1990s,‚ÄĚ said Tipton, who also qualified for the National Finals Rodeo twice. ‚ÄúIn 1993 and ‚Äô94, I started bulldogging a lot. I was entering rodeos in bulldogging then, but bull riding was more important than anything.
‚ÄúAs I‚Äôve gotten older, I just made the transition. I‚Äôve done everything I‚Äôve wanted to do riding bulls. I still get on bulls now, but I pick the ones I want to get on.‚ÄĚ
At 41 years old, getting on the right bulls might just be Tipton‚Äôs best decision, though jumping off horses and wrestling 500-pound steers to the ground isn‚Äôt exactly easy on the body. He also is on the smaller size of the bulldogging list ‚Äď most bull riders are about 5-foot-5, 135 pounds, while steer wrestlers tend to be much bigger.
That‚Äôs 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‚Äôs qualified for the IFR three times, 2009, 2014-15.
‚ÄúI work in the oil field in Oklahoma,‚ÄĚ said Fields, 6-foot, 235 pounds. ‚ÄúThe 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.
‚ÄúI can still get the feel of the addiction that I have, but I can work. It makes me feel good. It‚Äôs 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.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúThe IFR is good,‚ÄĚ said Fields, 41. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt get to practice as much as I‚Äôm used to, but I‚Äôm still able to compete and try to qualify. I‚Äôm not as sharp as I used to be. I‚Äôve been able to go to enough rodeos and compete well enough.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôll help when the first round begins next Friday featuring a large purse that is aided through sponsor relationships with Love‚Äôs Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener‚Äôs, Graham‚Äôs, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston‚Äôs, Cattlemen‚Äôs Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing.
The biggest difference between Fields‚Äô run a decade ago is in the time he spends on the rodeo trail.
‚ÄúThat was my job then, and now I have a job, so rodeo is a back seat to that,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI would rodeo for a living, which is what I‚Äôve done up until now. There was a lot of pressure a guy takes on. I was fortunate that I didn‚Äôt have kids. It was a gamble I could afford to take.
‚ÄúI still plan to go, but I have a job that helps me. It‚Äôs a comfort zone.‚ÄĚ
Even though he‚Äôs ridden bulls for decades, Tipton‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm just a cowboy,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúYou can put me on anything. This is nothing I‚Äôve just jumped off into at my older age. I was horseback since I was born.‚ÄĚ
Now he‚Äôll show off his cowboy skills inside Jim Norick Arena. He‚Äôs been successful there before.
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:
‚Äď It was a dream come true
‚Äď It was a validation
‚Äď 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‚Äôs life.
Broken but not shattered
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.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs amazing,‚ÄĚ she said, tears dripping off her cheeks as she continued to speak. ‚ÄúI couldn‚Äôt walk. I couldn‚Äôt talk. To be paralyzed, then to come from that to here ‚Ä¶
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs 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.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs a feeling she always will cherish.
‚ÄúI feel like I‚Äôm going to climb over my horse‚Äôs head and outrun her to get out,‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs a virtual barbaric device to help maintain the neck‚Äôs stability. Bolts were screwed into Taylor‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúEvery one of us has a different routine how we take care of our horses,‚ÄĚ Taylor said. ‚ÄúI have a whole team with me, and it takes a village.
‚ÄúBabyflo is really quirky; she‚Äôs particular. We try to make a home everywhere we go. We try to rebuild our barn atmosphere at every single place we go.‚ÄĚ
That meant even at the Wrangler NFR. Now 8 years old, the sorrel mare is a racehorse for the ages.
‚ÄúWe just try to keep our routine,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI have a horse you can‚Äôt give any medication to and can‚Äôt have a chiropractor adjust her, and you can‚Äôt really do a lot of things to her. We have to preserve her at the best level we possibly can to get 10 runs.
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs like the Terminator. She‚Äôs just rugged. She had a lot of slips here and gets up and keeps going. She‚Äôs made for this.‚ÄĚ
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 ‚Ä¶ all on Babyflo.
‚ÄúWe are the staff of Babyflo; we work for Babyflo,‚ÄĚ Taylor said. ‚ÄúI love that we get all this attention, but we work for her.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going to probably pull some shoes off and let her be barefoot and graze a little bit,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre a lot alike. We don‚Äôt like idle hands. We don‚Äôt sit still for very long.
‚ÄúBabyflo thinks she‚Äôs done something wrong if she‚Äôs not in the limelight.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs a good thing. They don‚Äôt 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.
‚ÄúBabyflo is one of the most intelligent animals I‚Äôve ever been around,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúShe doesn‚Äôt need any schooling. She doesn‚Äôt need a refresher course.‚ÄĚ
No. She‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúEverybody that tried really hard ‚Äď the president of the WPRA and all the WPRA women who stepped in ‚Äď tried to make this the very best National Finals they could,‚ÄĚ Taylor said. ‚ÄúThe ground changed a lot from last year, and they did everything they possibly could to have our equine athletes‚Äô best interests in mind, and it showed.
‚ÄúIt got progressively better to make this actually a horserace.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve made 10 amazing runs,‚ÄĚ Taylor said. ‚ÄúMy mare‚Äôs run sub 14-second runs every single time she‚Äôs made a decent runs and didn‚Äôt trip. The horses are tired. We‚Äôre tired. I just gave it everything I had. I wasn‚Äôt overly concerned with the statistics. I figured it would all come out in the wash.‚ÄĚ
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 ‚Äúpretty good, really good or damn good.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI‚Äôm damn good; I‚Äôve got the buckle, and it says ‚Äėdamn good‚Äô across it,‚ÄĚ she said, smiling that brilliant grin. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm 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 ‚Ä¶ to come back and win the world title against Lisa Lockhart when I had to beat her against her game ‚Ä¶ ‚ÄĚ
It must‚Äôve 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.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs no easy horserace,‚ÄĚ Taylor said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve 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‚Äôm all about that. I think it‚Äôs a fantastic thing for rodeo to push it into the limelight.
‚ÄúIt was exciting to do, so it had to be exciting to watch. I‚Äôm 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.‚ÄĚ
A quick look back
Doctors once told Fallon Taylor the chances were slim she‚Äôd ever walk again, maybe talk again.
She beat the odds. That‚Äôs what Las Vegas is all about, isn‚Äôt it?
The 2014 Wrangler NFR marked the sixth time in her storied career that Taylor has qualified for ProRodeo‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúThe fans ‚Ä¶ that‚Äôs the coolest part of that,‚ÄĚ Taylor said. ‚ÄúI 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.
‚ÄúThis 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.‚ÄĚ
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.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. ‚Äď The National Little Britches Rodeo Association Finals is moving to the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla., beginning in 2016.
‚ÄúWe are extremely proud to be selected as the host facility for the NLBRA Finals and look forward to growing our partnership,‚ÄĚ said Dan Wall, general manager of Lazy E Arena. ‚ÄúWe are excited to welcome NLBRA and its members into the Lazy E family.‚ÄĚ
The 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.
‚ÄúMoving the NLBRA Finals to Pueblo was a positive for the NLBRA,‚ÄĚ executive director Kimber Solberg said. ‚ÄúThe 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.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúOver the years, we‚Äôve built a strong bond with Pueblo,‚ÄĚ Solberg said. ‚ÄúI can only compare it to a child going off to college. It‚Äôs hard to let them go, but you know it‚Äôs the best move. And like kids going off to college, you don‚Äôt lose them, the relationship just changes. The NLBRA certainly intends to keep Little Britches Rodeo alive and well in Pueblo, Colorado.‚ÄĚ
The Lazy E Arena opened its doors in December 1984 in time for that season‚Äôs 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 ‚Ä¶ 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.
‚ÄúThis is the only indoor arena that allows us, the NLBRA, to produce our finals with three arenas running simultaneously for the viewing audience,‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs premier Western entertainment facility. Many updates and renovations are taking place at the arena, which will only enhance the lure of the Lazy E.
OKLAHOMA CITY ‚Äď 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‚Äôs just where Johnson was through much of the 2015 rodeo season.
‚ÄúI rehabbed on my own for a little while, then I went to three rodeos after the Fourth of July,‚ÄĚ said Johnson, 26, a three-time International Finals Rodeo from Centerville, Kan. ‚ÄúThen I got hurt again, so I took two more weeks off.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúI went pretty hard and was able to accomplish that,‚ÄĚ 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. ‚ÄúIt was good to do good at St. Tite. Without that, I don‚Äôt think I could‚Äôve made the IFR.‚ÄĚ
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 ‚Äď only the top 15 contestants in each event earn the right to compete at the IFR. He‚Äôs had considerable success inside State Fair Arena before, winning the average title during the 2011 championship.
‚ÄúI‚Äôd have to say winning the average at the IFR was my biggest accomplishment so far,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt 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‚Äôm proud of it.‚ÄĚ
He should be. It‚Äôs an amazing honor and one he‚Äôd like to repeat during this year‚Äôs finale. In order to win that title, he‚Äôll 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‚Äôs wheelhouse.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm more of an average roper,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm 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.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs something he‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúDad brought home a couple of roping horses,‚ÄĚ Trenton Johnson said. ‚ÄúHe built us an arena, and we started team roping.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs son, Cole.
‚ÄúMy dad raised cows for as long as I can remember,‚ÄĚ said Johnson, who has a sponsorship agreement with Pretty Western Clothing Botique. ‚ÄúHe 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.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs found success in every area of rodeo in which he‚Äôs competed, including the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He aspires to qualify for the PRCA championship, the National Finals Rodeo, and battle for that organization‚Äôs world championship.
Of course, it‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúShe comes from a strong rodeo family, and we met at Northwestern,‚ÄĚ said Johnson, who began dating his wife in 2009. ‚ÄúShe now works for Miller International, which is Cinch.‚ÄĚ
Together, they bring a strong pedigree to Oklahoma City for the IFR. They‚Äôll also bring Boone, an 11-year-old sorrel gelding.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve had him since 2011,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs consistent. He‚Äôs a powerful horse. He does everything good, and he‚Äôs honest. He understands roping, and he likes his job.‚ÄĚ
So does Trenton Johnson. That‚Äôs why he‚Äôs chasing his gold-buckle dreams.
IFR TO CELEBRATE 25 YEARS AS AN OKLAHOMA CITY INSTITUTION
OKLAHOMA CITY ‚Äď Oklahoma‚Äôs capital city is much different than it was in January 1991.
There‚Äôs 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.
The 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.
‚ÄúI actually didn‚Äôt qualify for the IFR the last two years in Tulsa,‚ÄĚ said Dale Yerigan, general manager of the Oklahoma City-based International Professional Rodeo Association and an 11-time steer wrestling world champion. ‚ÄúWhen I found out that the IFR was moving to Oklahoma City and that the money was going to increase, that‚Äôs one of the things that helped me make the decision to focus on rodeoing in the IPRA.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs 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‚Äôs bulldogging world for nine straight years after that, winning the titles for the 1991-1999 seasons ‚Äď 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.
‚ÄúIn the 1990s, I had a streak of winning world titles, and a lot of that was because of the move to Oklahoma City,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe future was one of the things that helped me make my decision and my focus. It was easier on my family to rodeo together.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúThe 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,‚ÄĚ Yerigan said. ‚ÄúNow they host an NBA franchise, which is no small fete in mid-America.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre glad to be back at the fairgrounds, and I believe it‚Äôs the best facility for us. We want to grow there.‚ÄĚ
Growth has been steady, and it comes with the help of key sponsors like Love‚Äôs Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tener‚Äôs, Graham‚Äôs, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langston‚Äôs, Cattlemen‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúLike most of rodeo, we‚Äôve changed some over the years,‚ÄĚ Yerigan said. ‚ÄúThe 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.
‚ÄúRodeo‚Äôs 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.‚ÄĚ
At the IFR, the competition is mixed with excellent production to make for a night of family-friendly entertainment.
‚ÄúWe have whittled this down to the top 15 that come compete,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúYou get to see the same 15 compete every performance for four performances. Whether it‚Äôs Friday night or Sunday afternoon, you get to see the top level of competition.
‚ÄúWhen 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‚Äôre going to see the top level competition.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs something fans have come to expect over the last 25 years. It‚Äôs just as it should be.
On these final few hours of 2014, it‚Äôs 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‚Äôs all behind us ‚Ä¶ at least for a little while.
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‚Äôt 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.
The year also was fabulous for me and my business, Rodeo Media Relations. I worked all the major ProRodeo events ‚Äď 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôve interviewed Joe a couple dozen times, but that was the first time he‚Äôd 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‚Äôm blessed beyond measure. May we all be as blessed in 2015.
21-TIME CHAMP READY TO DEFEND TITLES AT IFR 45
OKLAHOMA CITY ‚Äď Shawn Minor approaches rodeo much like a factory-worker.
‚ÄúI just want to be a rodeo cowboy,‚ÄĚ said Minor, a 21-time International Professional Rodeo Association world champion from Camden, Ohio. ‚ÄúI have a wife and two kids, and I‚Äôve got to provide for them. That means winning at rodeos. If you don‚Äôt win, you don‚Äôt get paid and don‚Äôt make a living.‚ÄĚ
He‚Äôs done pretty well at it. Since his rookie season, Minor has qualified every year for the International Finals Rodeo. He returns for the 12th time to IFR 45, set for Jan. 16-18 at Jim Norick State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.
He owns nine all-round gold buckles, eight bareback riding titles and four saddle bronc riding championships. He will roll into Oklahoma City in mid-January No. 1 in all three categories.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been playing this game since I was 13, and I‚Äôve learned the ropes,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve been through the failure and success. I know how to do this deal.‚ÄĚ
That has paid off quite well. He has earned nearly $61,000 riding bucking horses in the IPRA.
‚ÄúA lot of people told me I couldn‚Äôt make a living rodeoing, and I set out to prove them wrong,‚ÄĚ said Minor, 39, who first qualified for the IFR in his late 20s. ‚ÄúI never set out to win world titles. I just wanted to be known as a good cowboy, in the arena and out.
‚ÄúMy success that I‚Äôve had has just been the topping of the cake. I feel pretty lucky, but I probably work harder at it than most people work in their lifetime. When it comes to riding bucking horses, I would eat it, sleep it, dream about it. I would wake up in the morning, then go out and saddle a colt that I knew bucked. It‚Äôs all in how bad you want something.‚ÄĚ
He travels North America in order to compete in the sport he loves. He mounts about 200 bucking horses a year. Some years, he has to really work at his job to make it pay off. That was 2014.
‚ÄúThis was not really one of my better years,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI won a lot, but I won a lot of second- and third-place checks. I didn‚Äôt draw the one on them (to win on often). Last year I couldn‚Äôt draw a bad one; this year I had to work pretty hard.‚ÄĚ
Work is nothing new to Minor, who grew up on a ranch near Gordon, Neb., in the state‚Äôs northwest corner, just a stone‚Äôs throw from the South Dakota border. He attended a country school that had about half a dozen students in kindergarten-eighth grade. In fact, he started driving himself to school when he was about 8 years old.
‚ÄúThey wired 2-by-4s to the pedals, the clutch, brake and gas,‚ÄĚ said Minor, who also rode horses to class. ‚ÄúI broke a lot of ponies and colts to ride going back and forth to school.‚ÄĚ
Now nearing 40, he continues to make his presence known in the game he‚Äôs played since he was a youngster.
‚ÄúBeing in so many wrecks in my lifetime ‚Äď as far as bucking horses flipping over or whatever ‚Äď I‚Äôve just learned to steer clear of a lot of that stuff,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI think a lot of that is just experience, and I‚Äôve had a lot of it.
‚ÄúYou tend to get pretty savvy to that kind of stuff.‚ÄĚ
He also has learned a traditional trait of most cowboys; he can block out pain long enough to make the rides necessary. Of course, there‚Äôs no other way a man has a chance at his 22nd, 23rd and 24th gold buckles during the 25th anniversary IFR in Oklahoma City.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs all in your head, because rodeo is such a mental game,‚ÄĚ Minor said. ‚ÄúIf you don‚Äôt have a strong mind and a big heart, you‚Äôre probably never going to go very far in rodeo.‚ÄĚ
Minor has come a long ways in his rodeo career, and it doesn‚Äôt look like he‚Äôs slowing down any time soon.
For me, Christmas is always about family, reflection and showing my love for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Family is the perfect way to see God‚Äôs love for us. It‚Äôs evident in the eyes of our children, in their laughter, in the beauty that is my wife. This year has been exceptional in that regard; save the flu that has wrapped its not-so-loving arms around my youngest daughter.
What you need to read today is not my diatribe, but the words presented to me by my oldest daughter, who will be 13 in mid-March. She‚Äôs wise beyond her years. She came into my life when she was 3 years old; she came into my heart moments after I met the vibrant little girl with an amazing personality.
She is my step-daughter, though we‚Äôve never allowed that word to interfere with our relationship. Here are her words, etched on a frame that covers a 2009 photo of her and me at a Royals game:
Some people would say you‚Äôre not my real dad, but I know that‚Äôs not fully true, for you‚Äôve been a real dad to me in all the things we‚Äôve been through. We‚Äôve had our ups and downs; sometimes it‚Äôs hard to bend, but you‚Äôve always been there when I‚Äôve needed you. And that‚Äôs what matters in the end. I‚Äôm eternally grateful to you, because you‚Äôve treated me as your own. For though we‚Äôre not tied by blood, instead the love and trust you‚Äôve given me. That‚Äôs what counts you as a real dad.