There’s an event in rodeo, bulldogging or steer wrestling it’s called, and when you try to picture that you can get a strange image if you’re not familiar with this form of physical encounter between cow and man. At the second day of the 107th four-day Pendleton Round-Up, rodeo spectators saw an example of what happens when cowboys encounter this challenge.
The event calls for the cowboy to pursue a running steer on a galloping horse, then, in a controlled fall, drop from the horse to the steer, grab its horns and flip it. The man who does it in the least time wins. On Thursday, of the 12 cowboys signed up for the event, three were able to accomplish this.
Ordinarily we write about the winners of rodeo events but here’s what happened to a few of the losers. Justin Kimsey, Kennewick, WA, flew from his horse, missed the steer and slid to a halt on his face. Coltin J Hill, Blackfoot, ID, also missed his steer, somehow rolling to a stop in front of the cow as it ran over him. Miguel Garcia, Kaycee, WY, had almost let go of his horse when it suddenly hit the accelerator and Garcia went flying into an upright position. And Jordan Holland, Dillon, MT, was just about to leave the chute down which the horse and steer begin the run when his horse twisted to face in the opposite direction and came to a sudden halt. And so it goes in rodeo.
Despite all that, Ross Mosher, Augusta, MT, won the event with a time of 7.5 seconds, although he limped painfully from the field. He was followed by Dane Browning, Coyote, CA, in 9.2 and Miles Switzer, Morro Bay, CA, in 15.1. Actually Switzer had the best time, 5.1 seconds, but his horse broke the barrier at the beginning of the run before the steer had cleared, giving Switzer a 10-second penalty. Bulldogging has its rules.
In Thursday’s bareback event a horse named Lunatic Clown proved perfect for Orin Larsen, Inglis, MB, as he took first with a score of 82.5. In rodeo’s bucking events the judges evaluate both the rider and the horse or bull and score each separately before totaling the points. The horse that jumps high and twists quickly will help the cowboy win. Following Larsen in second place was Justin Miller, 28, Billings, MT, with 80 on September Skies. And in third with 79, in a three-way tie, were Luke Creasy, Garland, TX, Clownin’ Around; Kaycee Field, Spanish Fork, UT, Gargamel, and Devan Reilly, Sheridan, WY, aboard Xavier Joan.
Of all of those finishers, Larsen ranks highest in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s world standings, #12 with $82,000 in winnings, followed by Miller, #13 with $80,000. Of the those in the three-way tie, Creasy, age 28, is currently ranked #28 with over $45,000 in winnings this year and Feild, 30, at #29 with $41,000. Reilly, 25, is ranked 34th with $30,000.
Larsen, 26, finished 3rd in world standings last year by winning nearly as much at the Wranglers National Finals Rodeo, $81,000, as he has won so far this year. All professional rodeo cowboys hope to make the final 15 in each event, which will earn them a berth at the WNFR, the world series of rodeo in December in Las Vegas, a rodeo that can provide a big boost in winnings and standings for the year. Because the Pendleton Round-Up is one of the last major rodeos of the season, it can serve as a critical step up for those close to the 15th spot but it’s also important for those just above 15, such as Larsen and Miller, if they are to remain in the running for the WNFR.
As with bulldogging, calf roping often frustrates the competitor, as happened Thursday when only four of the 12 signed up for this event were able to rope a calf for a qualifying time. In first was a local favorite, from nearby Hermiston, OR, Brad Goodrich, the champion in the event at the Round-Up in 2004, when he also won the All Around championship here, and again in 2008. At just short of 50, Goodrich doesn’t compete with the same frequency he once did and he finished in 83rd place in 2016 with $14,852 in winnings for the year, a small part of the total of nearly $1.3 million won in his 30-year professional career with the PRCA. Goodrich is married to professional barrel racer Jodi Goodrich, who is also competing again in this year’s Round-Up.
Behind Goodrich were Jared Parke, Gooding, ID, in 12.6 seconds, and Chad Finley, Mt. Vernon, OR, in 18.2.
In the second and final day of a new event being tried at the Round-Up, breakaway roping, Sarah Morrisey scored the fastest time, 2.7 seconds. In this event, for women only, the competitor chases and ropes a calf, which then pulls the rope until it breaks an attached string, the point at which time is called. Morrisey was followed by Danielle Jennings, Ontario, OR, 2.9 seconds, and Kellie Wiersma, Outlook, WA, at 3.0. Of the eight contestants seven managed to rope their quarry, all in or under five seconds, although Amy Woodruff, Caldwell ID, ended up at 13 with a 10-second penalty. The leader in the event over the two days was Gracie Wiersma, Kellie’s sister, also from Outlook, with a time of 2.5 seconds. Gracie competes in rodeo at nearby Walla Walla Community College while Kellie, 24, competed for the University of Arizona rodeo team.
In the event most emblematic of Round-Up, a cowboy saddled atop a bucking horse, the best score, 80, was registered by Heith Allan DeMoss, 32, Heflin, LA, a regular at the Round-Up who is ranked #10 in the world standings with over $80,000 in winnings this year so he should be appearing at the WNFR in December. His brother, Cody, 36, ranked #3 in the standings, has won this event twice here. Heith DeMoss finished 14th in world standings last year. To date he has won 10 rodeos this year, adding to the over $1.1 million won in his 13-year professional career. Although he has yet to win a world title, he has qualified for the WNFR eight times since 2007.
Behind Heith DeMoss were three cowboys tied at 78 points each: Joe Harper, Paradise Valley, NV; Chuck Schmidt, Keldron, SD, and Layton Green, Meeting Creek, AB. Of the three, Green is the only one high enough in the world standings to make it to the WNFR, ranked #4 with over $110,000 in winnings for the year. The 23-year-old has earned over $130,000 in a four-year rodeo career and is up from his 2016 finish at 19th. He’s on a streak, having won 17 rodeos this season. As with so many rodeo competitors, his grandparents, parents and a brother have all competed in rodeo.
When two cowboys on galloping horses have to coordinate a roping of one steer, front and back, in as short a time as possible, the opportunities for mishaps are many, especially when the steer knows no rules. Theoretically the steer will run directly from the cowboys but in practice the steers run wherever they feel like going, even circling around toward the point where they began. This behavior can provide an enormous difference in the results for each team of competitive ropers.
On Thursday the times to complete the two-phased roping ranged from 5.5 to 13.8 seconds (this last time included a five-second penalty). Remarkably only three of the 11 competing teams failed to catch the steer in the required sequence—first head, then rear heels—for a qualifying time. The shortest time belonged to the team of Blake Teixeira, header, Tres Pinos, CA, and Monty Joe Petska, heeler, Turlock, CA. They were followed by the teams of Jake Stanley, Hermiston, OR/Brent Falon, Yakima, WA, 5.8 seconds and by McKennan Buckner, Powell Butte, OR, /Bill Justus, Haines, OR, 7.4 seconds.
Teixeira does not appear in the list of the top 50 in the standings for team roping headers but his heeler, Petska, 55, is ranked 45th, still a long way from the point where entry into the WNFR is possible. However, Petska’s younger brother, Cory, 38, who finished first as a heeler on Wednesday at the Round-Up, is ranked #1 in the event’s world standings and nearly guaranteed a spot in the WNFR. Although he has yet to win a world title at the WNFR Monty Joe has qualified for the rodeo 14 times beginning in 1985 and competed there at least three times with his father, Paul.
Usually considered the most exciting, because the most dangerous, of the rough stock (Bucking) events, bull riding on Thursday at the Round-Up included the world’s top ranked PRCA bull rider, Sage Kimzey, Strong City, OK, but he didn’t fare so well at the Round-Up, finishing well down in the day’s event with a score of 72.5. The top score went to Joe Frost, Randlett, UT, ranked 6thin the standings with over $100,000 in winnings for the year.
Frost, 25, is joined by brother, Josh, 22, #23 in the event world standings. The younger Frost was 19th in 2016 while Joe Frost finished 4th. Joe Frost was followed on Thursday by a three-way tie at 82.5 points, including Ruger Piva, Challis, ID, Chase Robbins, Marsing, ID, and Riley Blankenship, Killdeer, ND. Robbins, 21, and a two-year veteran of the PRCA, finished 2016 at 23rd place in the world standings. Neither Robbins or Blankenship are currently ranked in the PRCA’s top 50 in the event while Piva is ranked #43.
Only three of the 12 steer ropers on the schedule caught their steers Thursday and two managed to tie for first place. At 13.1 seconds Jason Stewart, Heppner, OR, and Quay Howard, Canyon, TX will share the honors as they move towards Saturday’s finals in the Round-Up. In second place was Todd Dickson, Madras, OR, with a time of 18.3 seconds. None of the three are in the PRCA’s top 50 in the event’s world standings.
In the Round-Up’s main women’s event, Jolene Douglas-Hoburg, Kennewick, WA, won first place with a time of 29.18 seconds, followed by Mindy Goemmer, Battle Mountain, NV, at 29.47 and Jessi Cronquist, Plain City, UT, at 29.5 seconds.
The Pendleton Round-Up continues on Friday, Sept. 15 at 1:15pm.