The Pendleton Round-Up, one of America’s premier rodeos, set the horses to bucking as the 106th staging of the four-day celebration began on Wednesday, Sept. 14 in Pendleton, Oregon. Winners of the events Wednesday came from Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Idaho, Oklahoma and Nevada. As always, the rodeo attracted large numbers of Texans, who make up the second largest contingent after Oregonians, among the nearly 700 competitors.
A longtime competitor at the Pendleton Round-up, with two Round-Up championships going back to 2006, Cody DeMoss, won on the first day of the four-day Pendleton Round-Up in the bronc riding event. DeMoss, a 35-year-old Louisianan with $2 million in prize winnings over a 16-year PRCA career, gave credit to his horse today, Duck Butter.
The four-day rodeo is marking its 106th anniversary and welcoming nearly 700 competitors to each day’s eight rodeo events.
“I been watching Duck Butter all year long,” said DeMoss, who is having another good year in rodeo competition. “I seen him at St Paul, seen him the other day at Puyallup. I’ll be here all week now and let them Texas rodeos take care of themselves. I’m going to stay here in Pendleton and be here for the go round. Everything’s just been great, the stars have been lined up. I’ve been going to the rodeos I needed to and everything’s been going in my favor.”
Scores in the rough stock (bucking) events—bronc riding, bareback riding and bull riding—are based on a 100 point potential with half of the points given by the judges to the rider and half to his mount, meaning a good bucking horse can considerably improve the odds of winning. The other five events at the Round-Up are based on times.
DeMoss is currently 8th in the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) standings, after finishing 5th in 2015, putting him in a good position to end up at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas this December. He’s won at other regional rodeos this summer, including Ellensburg, Washington and Lewiston Idaho, as well at eight other rodeos from Texas to Montana. He captured his one NFR title in 2012, which was also the last year he won the bronc riding title here at the Round-Up.
Behind DeMoss, Heflin, LA, with a score of 87.5, were Jesse Wright, Milford, UT, 85, and his brother, Jake Wright, Milford, tied at 82 with Clay Elliot, Nanton, AB. Jake Wright won the Round-Up bronc riding title in 2013 and is 5thth in the PRCA world standings, 9th last year, while Jesse Wright is at 18, up one from last year’s 19th finish. Elliot is ranked 7th, with $77,000 in winnings after ending 2015 at 17th.
Like so many rodeo competitors, bareback rider Blake Smith also credited his horse for helping him capture first place on day one of the Round-Up, with a score of 83. Smith, from Zap, ND, rode the aptly named Pay Day. Smith is new to the Round-Up and to his horse, although he had seen Pay Day perform under a few of his buddies earlier this year. “He was outstanding, the reason I got the most points . . . a big dark horse that can really buck.”
Behind Smith were Caleb Bennett, Tremonton, UT, 81.5, and Bill Tutor, Huntsville, TX, 80. Bennett was 15th in the PRCA world standings last year in the bareback event with $100,000 in winnings and is now 3rd, with $123,000 while Tutor was at 31 with $33,000 last year and is now 17 with nearly $60,000. Smith is 36th in the world standings while not making the top 50 rankings last year. Bennett won the bareback event at the Round-Up in 2014.
In Wednesday’s first roping event, tie-down roping, the winning time was Austin Barstow’s 10.4 seconds. Barstow, Springview, NE, is not currently in the PRCA’s top 50 rankings. Right behind him at 10.8 seconds Wednesday was Dakota Eldridge, Elko, NV, followed by a tie at 12 seconds between Alwin Bouchard, Scandia, AB, and Blair Burk, Durant, OK. Burk is ranked 29th in the world standings for the event.
Best time of the day in steer wrestling or bulldogging was 4.8 seconds by Nick Guy, Sparta, WI, ranked 12th in world standings with $56,000 in winnings after finishing 14th in 2015 with $117,000. Behind him were chance Gartner, Walla Walla, WA, 5.5 seconds, and Dakota Eldridge, 6.5. Eldridge, 25, Elko, NV, won his first NFR title in 2015 after joining the PRCA in 2012 and has moved from $211,000 in winnings last year to $67,000 so far this year and 8th place in the PRCA world standings.
Team roping is the Round-Up’s only team event, with one roper, the header, roping a steer’s head while the second rider ropes the heels. Winners in Wednesday’s opening event were Jeff Flenniken, Caldwell, ID, header, and Tommye Flenniken, Jr., Redmond, OR, with a quick time of 5.7 seconds. They were followed by Kolton Schmidt, Barrhead, AB, header, and Shay Carroll, Prineville, OR in 6.4 seconds, and a tie at 7.4 seconds between Jr. Dees, Aurora, SD/Matt Sancanella, Aurora, SD and Tyler Haugen, Sturgis, SD/Brad Johnson, Reva, SD. Schmidt is currently 4th in world standings with nearly $100,000 in winnings this year while his partner Carroll is 8th with $73,000. Schmidt, 22, is in his fourth year of professional rodeo competition and has won six rodeos so far in 2016, after winning the Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2013, his first year of competition.
Some 18 competitors rode bulls at Wednesday’s Round-Up but most couldn’t stay on the required eight seconds to earn a score. Of the eight who did, Chase Robbins, Marsing, ID, managed the best score, 86, followed by Brady Portenier, Caldwell, ID, 85.5, and Jeffrey Joseph Ramagos, Zachary, LA at 84.5. Robbins is currently 28th in world standings. Last year’s Round-Up bull riding champion, Sage Steele Kimzey, Strong City, OK, came close Wednesday with an 83 score.
Brodie Poppino, Big Cabin, OK, won the steer roping event on Wednesday in 13.8 seconds, followed by Troy Tillard, Douglas, WY, 14.2, and Jess Tierney, Hermosa, SD, 17.2. The 25-year-old Poppino has won two rodeos this year and finished 15th in the world standings last year but is 26th so far in 2016. A win at this year’ Round-Up would give him a good bump up in the standings. Tierney is ranked 8th this year, just ahead of Tillard at 10th. Tierney finished 3rd last year in world standings while Tillard was at 14.
In the rodeo’s only women’s event Wednesday’s winner was Mindy Goemmer, Battle Mountain, NV, with a top time of 30.48 seconds over the three-barrel course. Right behind her were Nikki Steffes Hansen, Dickinson, ND, 30.71, and Mary Ann Munkers, Lexington, OR, 30.86. However, they’re behind competitors such as Stevi Hillman, Weatherford, TX, who finished a time of 29.64 in Monday’s slack, and Kimmie Wall, Roosevelt, UT, with 29.77 on Monday. Wall and Hillman are ranked 6th and 7th respectively in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association standings for the year, each with nearly $100,000 in winnings. Jana Bean, Ft. Hancock, TX., ranked 14th in WPRA standings, was right behind Wall on Monday with 30.28 seconds. Sydni Blanchard, Albuquerque, NM, 24th in the WPRA, is also in the running, with 30.33 on Monday. Wall won this event last year at the Round-Up with 28.66 while Steffes Hansen won it in 2011 with 28.51. Every winner for the past 15 years has come in under 29 seconds.