Cowboys from Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho, California, Washington, Oregon and even Iowa and Florida are winning at the 108th Pendleton Round-Up
In rodeo most of the events are seen as solo acts by a single cowboy or cowgirl. But in truth there’s always a partnership—between a horse, a bull, maybe a steer or a calf. In the bucking events, where judges score the rides, the rider and the animal get some portion of a total of 50 points each. Optimally, both the rider and the ridden score well.
And that’s what happened for Blaine Kaufman, Pretty Prairie, KS, who moved to the top in the first event of the day on Thursday, as he scored 85 points atop CC Valley in bareback riding. Kaufman’s style was perfect as he attempted to keep his torso upright and in control. He stroked the horse’s shoulder’s continually and evenly with his spurs, another element of a strong score.
But even with his strong performance, Kaufman recognized his partner’s starring role.
“That was a horse I had a couple of years ago and she flipped on me and broke my rigging then so I was real tickled when I saw that I was going to have her today because I knew what was she was going to be when I was on her.” Like all competitors in rodeo, Kaufman looks forward to a challenging horse--the tougher the horse, the better the score.
Describing his winning ride, Kaufman said, “She bailed out of there real nice and she basically took the same trip she did two years ago. She went to the edge of the grass and then she just went along the bucking chutes and was just jumpin’ and kickin’. You can feel when it’s hats off and you’re havin’ fun.”
The Pendleton Round-Up is unique among big rodeos because of its grass infield. Rodeo horses are used to dirt, not grass and the difference can spook the ever wary horse. As the bucking horses leave the chute into the dirt track at the Round-Up, they shortly reach the grass. Then they occasionally hang along the chutes to remain in the dirt.
Kaufman is currently ranked 39th in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) standings for the year. This late in the rodeo season it would take a near miracle for him to move up to the point he might qualify for the Wranglers National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), the sport’s world series in December in Las Vegas. But he’s having fun.
Behind Kaufman were Ty Fast Taypotat, Regina, SK, riding Black Ice for a score of 80.5 and Trenten Montero, Winnemucca, NV, with 80. Typotat is 19th in the standings, so still has a chance at the WNFR, while Montero, at 26th is unlikely to make it. Of the 13 competitors who rode on Thursday 12 were able to stay for the full eight seconds needed for a score.
Montero, 26, achieved his 80 point ride aboard a buckskin mare, Broken Angel, who made her debut at today’s rodeo and bucked like a champion. She’ll be in competition for a good long while.
In the calf roping event on Thursday, only three of the 10 competitors were able to catch their calf for a time, with Bo Pickett, Caldwell, ID, accomplishing the feat in 10.9 seconds. He was followed by Taylor Santos, Creston, CA, 12.4. and Quay Howard, Canyon, TX, 15.4.
Pickett, 21, the nephew of Dee Pickett, a winner of two titles at the WNFR and a member of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, entered rodeo as did his cousins, a bulldogger and barrel racer, despite his uncle’s advice to avoid the hard life of a rodeo competitor. Since he started in rodeo a couple of years ago, Bo’s parents built an arena at home for his practices and his dad, Rich, even got back into rodeo so he could rope with his son. Despite his uncle’s advice, Bo says that Dee has been a big help with the mental side of competition and with training his horses.
Over the first two days of the rodeo, Shane Hanchey, Sulpher, LA, has the best average time in two runs, 10.1 seconds, to take the lead into Saturday’s finals. He is followed by Tyler Prcin, Alvord, TX, 10.4, and Pickett, 10.45. Hanchey, 28, finished 5th in the world standings last year and is currently at #3. He’s doing well this year with victories at 11 rodeos on the PRCA circuit.
Hanchey won the event at last year’s Round-Up with an average time of 9.3 seconds.
In the second year at the Pendleton Round-Up of this roping event for women, local favorite Jordan Minor of nearby Hermiston, Oregon, took top place with a time of 2.4 to rope her calf, besting the fastest time at 2017’s first rendition of the event here, 2.5 seconds by Gracie Wiersma. Minor was followed Thursday by Kiley Duby, Palisades, WA, 2.9 seconds, and Hailey Jo Hall, Touchet, WA, 4.4.
Minor, 29, is also a tough barrel racing competitor whose mother, Maureen Crossley, is a champion barrel racer. Her dad, Shane, competed in calf and team roping. Two younger sisters also barrel race. Her husband and cousins compete in rodeo. “All my relatives do it,” she said recently, “it’s all I’ve ever known.”
The saddle bronc rider is the symbol of rodeo and the copyrighted logo of the Pendleton Round-Up. The rides today are just as tough as they were in the early years when that logo was illustrated even if the cowboys today dress a little differently. Feather Fluffer sounds like a nap in the shade but was instead a very rough ride on a bright sunny day for Wade Sundell, Boxholm, IA, who took second place for the day at Thursday’s Round-Up in this iconic event.
Sundell scored 83.5, just behind first place winner Jake Wright and just ahead of Wright’s brother Jesse, with a score of 83. It’s tough to be between the Wrights, members of a storied Milford, UT, family with what seem like dozens of uncles, dads, brothers and cousins who all compete in professional rodeo and win. In fact, there was a third Wright, Alex, scheduled to compete today but he did not ride.
Over the two days of the rodeo, a four-day event ending Saturday, Jake has taken first with his score of 85, Isaac Diaz, Desdemona, TX, is in a tie for second after his Wednesday performance, tied with Sundell at 83.5, Jesse Wright is third with his 83 and he’s followed by another Wright, Ryder, with 81.5.
In the PRCA world standings for saddle bronc riding, Ryder Wright is #2, Diaz is #3, Rusty Wright is #4, Sundell is #7, Jake Wright is # 12 and Spencer Wright is #16. All of them may qualify for the WNFR in December.
BULLDOGGING (STEER WRESTLING)
Bulldoggers tend to be big guys. Their job is to race up to a running steer, quickly slide from their horse onto the steer, grab its horns, bring it down to the ground and don’t get hurt. It’s dependent on skill but also on weight and brute force. Six-foot, five-inch, 265-pound Bear Pascoe, Morro Bay, CA, was the requisite size and so turned in a terrific time on Thursday. He recorded a 4.1 seconds, best for the day and best so far for the first two days of the four-day rodeo.
He was followed by Jesse Brown, Baker City, OR, 5.8 seconds, and Miles Switzer, also from Morro Bay, CA, 6.1.
Over the first two days Switzer took the lead with an average time in two events of 6.2 seconds, followed by Brown, 6.3, and Cameron Morman, Glen Ullin, ND, 7.25 seconds. Pascoe’s time of 4.1 is the best so far of any bulldogger.
In the PRCA world standings for bulldogging, Morman has the best chance of making the WNFR, at #16. Brown is at #37 while the rest of these competitors are not in the top 50.
Pascoe’s starting sport was not rodeo but professional football where he earned a ring in Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 and caught four passes in the New York Giants victory over the New England Patriots. The 32-year-old Pascoe grew up on a cattle ranch in central California and comes from a rodeo background—his brother, Ryan, is his team roping partner and his father-in-law, John W. Jones is in the Pro Rodeo Hall of fame as a bulldogger and 10-time qualifier for the NFR. Last December he was invited to compete in the PRCA Permit Challenge, where he was crowned the bulldogging champion, one of only two cowboys to get both of his steers down.
Rodeo’s only “team” event features a cowboy roping a steer by its head, the header, and his partner, the heeler, catching its hind feet. Catch one foot and you lose points. It’s extremely challenging, given the coordination required and the lack of cooperation by the steer. Still, of the 11 competitors in the event on Thursday, four managed a time, with Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp topping the field at 5.1 seconds. They were followed by the teams of Tyler Wade/Tyler McKnight, 5.8. and Chad Masters/Tyler Worley, 6.4.
Snow, Los Olivos, CA, and Thorp, Throckmorton, TX, are ranked #7 and #11 in the PRCA header/heeler standings, so both should be showing up at the WNFR in December. Wade, Terrell, TX/McKnight, Wells, TX, are 12/20 in those standings so may also be in Las Vegas. Masters, Cedar Hill, TN at #11 as a header may also be there but Worley, Berryville, AR, at #34 in the heeler standings, may not.
Snow, 21, and a three-year veteran of pro rodeo, has already appeared at the WNFR twice, 2016-17. His partner, Thorp, 22, qualified for the same WNFR events with Snow.
In the average over two events the team of Dustin Bird/Kyle Locket leads with an average of 6.15 seconds, followed by Dex Maddock/Kurtis Barry and Ty Blasingame/J.W. Borrego, tied at 6.45.
In the bull riding event, regional favorite Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, WA, took first with a score of 81, riding Hogs & Heifers. Proctor was the world champion in the event in 2011 and is currently ranked 47th. The 33-year-old has won four rodeos this year, down from last year. He began his professional career in 2005.
Dustin Boquet, Bourg, LA, rode Iron Tiger to finish just behind Proctor with 80 but is well ahead in the national standings at #3, a certain qualifier for the WNFR. This has been a banner year for the 24-year-old Boquet, who joined the PRCA in 2013 but didn’t really kick off his career until last year, when he finished 50th in the standings. This year he has won seven rodeos and could add the Pendleton Round-Up to his list.
Behind Boquet was Riker Carter at 79. Carter, Stone, ID, stands at #19 in the PRCA standings so may/may not make it to the WNFR. He finished at #29 last year and has won two rodeos this year. He won the National High School Finals Rodeo in bull riding in 2008 and joined the PRCA in 2010.
The overall standings at the Round-Up for bull riding, through Thursday, show Koby Radley, Holden, LA, in first with a score of 85.5; Gumby Wren, Sidney, IA, in second with 83.5, and Jordan Hansen, Ponoka, AB, third, at 82.5. Proctor is fourth at 81, followed at 80 by Boquet and Dylan Hice Vick, Escalon, CA.
Over the two days of steer roping so far, Trevor Brazile, famous as the King of Cowboys, has first place with an average time of 13.65. Brazile, Decatur, TX, has the record for most championships at the WNFR and most money earned in professional rodeo. He’s also been a champion at the Pendleton Round-Up where he won the All Around Champion title five times including four straight years, 2012-15.
Behind Brazile is Roger Branch, Wellston, OK, at 16.1 average, Jarret Blessing, Paradise, TX, 16.65, and Will Gasperson, Decatur, TX, 16.75.
Branch, 56, and a 34-year-PRCA competitor, has won two rodeos this year and names the Pendleton Round-Up as his favorite rodeo. Blessing won this event at the Round-Up in 2002 while Gasperson won it last year.
Currently Brazile stands #6 in the PRCA in the event, Blessing is #12, Gasperson #14 and Branch #16 so all have a chance at qualifying for this year’s WNFR.
In Thursday’s final event, women’s barrel racing, top finishers were Italy Sheehan, Shoshone, ID, 29.05; Mindy Goemmer, Battle Mountain, NV, 29.09, Cindy Woods, Molalla, OR, 29.29, and Lexi Burgess, Sublimity, OR, 29.50.
Sheehan grew up in rodeo, with a grandfather who was a PRCA world champion steer wrestler and both of her parents competing. She won barrel racing and all-around titles in college rodeo. Today she farms 80 acres with her husband, rodeos and works as a recovery room nurse in a hospital.
Earlier in the week’s qualification events, Teri Bangart had a time of 29.11 and Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, OR was at 29.3. Mays is a top racer who has qualified for the WNFR six times, 2007-12. Like Mays, Bangart is a regional favorite, from nearby Walla Walla, WA. Earlier in September Bangart turned in a winning time in barrel racing on her horse Peak, a 12-year-old gelding who gets a lot of credit from Bangart for her wins.
The Pendleton Round-Up continues on Friday and Saturday at 1:15 pm.