Rough Stock Events – Bareback, Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding:
Winning money at Cheyenne Frontier Days can make a contestant’s rodeo season, but for contestants who reside in Wyoming and Colorado it is doubly important. The “Daddy of ‘em All” is part of the PRCA’s Mountain States Circuit, so money for those contestants counts towards circuit standings as well as towards the world standings. One of those contestants is bareback rider Joel Schlegel from Burns, Colo. He just had the biggest win of his career at the Cody (Wyo.) Stampede over the Fourth of July. Schlegel is now 25th in the world standings and leads the circuit standings after winning $10,540 at Cody.
Caleb Bennett is looking good for his fifth NFR qualification and comes to Cheyenne in third place in the world. Bennett is a four-time College National Finals Rodeo qualifier who is having the best season of his career since joining the PRCA in 2007. Another bareback rider hoping to have success here is French-born Evan Jayne who made his first trip to Las Vegas to compete at the NFR last December. Jayne competed in high school and college rodeo. He was teaching ag and quit his job to accomplish his goal of making a living as a rodeo cowboy.
For saddle bronc riding fans, today is the Wright day to be at the rodeo. There are eight members of the family competing here today including Cody Wright, the oldest of the brothers (Jake, Jesse, Alex, Spencer) and father of Rusty and Ryder. The eighth member of the family competing here today and tomorrow is CoBurn Bradshaw who is married to a sister of the brothers. Of them all, Rusty is highest in the world standings at 2nd. CoBurn is 3rd and Jake is 4th. Cody is 15th and hoping to qualify for the NFR and compete with his sons. Rusty had his first qualification last year and Cody missed it after having shoulder surgery. It was the first time that he had missed the NFR in 12 years. This year, Ryder, the rookie, is also in contention at 21st .
There is other talent in the field, including Cody DeMoss, who has won the buckle here three times. He has been to the NFR 11 times and is 24th in the standings. The 2015 college champ Clay Elliott is likely headed to Vegas for the first time. He’s 10th in the standings. And, never count out Wyoming’s Chet Johnson who has been to the finals here on numerous occasions.
Shane Proctor won the gold buckle for being the world’s best 2011, the same year he won the bull riding here. Proctor loves to travel, ride bulls and Wyoming. He went to college at Northwest in Powell and competed at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper. He takes every opportunity he can to be back here and is ranked 8th in the world.
Garrett Tribble is coming off of a successful Fourth of July run including a win at the Cody Stampede. He is 9th and hoping for his first NFR qualification. Scottie Knapp and Jeff Askey are also looking good for a trip to Las Vegas in December as well. They are 2nd and 6th.
Timed Events – Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Tie-Down Roping and Barrel Racing:
Our defending all-around champion, Jo Jo Lemond will be back here in the team roping wearing his #1 back number. He is heading for veteran Kory Koontz and both of them need to earn some money here to move into the top 15 in the world. Jo Jo is known for throwing hard and fast and with 20 NFR qualifications to Kory’s credit, he certainly knows what he is doing. Most of today’s team ropers are listed in the top 25 so there could be a shakeup in the first-round leaderboard.
Second-ranked Ty Erickson and his travel partner 5th ranked Clayton Hass are likely to be riding the AQHA horse of the year, Montana Shake Em. We talk about the long score and the big cattle, but never give the horses enough credit here. They have to run fast and straight, twice as far as they are used to, while they have a 150 to 200-pound cowboy leaning off of their sides. And often they do it multiple times in a day. Steer wrestling horses love their jobs and will often pin their ears and stretch out as they run trying to give their riders the best opportunity.
World standings leader Hunter Herrin is among the tie-down ropers favored to make a move. Roping the calf is just half of the battle and Herrin is very talented on the ground. He is known for tying fast and his hands have helped him earn over $1 million in the rodeo arena.
Ryan Jarrett is leading the world all-around race and hoping to earn that title here. He is entered in tie-down roping and steer wrestling and will be roping this afternoon. His wife Shy-Anne will also be among the barrel racers so this family will be busy.
Kristi Steffes finished third at the Cinch Shootout last week and will be taking her great gray gelding around the cloverleaf pattern again today. This is the horse that she won the 2016 college championship on.
It’s been over 20 years since Sherry Cervi won this rodeo, but the talented horsewoman is certainly capable of doing it again this year. She should be riding a big sorrel gelding they call Atlas and they are an exciting team to watch.