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Paden Bray Turns Heads with Tie-Down Roping Win in Hermiston

By: Jolee Jordan

In five years as a professional, Paden Bray has already accumulated two PRCA Reserve World Champion titles, a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average win and more than half a million dollars in earnings.

Most of those earnings, however, have come as a heeler in the team roping so it may have been a surprise to see the Stephenville, Texas, cowboy’s name at the top of the heap of world champs and Wrangler NFR qualifiers in the tie down-roping at the Farm-City Pro Rodeo in Hermiston, Ore.

“I still can’t believe it,” Bray, 24, said with a laugh after roping a pair of calves in 15.9 seconds to earn $9,141.

“I just drew two great calves and got on my buddy’s awesome horse,” Bray said of the path to victory at the stop on the Playoff Series. He borrowed 2023 leading Rookie of the Year contender Dylan Hancock’s Earl, a horse he joked is “way too good of a horse to have a name like Earl.”

“He’s a damn nice horse,” Bray said, noting he’d ridden him a couple of times prior to Hermiston.

Roping first out in the Friday matinee slack on Aug. 11, Bray laid down a smooth run of 8.3 seconds which ended up fourth in the round. That night, he backed it with an even better 7.6-second run, which split second in the round and gave him the average win by nearly a full second.

After also picking up $2,725 in the team roping with partner Brenten Hall, Bray also collected another big all-around win, just weeks after taking home the all-around title at the California Rodeo Salinas.

“It is just crazy to win almost 12 grand in one day . . . you don’t have days like that all the time,” Bray said. “The stars just have to line up and I drew great calves. Our second steer wasn’t real good or we would have had a chance to win the team roping too.”

“Hermiston has always given a cool saddle. It was just a special win.”

Bray is in the Top 15 of the PRCA | RAM World Standings in heeling, well in range for his third Wrangler NFR trip and first since 2021. He and Hall won nearly $30,000 in July along with Gold Medals in Salt Lake City, Utah, but the duo has done so through adversity.

“My good (calf) horse got strangles (highly contagious bacterial infection of the upper airway in horses) on July 6 and was in Nampa at Idaho Equine for a month and a half,” Bray said. Hall’s good horse also contracted the highly infectious disease, leaving both cowboys jump riding and “figuring it out.”

“I had planned to enter a bunch in (tie-down roping) in July, from like Casper (Wyo.) on, but I feel bad mounting out. Horses are so expensive and there’s already so many runs this time of year.”

“I only ended up going to a five or six and I really appreciate Dylan letting me ride his horse.”

With his good horse back in the rig, Bray is entered in the tie-down roping everywhere and Hall is back on his good stick too, bringing a certain level of relief.

“I’m at Caldwell (Idaho) (Aug. 13), and then we have a couple of days off but from Thursday, Aug. 17 on, it’s full contact,” he said. After finishing 17th in 2022, Bray is feeling good about his position and blossoming second event.

“I always say there’s a line in the sand out here and so far, we’re on the good side.”

Other winners at the $295,095 rodeo were bareback rider Dean Thompson (87 points on Calgary Stampede’s Agent Lynx); steer wrestler Cody Cabral (7.8 seconds on two head); team ropers Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira (10.0 seconds on two head); saddle bronc rider Statler Wright (90 points on Calgary Stampede’s Xplosive Skies); breakaway roper Delaney Kunau (3.9 seconds on two head); barrel racer Hayle Gibson (16.96 seconds); and bull riders Luke Mast and Jordan Spears (86 points on Korkow Rodeo’s Coca-Cola Cowboy and Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Good Whisky, respectively).

Courtesy of PRCA

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