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GUYMON, Okla. ‚Äď There are a lot of adjectives to describe Cord McCoy: former bull rider, television show host, livestock contractor and reality TV star.
They‚Äôre all mixed into a giant bag of cowboy. This weekend McCoy will be in the Oklahoma Panhandle for the Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational PBR Touring Pro event, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena in Guymon.
McCoy will be one of the stock contractors at the event, providing bucking bulls to match the power of some of the Professional Bull Riders brightest rising stars. He also will be making appearances Saturday in Guymon.
From 10 a.m.-noon, McCoy will be part of an autograph session at Carter‚Äôs Market Place, where he also will announce the winner of the ‚ÄúName the Bull‚ÄĚ contest.
Starting at 2:30 p.m., he will be at Bob‚Äôs Cowboy Bar and Rodeo Room signing autographs and meeting with fans. A booth will be set up at the arena before the event begins for autographs from McCoy, Hayes, Wing and other PBR stars.
McCoy, a ranch-raised cowboy from the tiny southeastern Oklahoma town of Tupelo, is a five-time International Professional Rodeo Association champion who qualified in bull riding for the National Finals Rodeo in 2005. In the years since, he has qualified numerous times to the PBR World Finals.
He is the host of ‚ÄúThe Ride with Cord McCoy,‚ÄĚ which airs on RFD-TV. Most notably, he and his brother, Jet, have appeared an unprecedented three times on the CBS-TV reality series ‚ÄúThe Amazing Race,‚ÄĚ most recently during the spring 2014 season. The McCoys have been fan favorites on the show since their first appearance in 2010. In fact, they were named Best Dynamic Duo for the 2014 CBS Fan Awards.
In addition to witnessing the true spectacle that is the PBR and seeing the association‚Äôs big names, this is a great opportunity for fans to meet one of the most well-known cowboys today.
DODGE CITY, Kan. ‚Äď Fans have come to expect nothing but greatness with the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.
Members of the volunteer committee that produce the annual event have come up with a topper in the form of the Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 29, at Roundup Arena.
‚ÄúWe looked at ways we could add to our rodeo, and we realized there was something with the Xtreme Bulls,‚ÄĚ Roundup chairman Dr. R.C. Trotter said, referring to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association‚Äôs bull riding-only events. ‚ÄúWe thought this was the perfect way to kick off a big week of rodeo in Dodge City.‚ÄĚ
Roundup is a big-time event in ProRodeo. Two years ago, it was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Each season, it regularly features a who‚Äôs who list of the sport‚Äôs greatest stars. In fact, there are so many bull riders that most performances feature two sections of bull riding ‚Äď one to start the show, and one to finish.
‚ÄúWe get a lot of bull riders every year, so we thought this was a great way to get the very best to show up one night,‚ÄĚ said Trotter, who, with his wife, Mary, is sponsoring the Xtreme Bulls with Glazer‚Äôs/Miller/Coors. ‚ÄúI think the fans will love it.‚ÄĚ
They should. The Roundup championship buckle is one of the most sought-after prizes in the sport; now the Xtreme Bulls championship will be another strong piece to a bull rider‚Äôs resume.
‚ÄúDodge City is one of the best rodeos all year,‚ÄĚ said Sage Kimzey, a ProRodeo rookie who has led the bull riding world standings much of the season. ‚ÄúI love that they are having an Xtreme Bulls event, and it sounds like the city of Dodge City and the sponsors have stepped up to make this great.
The one-night affair will feature a large purse, which is attractive to the contestants. Now in its 10th year, the Xtreme Bulls Tour features a place for the top bull riders in the game to showcase their talents against some of the rankest bulls in the sport. Forty bull riders will all compete in the first round, with the best scores advancing to the championship round. The best cumulative score on the two rides will be crowned the inaugural Dodge City Roundup Xtreme Bulls champion.
‚ÄúXtreme Bulls is a very good deal for the sport of rodeo,‚ÄĚ said Kimzey, 19, of Strong City, Okla. ‚ÄúBull riding has always been a fan-favorite event, and I‚Äôm not saying that just because I‚Äôm a bull rider. If you can bring it all together with the top 40 bull riders and some hometown guys, you understand why it‚Äôs such a good deal.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs great for the sport, great for the fans and great for the bull riders.‚ÄĚ
While Kimzey leads the world standings, four-time and reigning world champion J.W. Harris of Mullin, Texas, leads the Xtreme Bulls money list. Both are expected to be in the line-up when the show rolls into town. Kimzey, who won the Xtreme Bulls title in San Antonio earlier this year, is hoping he continues his string of solid performances.
‚ÄúMomentum is the most important thing in bull riding ad rodeo in general,‚ÄĚ said Kimzey, who earlier this month finished second at the College National Finals Rodeo. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs such a mind game. You can fail 50 percent of the time, and you‚Äôre still a good bull rider in today‚Äôs world.‚ÄĚ
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď J.W. Harris is a man on a mission.
Last season, the Mullin, Texas, cowboy rode his way to a fourth bull riding world championship, earning nearly $253,000 for the season. This year, he‚Äôs focused on gold buckle No. 5, which is why he will be part of all the action at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo ‚Äď first with the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5, then during the rodeo, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6-Saturday, Aug. 9, at Jake McClure Arena.
It‚Äôs a hectic week of non-stop action for one of the greatest bull riders in ProRodeo history.
‚ÄúYou can win a lot of money out of Lovington,‚ÄĚ said Harris, who in early July was No. 2 in the world standings. ‚ÄúThe last two year I finished pretty good in the bull riding and got thrown off my short-round bull at 7.9 seconds both times. You still win a lot of money at the bull riding, but then you turn right back around and have a chance to win money at the rodeo, too.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs a big week for us, especially with the other rodeos going on. A man can make a lot of money right there in a week.‚ÄĚ
Harris knows what it takes to make money, especially in southeastern New Mexico. Over the last two years, Harris has earned $9,362 at the Lea County Xtreme Bulls. Just imagine what could have happened had he finished off the final one-tenth of a second during the championship round.
‚ÄúDoing well is always good at the Xtreme Bulls because they pay so well, depending on how well you do in each of the rounds,‚ÄĚ said Harris, who has earned more than $45,000 in Xtreme Bulls this season, more than half of his earnings as of July 7.
‚ÄúIt helps you add a little bit of a cushion or make up a lot of ground in just one day, especially with the big-paying rodeos mostly being done by the time we get to Lovington. If you can win $15,000 out of Lovington, that just sets you up on the rest of the fall run.‚ÄĚ
The rodeo season runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30, and only the cowboys among the top 15 in earnings at the conclusion of the season earn the right to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which takes place at Las Vegas in December. Having big-money opportunities in August is critical for the contestants hoping to secure their spot at the year-end championship event.
It takes more than great cowboys to find success at that level; it takes great bulls, too. That‚Äôs where Pete Carr Pro Rodeo comes in. Not only will the Dallas-based livestock contractor provide some of the greatest bulls in the game at the Xtreme Bulls event, Carr also solicits other top-caliber bulls from other contractors to be in Lovington for the challenge.
‚ÄúWe have a tremendous lineup of bulls,‚ÄĚ Carr said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs going to be amazing with the caliber of bulls we have coming this year.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs why world champions and others from ProRodeo‚Äôs elite will take any means possible to be in Lovington for the event.
‚ÄúWith the Xtreme bull riders in Lovington, it should be something people will talk about for a while,‚ÄĚ Carr said. ‚ÄúI think this is something that will draw a lot of fans to town, because it‚Äôs going to be that good.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs what organizers have learned over the past two seasons and why Xtreme Bulls returns to town again this August.
‚ÄúWe thought it was an event that would go well with our fair and rodeo,‚ÄĚ said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. ‚ÄúWe think the people in this area would really enjoy it. Xtreme Bulls is a high-energy event that people in this area would turn out for.
‚ÄúWith the price of our fair and rodeo being just $8 for admission, we felt like it was an outstanding event we could give to a family for a very affordable price.‚ÄĚ
EAGLE, Colo. ‚Äď Cowboys have come to expect big things when they arrive for the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.
A big reason for that is the amazing livestock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock producer for the annual rodeo, set for Wednesday, July 23-Saturday, July 26, at Johnette Phillips Arena on the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
Over the years, cowboys and fans have come to expect high scores over the course of the four-night rodeo that rests along the picturesque Rocky Mountains.
‚ÄúThe cool thing about Eagle is everything bucks so well that you never know what‚Äôs going to win,‚ÄĚ said bareback rider Casey Colletti, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Pueblo, Colo.
The scores prove it. From the Ryan Gray-Grass Dancer match-up in 2009 that resulted in a world record-tying score of 94 points to rides regularly in the high 80s, Eagle is the perfect place for big-time rides.
‚ÄúEagle is a pretty special place, even if we‚Äôre just talking about the atmosphere,‚ÄĚ said Pete Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm. ‚ÄúThe animals just love the weather. It‚Äôs really cool for us as well when you figure we‚Äôre a Texas livestock company. Getting to go to Eagle in July from this kind of heat in Texas is a nice change for all of us.‚ÄĚ
Take last year‚Äôs performances, which featured a number of top scores from ProRodeo‚Äôs biggest stars. Jesse Wright, the 2012 world champion saddle bronc rider from Milford, Utah, won the rodeo on Carr‚Äôs Django, while three-time NFR qualifier Trevor Kastner of Ardmore, Okla., won the bull riding title on Carr‚Äôs One Bad Cat.
A pair of up-and-coming cowboys shared the bareback riding championship with big rides on two of the greatest bucking horses in the game. George Gillespie IV of Elgin, Ore., matched moves with Dirty Jacket, while third-year pro Richie Champion of The Woodlands, Texas, rode Scarlet‚Äôs Web.
Having great animal athletes is the key to all cowboys‚Äô success, and they know they‚Äôll have a good shot at a great payday with the Carr livestock in Eagle.
‚ÄúPete has our interests in line,‚ÄĚ said Champion, who has been among the top 10 in the world standings much of the 2014 season. ‚ÄúHe wants us to have good horses to get on. He‚Äôs put in a lot of time to get good horses together, and he has a lot. He has horses that are consistent. He‚Äôs one of the guys that have the top animals and hauls them all over the country to give us a chance to win.‚ÄĚ
Champion has earned a number of key victories over the last 12 months, including the championship in Guymon, Okla., this past May while aboard Fancy Free, a regular at the NFR. But it doesn‚Äôt matter whether it‚Äôs amazing bucking horses or bulls, Carr has them at every rodeo.
‚ÄúAnytime Pete Carr has a rodeo, you know the stock‚Äôs going to be great,‚ÄĚ said rookie Sage Kimzey, the No. 1 bull rider in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. ‚ÄúHis bull string is one of the best in the business.‚ÄĚ
Whenever the Carr team rolls into town, it‚Äôs a winning combination.
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď A walk around the Lea County Fairgrounds in early August reveals many sights, sounds and smells.
It‚Äôs robust and inspiring, and the sounds of fair-goers resonates across the complex on Lovington‚Äôs eastern edge. There are tasty treats and delicious meals; there are games and rides; and there are great acts that make up the daily entertainment schedule.
The Lea County Fair and Rodeo will feature daily entertainers from 5 p.m. to closing every night of the fair, from Aug. 1-9. This year‚Äôs lineup includes ventriloquist Kevin Johnson, the Equilibrium Circus and the Ham Bone Express Pig Races.
‚ÄúWe talk to people in the community about what they want to see at the fair, and we try to stay with that,‚ÄĚ said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board.
Ham Bone Express is operated by the Borger family, and they bring their action and comedy show to Lovington from northwest Arkansas. It‚Äôs funny, fun to watch and fast-paced, and the Borgers claim to have ‚ÄúThe Swiftest Swine Off the Line.‚ÄĚ It has four races with four pigs in each race, and the master of ceremonies keeps the crowd involved by assigning cheering sections, with each section having a designated ‚Äúrooter,‚ÄĚ or cheerleader.
‚ÄúThe thing I love about that is that he changes it up every year,‚ÄĚ Helton said of Charlie Borger, the emcee who operates the show with his wife, Carol. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs part of the show with the pigs. The people love him, and I can see why. If you sit down with him and talk to him, that‚Äôs just the way he is; he just cracks you up.‚ÄĚ
The tandem presents the ancient circus art of hand-to-hand with quirky twists as they perform a number of tricks and stunts that may not be seen anywhere else. They also add a little heat to the equation in the form of fire.
The Equilibrium Circus features the award-winning duo, who show off their athletic talent and creativity. With more than 30 years of combined experience, they have appeared in film, television, theater, street performance and live events.
Johnson, who started ventriloquism at age 9, has a pretty good pedigree, too. He was self-taught, but he was drawn to entertaining quite naturally ‚Äď his grandfather, Harley Noles, performed magic shows throughout Colorado and offered a spot in his lineup should Johnson develop his act well enough.
When Johnson was 13, he opened for his grandfather, performing for five minutes with a wooden puppet that his grandfather made him. Since then, he has appeared on ‚ÄúThe Late Show with David Letterman‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúAmerica‚Äôs Got Talent.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWe want to bring the acts to our fair and rodeo that the people of Lea County want to see,‚ÄĚ Helton said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs been very successful for us.‚ÄĚ
HORSEMANSHIP CHALLENGE WILL FEATURE TOP TRAINERS WORKING WITH YOUNG HORSES
CENTENNIAL, Colo. ‚Äď There is something beautiful and majestic about a horse, from its raw power to its sheer beauty in movement.
Russell Beatty first witnessed it as a child, and that‚Äôs when his passion for horses began to stir. It‚Äôs merged into a lifelong love and a hunger to work with horses.
You see, Beatty has worked with and trained horses all his life, and now he has developed the Colt Starting Challenge USA, an event that features some of the brightest trainers in the country who work with untrained horses in a competition.
‚ÄúThese are a competition between trainers,‚ÄĚ said Beatty, a native Texan now living in Hawaii. ‚ÄúEach trainer is matched with a horse on a random draw. The colts have not been started and have not ever been saddled or bridled. They have been unhandled most of the time.‚ÄĚ
The trainers will then work with the animals over the course of two two-hour sessions set up over two days, and judges will determine which of the trainers wins. The competitions will take place across the country, including one that begins at 6 p.m. Friday, July 25, and 5 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at the Friends of Horses Rescue Arena in Centennial.
‚ÄúWe will have two hours of work the first day with a half-hour break in between,‚ÄĚ Beatty said. ‚ÄúThis is all done with an audience, and each contestant has a microphone so that when it‚Äôs their time to talk, they can say what they‚Äôre doing and why they‚Äôre doing it.
‚ÄúThe second day has two 45-minute sessions with a break in between. After the second session, we tear down the round pens, set up our obstacle course and the contestants ride their horse through the obstacle course. The winner gets a buckle.‚ÄĚ
The contestants love the idea.
‚ÄúThe thing I like about it is that Russell cares about the people and the horses, and he just wants to make for a good competition,‚ÄĚ said Bob Mundy of Norco, Calif., who has competed in two events, including one victory. ‚ÄúHe wants to show people that there are different ways and different methods to colt-starting. It opens the public‚Äôs eye that if you do it in the correct manner, you can really start a colt in a short amount of time.‚ÄĚ
It also allows trainers to show their stuff and promote the work they do. That‚Äôs a valuable tool, especially for horse owners that are looking for someone who can work with well with their animals.
‚ÄúIn the first two days, the colt is able to learn new things really fast,‚ÄĚ said Victor Sundquist, 20, of Olathe, Colo., who has been training professionally for four years. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs amazing what you can do in the first hour. I‚Äôve actually been able to stand up on a horse in the first couple of hours.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs that type of progress that makes the Colt Starting Challenges a draw not only for competitors but also for horse-loving fans who come to see the trainers at work. They can take some of the lessons they learn inside the arena back home or consider utilizing one of the trainers with their animals. The shows are set up in a fan-friendly environment that makes each performance enlightening.
It‚Äôs a pretty good feature for Beatty, who began the idea on the islands a few years ago.
‚ÄúI had guys calling me, and they were wanting us to do them over here,‚ÄĚ he said of the mainland. ‚ÄúThere is a calling for them, so we are putting them on over here. The contestants love them, and the crowd loves them. People are seeing how you can really work with the horses and see that the horses respond better to this type of training.‚ÄĚ
Beatty was raised near San Antonio in the community of Helotes, Texas. He competed in rodeo and attended college in Sheridan, Wyo., on a rodeo scholarship, where he studied ranch management. He continued to compete in rodeo ‚Äď riding bulls and saddle broncs and roping calves ‚Äď until he was 42.
If there‚Äôs something to be done on a horse, Beatty has done it. He now enjoys the theory of natural horsemanship in working with animals, which is how he developed the Colt Starting Challenge for competition.
‚ÄúI first attended a colt starting challenge put on by a top rated horse clinician,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI was intrigued and amazed by what I saw. The trainers‚Äô methods simplified and sped up the process of gentling a horse.‚ÄĚ
The theory is being put to work nationwide.
‚ÄúI really enjoy it and think it‚Äôs awesome,‚ÄĚ said Sundquist, who works with his father in training horses. ‚ÄúI got involved mostly because it was something new and something different. Partially it‚Äôs for the advertising for me.‚ÄĚ
It has been a powerful tool for the competitors in their own promotion.
‚ÄúFor anybody that does this, our goal is to promote how we go about it,‚ÄĚ Mundy said. ‚ÄúI like colt starting because I like being able to start horses and get them a good foundation. The first few days with a horse makes all the difference in a horse.
‚ÄúThe people who come to these events can see the different methods coming together. They can see the different things going on. I really see the Colt Starting Challenge growing and making something positive. I think it‚Äôs something that‚Äôs needed. What I really like about it is, in the competitions I did, everybody was really helpful. We‚Äôre there to support each other. We want everybody to succeed.‚ÄĚ
That is a key factor in what Beatty has developed. The challenges are a comradery-based system, because all the competitors are after the same goal; they just go about it in different ways. A major ingredient is natural horsemanship, which uses a horse‚Äôs instincts and methods of communication. Horses don‚Äôt learn through fear or pain; instead they learn from pressure and the release of pressure.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we‚Äôre showing that there are other ways to do this,‚ÄĚ Beatty said, noting that there is a need for more young horses or colts that have been unhandled to be part of the Centennial event. ‚ÄúPeople are coming to it, and they really like it.‚ÄĚ
In fact, the growth has allowed Beatty to create a Colt Starting Challenge USA finals, which will take place during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Fan Fest in December in Las Vegas.
‚ÄúIn order to make it to our finals, they will have to have competed in at least two of our events, and we will take the top eight,‚ÄĚ Beatty said. ‚ÄúWe will do it over three days, where the third day is all the contestants doing the obstacle course at the same time.‚ÄĚ
The finale also is an attractive enticement for trainers to be part of the challenges.
‚ÄúI like the fact that he‚Äôs already talking about having a finals,‚ÄĚ Sundquist said. ‚ÄúThis is a good sign that something big is about to happen.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs happening July 25-26 in Centennial.
DODGE CITY, Kan. ‚Äď In all the years Justin Rumford has been to Dodge City, he‚Äôs been to just one performance of Dodge City Roundup Rodeo.
That changes this year, when he will be one of the featured acts at the annual rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 30-Sunday, Aug. 3, at Roundup Arena. This year‚Äôs rodeo also features and Xtreme Bulls Tour competition, which will take place at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 29.
‚ÄúI worked in Dodge City every summer when I was in college as the stage coach driver at Boot Hill,‚ÄĚ said Rumford, who grew up in a rodeo family in Abbyville, Kan., just 100 miles east of Dodge City. ‚ÄúWhen I steer wrestled, I was always in slack and never competed in a performance. The only performance I ever went to was when I drove the stage coach into the arena.‚ÄĚ
Rumford is a rodeo entertainer and clown, and he‚Äôs pretty good at it, too. The last two years, he was recognized as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association‚Äôs clown of the year. This past December, he was recognized as the 2013 Coors Man in the Can, the top honor for rodeo barrelmen.
In Dodge City, he will share the arena with the sport‚Äôs greatest stars and another amazing act, California-based Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, which will showcase trick riding, trick roping and roman riding skills; they were nominated for the PRCA‚Äôs dress act of the year in 2011 and 2013.
‚ÄúOur committee has worked very hard to bring the top talent in ProRodeo to Dodge City, and we‚Äôre very excited to have Justin and the Riata Ranch girls with us this year,‚ÄĚ said Dr. R.C. Trotter, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. ‚ÄúThis will be the third time the girls have performed at our rodeo, and they‚Äôve always done an outstanding job.
‚ÄúHaving Justin at our rodeo is special because he grew up in Kansas.‚ÄĚ
There isn‚Äôt a job in rodeo that Rumford hasn‚Äôt done. His grandfather, Floyd, founded Rumford Rodeo Co., and he was involved in the family business from the time he was in diapers. Now the Kansas cowboy has found his niche, bringing a comedic personality to the arena. It‚Äôs paid off quite well.
‚ÄúIt really means a lot to me to be able to work Dodge City,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWhen I talked to Dr. Trotter, I was so excited, especially since Lance Brittan was one of my biggest heroes when I was growing up, and he still fights bulls there.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs so much history in Dodge City. When I ran the stage coach, I stayed at the arena every night through the summer. That is just a first-class committee, and they roll out the red carpet for you.‚ÄĚ
The red carpet is equally on display for fans, whether its rodeo‚Äôs biggest names battling for the large purse or Rumford‚Äôs side-splitting comedy or the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls‚Äô Western showmanship.
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt just trick ride or rope,‚ÄĚ said Jennifer Welch Nicholson, who runs the operation. ‚ÄúWe actually work with choreography, so we have a full production. We really work on timing and production and making the show make sense to the audience.
‚ÄúWe combine the trick riding, roping and roman riding in one sequence.‚ÄĚ
That combination has earned the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls grand acclaim. They are known worldwide for their work and have traveled to 18 countries ‚Äď and all across the United States ‚Äď performing.
‚ÄúThe Cowboy Girls is the main team,‚ÄĚ Welch Nicholson said. ‚ÄúThis is our third time back to Dodge City. We will have six of us there.‚ÄĚ
Being a two-time nominee for the PRCA‚Äôs dress act award is a tremendous honor for her and the rest of the team.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs wonderful to think that our peers think enough of our show to nominate us,‚ÄĚ Welch Nicholson said. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of great talent out there.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm very happy for the girls who put in their time and the hard work, because what we do takes a lot of hard work and dedication.‚ÄĚ
It also provides a great deal of entertainment to rodeo fans.
‚ÄúI think our audience is going to enjoy everything that will happen at our rodeo this year,‚ÄĚ Trotter said. ‚ÄúIt certainly makes it exciting for us.‚ÄĚ
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď Kaley Bass likes Jake McClure Arena.
Each of the past two seasons, the Florida-born cowgirl has raced through the Lovington stadium in route to the Lea County Fair and Rodeo‚Äôs barrel racing titles and back-to-back qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
She expected to be in the mix to make it a three-peat at this year‚Äôs rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6-Saturday, Aug. 9. In fact, she is one of 10 reigning champions who should be on hand to defend their titles, joining bareback rider Jessy Davis, steer wrestler K.C. Jones, steer roper J.P. Wickett, bull rider Corey Navarre, tie-down roper Jesse Clark, team ropers Chace Thompson and Jayton McCright and saddle bronc riders Cody Wright and Jake Wright.
That‚Äôs a strong list of rodeo‚Äôs greatest stars. In fact, seven of the 2013 Lea County champions have qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
‚ÄúI think it says something about our rodeo that we get so many NFR qualifiers to Lovington every year,‚ÄĚ said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. ‚ÄúI think it also says a lot about the elite contestants in our sport that they continue to perform at such a high level every year.‚ÄĚ
The Lea County Fair and Rodeo is part of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour, which is an attractive feature for ProRodeo‚Äôs biggest names. Hundreds of rodeo cowboys and cowgirls make their way to southeastern New Mexico every August, including many world champions.
Take Cody Wright, a two-time saddle bronc riding world champion from Milford, Utah. He won ProRodeo gold in 2008 and 2010. He is the oldest of six Wrights competing in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, including younger twins Jesse and Jake, who have qualified for the NFR; in fact, Jesse Wright earned the 2012 world championship.
The youngest PRCA competitor is Cody Wright‚Äôs son, Rusty, who leads the rookie saddle bronc riding standings. The fact that Cody shared the 2013 Lovington title with Jake is proof of the family‚Äôs talent.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs nice to go to a rodeo and have really good horses for everybody,‚ÄĚ Jake said after posting an 87-point ride on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo‚Äôs Miss Molly, the same score Cody posted on Carr‚Äôs Mike & Ike. ‚ÄúThe stock contractor here has the kind of caliber that it‚Äôs really a riding contest and not a drawing contest.
‚ÄúEither I‚Äôm riding better or drawing better; maybe both.‚ÄĚ
Jake Wright utilized the victory to earn a second straight berth to the NFR, the season-ending championship that takes place each December in Las Vegas, where he made a solid run toward the 2013 world championship. He finished second in the world standings, but he won the hearts of many fans with his performance throughout last season.
And just like the other nine Lea County Fair and Rodeo reigning champions, expect to see him back in Lovington in August.
LOVINGTON, N.M. ‚Äď When Corey Helton‚Äôs daughter, Megan, was younger, she was actively involved in livestock showing.
Primarily she showed lambs and goats, but she also spent a couple years showing pigs. It takes a lot of work and a lot of care to get animals ready. It also takes a supportive family.
Enter Helton, who went from assisting his daughter to being involved in the community by serving as a volunteer at the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo, which will take place Aug. 1-9 at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been associated with the fair for about 15 years since my daughter started showing,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve been around the fair in Lovington all these years. It was a way of life. When Megan stopped showing, this was a way to continue to give back. I‚Äôm just trying to keep the fair in the direction and the atmosphere that it‚Äôs always been.‚ÄĚ
His commitment to the exposition is why he is serving as chairman of the fair board.
‚ÄúThe flagship event for the county is the Lea County Fair and Rodeo,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs that one week a year that everybody comes together and catches up. Without the citizens here, I don‚Äôt think we could do it. The support from them is unbelievable, especially in terms of the financial support. What other support we need, we seem to have it.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs the way volunteerism works, and it‚Äôs a key reason the expo is so successful. It takes a boatload of volunteers to make a community event like that happen, especially in a county that‚Äôs as large as Lea County, which sits in New Mexico‚Äôs southeastern corner.
‚ÄúWe have our fair board, which is appointed by the county commission,‚ÄĚ Helton said. ‚ÄúWe have subcommmittees, like the rodeo committee and the entertainment committee. All the fair board members chair at least one of these committees. The fair board meets once a month, then the committees will have their meetings.
‚ÄúWe have a lot of very dedicated people who give a lot of time to make this a great event every year.‚ÄĚ
Helton is one of them. As chairman, he attends all the committee gatherings and also meets with the Lea County Commission once or twice a month to keep commissioners updated on the goings-on. It takes great commitment to follow through all these duties.
‚ÄúWhen the fair comes and I see all the hard work throughout the year paying off to the caliber of the fair, I think that‚Äôs greater than any salary than I could get,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs hard to explain, but when you consider that there are so many things going on in the fair, and I realize I had a hand in this.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs unbelievable seeing it all come together. We have a whole year of work, and it comes together in one week.‚ÄĚ
Helton grew up in northwest Wyoming, then joined the military, where he spent eight years in the U.S. Army. He moved to Lea County for a career in law enforcement. He just retired after 20 years with the Hobbs Police Department. His wife, Marilyn, grooms dogs.
Most importantly, they have made their home in this part of the country, and volunteering is a big part of what makes Corey Helton tick.
‚ÄúEven though my daughter is done showing, I still like the livestock shows,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs the bread and butter of the Lea County Fair. I think the rodeo and the concerts are a plus, but we cannot lose sight of what this fair represents, and that is the hard work that the kids do.‚ÄĚ
Helton‚Äôs passion for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo is evident in just about everything he does. Most importantly, it‚Äôs the smile he wears as he walks through the Lea County Fairgrounds in early August.
GUYMON, Okla. ‚Äď The Professional Bull Riders tour is home to many of the world‚Äôs greatest bull riders.
A good portion of those are making their way to the Oklahoma Panhandle for the Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational PBR Touring Pro event, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena in Guymon.
‚ÄúIf the fans have ever been to a PBR, they know how it goes,‚ÄĚ said Hayes, a five-time PBR World Finals qualifier from Liberal, Kan., just 40 miles northeast of Guymon. ‚ÄúI think they should expect to see the best bull riders and the best bulls.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs just what organizers wanted in this inaugural event in Texas County, Okla. The livestock will be provided by D&H Cattle Co. of Ardmore, Okla., one of the premier livestock producers in the PBR and ProRodeo. D&H has been named PBR stock contractor of the year, and its top bull, Shepherd Hills Tested, was named the 2013 Bull of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôve got a phenomenal breeding program, and they come out with a new really rank bull every year,‚ÄĚ Hayes said.
The bulls are just one piece of the puzzle to having a high-quality event. Both Hayes and Wing are expecting many of the biggest names in the PBR to ride in Guymon during the one-night spectacular.
‚ÄúI think what we‚Äôve got something good to offer the contestants, and it‚Äôs one I‚Äôd want to go to,‚ÄĚ said Wing, a four-time PBR World Finals qualifier from Dalhart, Texas. ‚ÄúWith Kasey and I both being bull riders and living close to Guymon, I think it should be good.‚ÄĚ
Wing and Hayes are good. In addition to a strong history in the game, they‚Äôre having outstanding seasons. Wing is ranked 19th in the PBR world standings points race, while Hayes is 11th. Wing has earned $85,950 this season, and Hayes has pocketed $61,915.
‚ÄúI think fans should expect something similar to a televised event,‚ÄĚ Wing said, referring to the PBR Built Ford Tough Series, the association‚Äôs premier tour. ‚ÄúAs long as everybody‚Äôs healthy, there are quite a few of the top guys that are planning to be there.‚ÄĚ
That bodes well for fans, but there are equally outstanding enticements for the cowboys. The purse will feature a minimum of $20,000 in local money, which will be added to the entry fees to tally the total prize.
‚ÄúWhen you add a lot of money, it‚Äôs easy for the guys to want to come,‚ÄĚ Hayes said.
Both cowboys are following in the footsteps of their bull riding fathers.
‚ÄúMy dad had rode bulls, so I always wanted to ride bulls,‚ÄĚ Hayes said. ‚ÄúI was the kid at the local rodeo watching the bull riding. I never grew out of that stage.
‚ÄúMy dad took me to every junior rodeo and every open bull riding there was; whatever we could get to, we went.‚ÄĚ\
Wing grew up on his family‚Äôs ranch 18 miles north of Dalhart, where they raise quarter horses.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been around it my whole life,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI started when I was 4 years old. It was a little Memorial Day event. I went out there and got on my first steer; the rest is history.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs been a pretty good start for the 25-year-old cowboy, who has earned nearly $340,000 since joining the PBR six seasons ago. He has spent much of the summer break from the premier tour working at home, where he continues to work on the breeding program established by his grandfather.
‚ÄúBesides bull riding, that‚Äôs my next love,‚ÄĚ he said of working with horses. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs what I‚Äôll do when I retire, become a horseman and show these horses.‚ÄĚ
Of course, there is some unfinished business he must tend to first.
‚ÄúFor sure I want to finish in the top 10 and possibly be up there for a world title race,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúMy ultimate goal is to be a world champion, and I will be; it‚Äôs just a matter of time.‚ÄĚ
That goal is shared by just about every cowboy in the world. How they go about it depends on the man.
‚ÄúI want to show up and ride consistently,‚ÄĚ Hayes said. ‚ÄúWhen I show up, I‚Äôm showing up to win. I‚Äôm expecting to win everywhere I go. I may not win first every time, but I want to place, and I‚Äôm going to give it everything I‚Äôve got to make it happen.‚ÄĚ
For either cowboy, winning the Kasey Hayes & Stormy Wing Invitational would be a great way to continue that momentum.