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RAPID CITY, S.D. â€“ Much has happened in the inaugural season of the United Bucking Horse Association.
â€śWe had 11 events this year all across the country and in Canada,â€ť said Guy French, the UBHAâ€™s executive director. â€śItâ€™s been an amazing year for us, and itâ€™s just getting better.â€ť
In fact, now members of the organization are gearing up for the UBHA World Finals, set for 5 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time) Friday, Nov. 14, at the Central States Fairgrounds in Rapid City.
â€śHaving this world finals in our first year of existence is huge for the UBHA,â€ť French said. â€śThe UBHA grew faster than we anticipated, but this is a great thing for us.â€ť
The UBHA was created as a way to showcase younger bucking horses and to allow for anyone who is interested to be a horse owner. The colts do not have riders but are bucked with a mechanical dummy to allow the horses the opportunity to develop with age. The idea is catching on quite well.
â€śI feel the UBHA is the right director for breeders, especially the small breeders, because they can get their horses out there and compete against each other,â€ť said Darcy Hollingsworth, a UBHA shareholder and board member who has raised several top horses that have performed at some of the top events in the country, including the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
â€śWeâ€™re not relying on anybody else to show our animals.â€ť
Now those owners will get to showcase their horses during an event specifically designed to be the marquee event in the association. At each event, the 2- and 3-year-old horses accumulate points by how well they placed. The top 25 in each age division who have earned the right through the season-long qualifying will buck during the UBHA World Finals.
â€śTo be in the first year and to be able to have that kind of money to compete for is incredible,â€ť said Kenny Andrews, a former rodeo cowboy who owns several horses with his wife, Keri. â€śCan you imagine what the next couple of years are going to be like? To have that much interest in the first year is pretty exciting.
â€śIâ€™m glad we got in on the ground floor. I hope this isnâ€™t the last year we get to qualify. You know that each year the competition is just going to keep getting tougher.â€ť
Thatâ€™s OK for the Andrewses. With a bit of interest, they took in the Simon Bucking Stock Sale in Guthrie, Okla., this past January and quickly found a passion for raising bucking horses.
â€śItâ€™s addicting,â€ť said Kenny Andrews, who raised his colts near Vernal, Utah. â€śI was going to start with two horses. It hasnâ€™t even been a year since Simonâ€™s Sale, and Iâ€™ve got probably 20 head.â€ť
Itâ€™s that type of momentum that has helped the UBHA grow.
â€śThe whole thing is due to Guy Frenchâ€™s vision,â€ť said Hollingsworth of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. â€śGuy has worked very hard for this, and there have been a lot of good things happen. Thatâ€™s how the finals came about. The board of directors is an upbeat, positive bunch of guys. Everybodyâ€™s working in the same direction, so it makes it easy to have a finals.â€ť
The proof comes to Rapid City in just a few weeks.