Dec 13, 2020 – Maple Creek, SK
We’re going in the right direction. It’s not long ago I had to drive to a neighbour’s to watch the NFR. They had an American dish (illegal), and ESPN broadcast the NFR. It was scheduled to start at 10 pm, but when a college basketball went into overtime, we waited. When it finally came on, maybe half an hour late, we missed lots of rides and runs because of advertisements. Eventually, long after midnight, I made the trek home. Did anybody else notice the distinct lack of advertisements in this year’s broadcast? It was great.
I’m glad it’s over.
They always say ‘The NFR is a marathon, not a sprint,’ and I believe it because my typing finger is sore and showing signs of fatigue. Doing two or three blogs a day for ten days was taxing for the index finger of this old hayseed’s right hand.
Because of a re-ride, we didn’t know who won the Bareback Riding until after Steer Wrestling and Team Roping Champions were declared.
In the Steer Wrestling, Jacob Edler won both the Average and World Titles. Curtis Cassidy, the lone Canadian in the doggin’ had a tough Finals and placed in one round. But his World Champion Steer Wrestling Horse Tyson paid the bills with mount money. Between Matt Reeves, Blake Knowles and Jesse Brown they won or split five rounds on him. Matt started the NFR riding his own horse, then switched after two rounds he didn’t start riding Tyson until Round three, I’m sure he’s wondering, ‘What if.’
Team Roping was not kind to Canadians Levi Simpson and Kolton Schmidt in Round 10 or, for that matter, most of the rodeo. With two ropers, two horses, one steer and a barrier there are a lot of moving parts, throw in the new set-up, and it seemed some guys adapted quicker than others.
World Champions Colby Lovell and Paul Eaves adapted best and won or split the last three rounds to blaze to the title. Erich Rogers and Paden Bray won the Average.
Now to that re-ride. Kaycee Field took it, scored 91 points and won his fifth World title. Only two other men have won five Bareback titles, Joe Alexander and Bruce Ford. Young Jess Pope served notice when he won the Average. Despite all my pre-game hoopla, Orin Larsen was in over his head. Calgary’s A-91 Agent Lynx beat him up, bucked him off and stole his lunch money — in a hurry. Orin did, however, hang in there for (8th) last hole in the Average.
Jake Brown rode Northcott/Macza’a 118 OLS Tubs Stevie Knicks to 87 points and fifth place. Tanner Aus appeared to struggle riding Vern McDonald’s big F13 Virgil. He scored 83 points for no money. I don’t think it was any fun.
Now to the Saddle Bronc Riding and the gifted Ryder Wright won both the Average and the World. There was some drama, but that fizzled when season leader, Wyatt Casper’s bronc Womanizer had a bad day. Zeke Thurston scored 87 and tied for 4/5 with Lefty Holman on Calgary’s S-83 Special Delivery. The Stampede’s S-66 Stampede Warrior bedded down Isaac Diaz. Zeke ended up pulling a hefty cheque for fourth in the Average.
I’m a tad too young to remember Casey Tibbs, so the best bronc rider I ever saw was Kenny McLean, by a country mile. Thank goodness he came along when he did because the way these clowns are judging now, he’d starve out and go home.
How can you hand out 24 points for the ride when the guy was flopping around like a 1990s bareback rider? Saddle Bronc Riding has always been referred to as ‘The Classic Event.’ I’m sorry, but I see nothing classic about a guy whipping back and forth on a horse. You’ve already marked the bronc higher than the rest, so how can you hand out 24 points for his ride when several guys that out-spurred him were awarded 21 or 22 points? You’re paying him twice for the bronc. The classic bronc rider is supposed to sit up and take charge — then it’s pretty!
Second-generation NFR Tie-Down Roper Shad Mayfield led the standings virtually all year. It’s a good thing because his tenth calf didn’t remain tied, got up early and Mayfield received a no time. When the computers finally quit buzzing, he’d won the World by about $200 bucks. While all that was going on it was cut and dried that Shane Hanchey had won the Average. When he was presented with his trophy saddle and Average Buckle he was handed the mic and talked about how fortunate he was to ride a horse like T.J. and thanked Logan and Manerd Bird for the privilege. Hanchey picked up a fifth-place cheque in Round 10. As I posted last night, I believe that this is the first time a Canadian owned Tie-Down horse had won the NFR Average since 1977 when the late Jim Gladstone won it all in Oklahoma City.
The only drama in the Barrel Racing was ‘Who’d be second?’ Hailey Kinsel won the World, the Average and The Top Gun Award (a new truck) but she didn’t win the round last night, Stevie Hillman did. Sometime during the NFR Lisa Lockhart surpassed Sherri Cervi as the top money winner of the NFR in the lady’s event. As the graphic scrolled by, I saw Lindsay Sears’ name in maybe fourth or fifth spot.
In the Bull Riding, four guys still had a shot at the World title. When the smoke cleared, Stetson Wright won fourth in the round and the World title. Coltan Fritzlan rode Outlaw Buckers’ Brahma Boots Chrome to 87 points for fifth in the round and first in the Average. Brady Portenier won third on the day with 90 points on Northcott/Macza’s 15 Sunny.
Stetson Wright kept the All-Around title in the Roughstock end of the arena for the second year in a row.
Now a Nod to Rodeo History: The Wright’s are the first brothers to win two events the same year IN THE NFR ERA. This distinction is important.
In 1945, brothers Bud Linderman & Bill Linderman of Red Lodge, Montana, won the World Champion Bareback Rider and World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider respectively. So yes, the Wright’s are the first brothers to win two events the same year, since the first NFR was held in Dallas in 1959.
Now, I want to thank Terri Mason for the many hours she spent fixing my drabble. [You’re welcome—TM] Terri is the editor of Canadian Cowboy Country magazine, and she posted and attached photos to all my stuff, I just sent her a Word document, and she made it look good. Rob Tanner owns the magazine, and I want to thank him for allowing an old reprobate to vent in cyberspace.
My final appraisal? God Bless Texas! When it returns there and it will, I hope to be able to get my old carcass down there, it looked great.