Count Down to the Wrangler NFR

A Pinch Of Rodeo
By Joe R. Nichols
Count Down to the Wrangler NFR

Trevor Brazile won his fourth Steer Roping Championship Nov. 9th & 10 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, OK. Trailing Rocky Patterson of Pratt, KS, going in to the final go-round, Brazile tied the fastest steer of the 10 round finals with a smoking 9 seconds flat. He won four go-rounds in all, overtaking the lead by earning $26,462.

This title marks his 19th overall World Championship, tying him with “The Legend”, Guy Allen of Lovington, NM. A tie that will be broken in December.

For the All-Around Championship, Trevor’s winnings of $255,187, leads his closest competitor, Tuff Cooper, better than $120,000. Trevor has qualified for the NFR in tie down roping and heading, the only two-event cowboy at this year’s final. Cooper is certainly capable of winning over $120,000, but it won’t be enough to overcome what Trevor accumulates. This is the only title race that is a virtual lock, and Trevor Brazile will win his 11th All-Around and 20th World title. He is also a contender in his other two events for those titles as well, and could surpass 5 million in career winnings. Regardless, with a record twenty Championships, he is the most winning cowboy in PRCA history.

The Steer Wrestling is probably the closest contested event every year. Those guys are so evenly matched and tightly positioned together by the money standings. However, this year they are spread out a little more. The range goes from Casey Martin with $108,938, down to the 15th hole at $50,000. The top three have separated themselves somewhat from the rest with Trevor Knowles seven thousand back of Martin, and Pampa,TX native Matt Reeves eleven thousand back of Trevor.

It’s still anybody’s game when you consider each of the ten go-round pays nearly $19,000, and the average win will pay almost $50,000. Casey Martin has led all year long, but I have a feeling this is going to be the year for Trevor Knowles. He is physically awesome, and I believe his experience competing in his previous NFR’s are going to make the difference for him.

Thanks for reading. Next week I’ll make some more comments and predictions.

Going to school

A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols


Going to school

I went to my first bronc riding school at 18 years of age as a freshman in college. Taught by Lyle and Ike Sankey, it was a three-day event that benefited me immensely.

Since age converted me to a team roper, I have attended numerous roping schools. You have to have high credentials to put on a school. These are people who have achieved great success, or are making their living at what they are teaching.

However, I have been around some of the most talented and accomplished cowboys in the world, that couldn’t teach you how to tie your shoe. Some folks have such a natural talent for doing something, they don’t even know how they accomplish it. Therefore, they are at a loss at how to explain the method to someone else.

In contrast, I’ve never encountered a published author that I couldn’t learn  from. They all seem to have the ability to pass along valuable, helpful, information. They are willing to encourage your given voice, without imposing their own style as the only correct way of writing.

I’m grateful for the talent I’m surrounded by in my critique group, and the other contacts I’ve made through Jodi Thomas and her Writers Academy at WTAMU.

I intend to keep learning and improving in my writing and roping. I just wish some cowboys could express what they know as well as authors.

First Professional Rodeo

A Pinch of Rodeo

First Professional Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols

In 1982, I competed in my first professional rodeo. It was over the forth of July in Pecatonica, Illinois, produced by Barnes Rodeo Company.

I called the central entry system for my stock draw, and they gave me a number, no name. The number meant nothing to me. When I got there and paid my entry fees to Mrs. Barnes, she excitedly said, “Oh, you have Crystal Springs.”

“Is that a good one?” I asked in my naive permit holder state of mind.

“Oh yes! She was bucking horse of the year in ’77.”

Now, you might think this would make me a little nervous, but you’d be wrong. I was terrified out of my mind. A wheat whacker farm boy from Kansas getting on one of the best broncs in pro-rodeo? Yes, I was scared.

I found Lyle Sankey to ask him about her. Lyle had been to the National Finals several times, and I knew him a little bit. “She aint no good.” he said.

Once again my inexperience showed through. “Really?” I said. I learned later Lyle never missed the opportunity to kid someone. “No, she’s not any good at all. Unless you want to win first, then she’s pretty good.”

I was too dumb and confused to see much humor at the time. Then he let me off the hook. “No, you’ll love her. She’ll be a little honky right out of there, but after that, she’s a day off.”

Still stunned from the challenge, I returned to my gear to get ready. Then a gentleman rode up to me on a black horse. “Are you the one that has Crystal Springs?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Here’s her halter.” He handed me a beautiful leather halter with a silver plate on the nose band. It read; CRYSTAL SPRINGS, 1977 PRCA BUCKING HORSE OF THE YEAR. I tried not to act psyched out as he explained to me that I would be last to go, and that they would spend some time telling the crowd about this mare. He would tell me when to saddle her.

The portable arena was set up on a race track and there was no room behind the bucking chutes. I stood in the corner with my saddle waiting for them to load her. They bucked all the other broncs, and they still hadn’t put her in the chute. I mean, I’m up! It’s my turn to ride, and my horse in standing in the back pen. Lyle must have seen the panic on my face, and came to my rescue. “Hey, don’t worry about this deal. they’re going to give you plenty of time. No body’s going to rush you. You won’t believe how long they’ll talk about this horse. They’re going to talk about her, they’re going to talk about you,,, well, mostly they’re going to talk about her.

He made me laugh, and at that moment, I finally gained some composer. I dropped my saddle, and relaxed. The announcer went blah, blah, blah, for ever. Finally they ran her in. Mr. Barnes gave me strict instructions. “You can put your halter on her son, but don’t saddle her ’till I tell you.” On and on it went. I can’t remember a word said about her, but they must have started the day she was born and told every detail of her whole life. They were some kind of proud of this mare.

I could only assume this bronc would be double rank. She really was strong the first four jumps, but not rank. She then bailed so high in the air, I couldn’t believe it, I went after her like I was killing snakes. At the six-second mark, I finally realized how nice she was. I slowed things down and rode her right the last few seconds. I reached down with my free hand and waited for the pickup man. She had bucked in a straight line, and hadn’t traveled 100 feet. I looked over as the pickup man got in position, and I saw the crown of his hat  a long, long, way below me.

Another bronc rider rode the mare in an earlier performance, and won the rodeo. I could have rode her better and possibly won second, but I was proud to ride such a great horse and apply my first winnings to my permit. I placed forth, and won $120.

Focus – Chicago 1986

A Pinch of Rodeo

By Joe R. Nichols


Focus – Chicago 1986

My rookie year of professional rodeo had not gone well. Most of the winter stock show rodeos were over, and I hadn’t won a dime. I planned to change my luck at Chicago.

Candy was a big stout mare that had been to the National Finals several times and I always craved getting on her. I knew she would fit me, and now it was going to be my turn to cash in.

It was a nice sunny day, and we were there plenty early for that final afternoon performance. My traveling partners and I loitered out in the parking lot for a good while, visiting and watching the planes coming in. The coliseum was real close to O’Hara Airport. Those big jets were stacked up in the sky for as far as you could see. Everyone was in a good mood, relaxed, and ready to win. Especially me.

Behind the bucking chutes as we prepared to ride, one of the top bronc riders gave me some advice. “Remember, she gets stronger right at the end.”

I always finished strong myself, so I wasn’t too concerned.

With everything going perfect, I only had one and a half seconds to go. Shoulders square, under my rein, in rhythm, getting a good holt with my spurs. No way she could buck me off. I definitely was going to win first. I started to wonder how many points the judges would mark me. I thought about all that money and how it would spend. I could already hear the crowd cheering.

She got me. I lost focus for a blink, and she got me.

A person has to finish each job at hand without getting distracted.