The Athens Review
The PRCA Stampede Rodeo in Athens is billed as a smaller riding and roping contest.
However, it is conducted during a time of the year when there are no large rodeos in session. In late April, there are no big Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association shows such as Denver, San Antonio of Cheyenne, Wyo.
Those upper level rodeos are conducted in the winter and summer months. Throughout the spring, higher paying rodeos are scarce.
Therefore, a smaller rodeo such as Athens’ PRCA Stampede, which was scheduled for this weekend at the Henderson County Regional Fairpark Complex, lured former world champions and former qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
For example, two-time world barrel racing champion Lindsay Sears signed up to compete. Former National Finals qualifiers Matt Reeves (steer wrestling), Scott Kormos (tie-down roping), and Chris Harris (bareback riding) also entered the 2013 Athens rodeo.
If the Athens rodeo was conducted in July, when there are lots of higher paying rodeos in the northern and western states, it probably wouldn’t draw Sears or Kormos who both have Texas residences. During that time of the year, the sport’s elite frequently are on the card at the more lucrative rodeos in cities such as Reno, Nev., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Cheyenne.
In Cheyenne, a prize winning rider might earn more than $10,000. But in Athens, a winning cowboy might pocket $1,000.
With all that in mind, the Athens rodeo organizers must be credited for scheduling the PRCA Stampede during an off-peak time. Organizers also are aware that lots of world class competitors live in Texas and some of them will enter the Athens rodeo during a slower time of the regular season, which gives fans the opportunity to see credentialed cowboys and cowgirls ride in rural America.
Cutting horse update
When the title was at stake at the National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes, the cattle were tough and it was very difficult to produce an eye-catching score.
A field of 24 horses worked in the April 20 open division finals at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, and no horse was marked in the elite 220s.
It was the cutting horse equivalent of the 6-3 NFL postseason win, or similar to a 1-0 victory in the major league playoffs. But this was the Super Stakes, which is the second jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series, and serious cutting horse fans were watching with great interest.
After the last cow was cut, Wesley Galyean, of Claremore, Okla., and a gelding named Hes A Hot Cat clinched the open title with a 219 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. The victory earned Don Gilbert, a Louisianan, the coveted $100,000 prize.
Murchison rider Lee Francois and Desire A Lil Pepto tied for ninth with a 214. The strong finish earned owner Reagan Lancaster of Plano $21,866. In 2010, Francois won the Super Stakes on Reys Desire.
It also was tough to earn a big score in the 2013 Super Stakes non-pro finals. After the field of 20 horses had worked, Ray Baldwin of Fort Worth and a mare named Shesa Hollywoodcat clinched the title after turning in a 216.5. Baldwin earned $28,355
A big loss
Former PRCA bareback rider William “Buck” Uptmor was among the 14 people who were killed in the April 17 explosion that destroyed a fertilizer plant in West. According to the PRCA, Uptmor, 44, was helping a friend move some horses out of a pasture near the plant.
Into the Hall
RodeoHouston was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame on April 20 in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Two-time world steer roping champion Roy “Tuffy” Thompson of Happy was also honored.
Steer roping update
J.P. Wickett of Sallisaw, Okla., won the PRCA’s April 20-21 Chute Help National Circuit Finals Steer Roping in Torrington, Wyo. He earned $8,352.
Ranchers in Abilene
The 29th Western Heritage Classic, which features a ranch rodeo, is scheduled for May 9-11 in Abilene. For more information, visit westernheritageclassic.com.
Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has written a rodeo column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram over the past quarter century. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.