Bareback riding champion – Jared Smith
Jared Smith is the 2011 Buffalo Bill Rodeo Bareback Riding Champion.
It wasn’t Smith’s first trip on the horse, but it was his best. In 2010, he drew Wonderland during the short go-round of theAustin,Texasrodeo, where he scored 79 points, which placed, but didn’t provide a first place finish. His ride inNorth Plattewas better. “She really bucked that day,” he recalled. “I just kind of kept up with her, and she got most of the points.”
Smith, who lives inCross Plains,Texas, grew up inFloridabut moved to theLoneStarStateto be closer to more rodeos. When he’s not on the rodeo road, he shoes horses, and enjoys hog hunting.
Last year was Smith’s third time to compete at the North Platte rodeo.
Saddle bronc riding co-champion – Steven Dent
Saddle bronc rider Steven Dent got a bit of revenge at last year’s Buffalo Bill Rodeo.
For the second time, he had the chance to ride Dirty Joke, the bronc that bucked him off at theAustin,Texasrodeo in early 2011.
But Dent made an 83 point ride on the bronc this time, to share the co-champion title. He was complimentary towards the horse. “He was a lot nicer inNorth Plattethan I thought he’d be.”
Dent is no stranger to the Wild West Arena. He’s competed there in high school rodeo, and at the pro rodeo five or six times, he estimated. The Mullen,Neb.cowboy also competes in the bareback riding, and has won money in that event in North Platte three times, including last year, when he tied for second place with an 86 point ride. Saddle bronc riding is his favorite, though. “I like bronc riding a little bit better but I usually win more in the bareback riding.”
He and his wife Kay live on a ranch near Mullen, where they help out with Steven’s parent’s ranch and run cows of their own south of town.
For Dent, North Platteis a hometown rodeo, and his family, friends, and neighbors come to see him ride. “North Platteis the closest big town to us. It’s dang sure the closest (pro) rodeo. There’s usually quite a few people from Mullen there.”
Dent has competed at four National Finals Rodeos.
Saddle bronc riding co-champion – Luke Rush
Luke Rush was riding on a borrowed saddle when he scored 83 points to tie for first place in the saddle bronc riding at the 2011 Buffalo Bill Rodeo.
The Clay Center,Kan.cowboy was supposed to be first out, but after his horse, Night
Moves, rared up and caught his saddle on the slide gate, the riggings broke. So he borrowed a saddle from another bronc rider, and he was the last to ride.
It was Rush’s first year to compete in North Platte, and only his third year in the PRCA. He grew up roping calves, qualifying for the National High School Finals Rodeo three years in the tie-down roping. He didn’t start riding broncs till college at Garden City (Kan.Community College, then atFt.Hays(Kan.)StateUniversity.
Rush liked the Beutler and Son Rodeo horse he’d drawn. “She’s a nice horse with some power, no dirties in her. She lets you do your thing.” The 30 year old cowboy trains roping and working cow horses when he’s not on the rodeo trail.
Bull riding champion – Danny Schlobohm
Bull rider Danny Schlobohm’s 88 point ride at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo won him the 2011 title and a check for $3,249.
The Lamonte,Missouri cowboy competed in PBR events before getting his PRCA card last year. He qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo in 2002 and 2003, and for a while, was in the PBR’s elite Built Ford Tour Series.
He had never seen the Beutler and Son bull Classic Red, but he friends filled him in. “I didn’t know the bull, but my buddies told me I’d love him. He shot out (of the chute), turned to the right, I stepped off of him, and I knew I was going to win it.”
Danny competed on Thursday, but with the rodeo not complete till Saturday night, he went home. While home, he watched old National Finals Rodeo tapes. “I saw (the bull) on there, and saw Tyler Smith win a go-round on him at the NFR (in 2010). He was 90 points on him and I was 88,” Danny laughed. He hopes to enter the North Platte rodeo again this year. “Beutler has a good pen of bulls and that rodeo pays real well.”
Steer wrestling champion – Ronnie Fields
For Ronnie Fields, and many other contestants, the North Platte rodeo kicks off their busy summer season. And for Fields, a steer wrestler from Oklahoma City, it was a great way to start the summer.
He won the average at the 2011 Buffalo Bill Rodeo with a time of 9.0 seconds on two
head, and for his efforts, cashed a check for $3,122. He travels with Nebraska cowboy Dean Gorsuch, and they usually meet in North Platte before hitting the rodeo trail. “We start there, I meet up with Dean, and we go off for the summer. We’ll leave to go to Reno(Nevada).”
Fields, who married four years ago, knows his full time rodeo days are coming to an end once he and his wife have children. “For me, once kids are in place, rodeo will probably back off drastically.” He plans on continuing to compete but stay closer to home.
He has competed at North Plattesince 2002, and even when his family situation slows down his rodeo schedule, he’ll come to North Platte. “Even after I’m done rodeoing full time, it’s a great circuit rodeo for me. It’s one of the top rodeos we have in our circuit.” Fields has competed at three National Finals Rodeos and won the average at the 2004 NFR.
Tie-down roping champion – Hunter Herrin
Hunter Herrin is getting used to picking up checks in North Platte.
The tie-down roper from Apache,Okla., won the rodeo in 2011, 2010, and was runner-up in 2009.
Last year, his combined time of 18.5 seconds on two head earned him a total of $3,271. He rode a nine year old quarter horse named Hustler, who was also his mount for the 2011 National Finals Rodeo. Last year was the first year Herrin used him. “I’m glad to be fortunate enough to ride a good one.”
Herrin has competed at five NFRs, and is the 2011 Prairie Circuit Finals average and all around winner.
When he pulls in to the Wild West Arena lot, “it usually rains,” Herrin joked. But “there are some places a guy has continuously good luck at, and for me, it’s North Platte. It’s been a good spot.”
He is married, with a five year old son.
Team roping champions – Charles Pogue and Walt Woodard
Ropers Charles Pogue and Walt Woodard teamed up to win the average at the 2011 Buffalo Bill Rodeo.
Their two runs combined for 13.1 seconds to win them a total of $3,284 each.
Pogue,Ringling,Okla., has competed since he was eight years old. He’s been to twelve National Finals Rodeos and more Prairie Circuit Finals than he can keep track of, ending several years as Prairie Circuit champion.
Now that his daughters are involved in their own activities, Pogue stays closer to home, roping at circuit rodeos and teaching others how to rope. He gives private lessons near his home, and flies to Utah every other month for lessons. He’s taught at roping schools across the nation, and is part of the group of team ropers that hosts the TotalTeamRoping.com website.
In addition to his roping, the 46 year old cowboy has a realtor’s license and specializes in ranch and horse properties. He and his wife Londa’s daughters are ages 11 and three.
Pogue’s partner Walt Woodard made history at last year’sNorth Platterodeo.
Unofficially, he’s the only contestant to win the same rodeo, thirty years apart. Woodard, Stephenville,Texas, competed at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in 1981, winning the gold buckle.
And he repeated the feat last year, with header Charles Pogue, to win a secondNorth Plattebuckle, thirty years later.
Today, both buckles sit side by side in his trophy room, and he gets a kick out of people’s amazement at his accomplishment.
But Woodard has accomplished more in his rodeo career.
He is the PRCA’s 1981 and 2007 World Champion Team Roper, and has twenty National Finals Rodeo qualifications, with 2011 being his most current.
At last year’s NFR, he was the oldest contestant at age 56, but it doesn’t bother him. “It means nothing to me,” he said. “It doesn’t help you. I wish I was 25, roping against those guys. The guys I rope against are so fast, so young, you have to go at it like you’re 25. You still have to have a good work ethic and a good attitude. Age is not a factor.”
Woodard enjoys competing in North Platte. “The ground is always great. They do a great job. It’s always been an enjoyable rodeo for me to go to.” He and his wife have a son, Travis, who is 27 and also a team roper.
Barrel racing champion– Rachael Reichenberg
A local cowgirl is the 2011 barrel racing champion for the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.
Rachael Reichenberg, who lives just twelve miles fromNorth Platte, in Hershey,Neb, was thrilled to be crowned champion with her 17.27 second run.
“It’s extra special, very sweet,” she said. “It was exciting to be so close to home, to have everybody, the people at the feed store, your shoer, everybody tell you, ‘oh, yeah, I was at the pro rodeo this weekend,’” and see her win.
Reichenberg rode her horse Mijo, out of Dash for Cash. “He worked really, really good. I remember flipping my reins over his head on the second barrel, but he worked good and ran fast.”
Even her neighbors were aware of her 2011 title. “The week after, my neighbor stopped by and said, ‘it was so cool to see you win.’ Now they know why you drive 12 hours to go to a rodeo.”
Reichenberg plans on entering the 2012 North Platte rodeo. “It’s fun to win a rodeo, but it’s really fun to do it at home.”