HERMISTON — Bull riding is one of the more popular rodeo events for fans, and for good reason.
Watching a sub-200 pound cowboy hop on a 1,500 pound bull and try to ride it for eight seconds is as thrilling as it sounds, and when done right it is perhaps the most thrilling eight seconds of rodeo any fan will see. But it is one of the toughest rodeo events for the very same reason, as staying on a large bull that’s doing everything it can to buck the cowboy off it’s back is not one of the easiest things to do.
It was a tough week for the bull riders at the Farm-City Pro Rodeo with only five qualified rides through the first three nights, and it didn’t get any easier on Saturday. Only one of the eight competitors for the final night of the rodeo was able to tame his bull, and that was Challis, Idaho cowboy Ruger Piva, who rode Corey and Lange’s Anchor Man for 86.5 points.
“Any time you come to Oregon and try to ride bulls, it’s a step up,” Piva said of the stock, which came from Korkow Rodeo, Kesler Rodeo, and Corey and Lange’s throughout the week. “These are some of the best bulls I’ve ever seen in my life up this way and it’s kind of intimidating, but it’s also kind of nice.”
Piva said that he had watched Anchor Man in person once before, which gave him a little more confidence heading into his ride.
“I’ve seen him once with a buddy that rode him and I think it gave me an upper hand,” he said. “I knew he was going to come out of (the chute) and ride out the whistle and go the other way, so that’s how I kind of kept up with him.”
The ride earned him a $100 bonus and bottle of Chute 8 Whiskey for the top score of the night, but it was also good enough for a second place finish overall and a $4,008 payday to make the trip worthwhile.
“I love it here in Oregon,” he said. “The bulls buck good, a lot of good money to be won, and shoot you know I love my whiskey.”
Also on hand for the finale of the 30th Farm-City Pro Rodeo were a pair of 2016 world champions in roper Tyson Durfey and bronc rider Zeke Thurston. Both cowboys have followed up their championships with another great season so far and gave the Hermiston fans something to cheer for with top scores of the night in their respective events.
For Durfey, he tied his calf in 7.7 seconds to win the night and the second round. A no time recorded in slack on Saturday afternoon prevented Durfey from winning any average money, but he still managed a $1,737 payday for his run.
“That’s definitely the best run I’ve had here in Hermiston,” he said. “I had a good calf ... they actually won the first go round on that calf so I knew he was going to be good.
“But all the credit to my horse, Nico, he was on point tonight. He really worked sharp, scored good, ran hard and allowed me to win.”
And for Thurston, he rode Stampede Warrior from the Calgary Stampede pen for 83.5 points for the $100 bonus. It was a rematch for the pair, which Thurston rode earlier in the year for a lower score.
“It was a really nice horse and I wish I could get on 100 like that a year,” he said. “It’s fun to have.”
Thurston’s ride also boosted him to a tie for third for the rodeo with Brody Cress, earning a $2,461 check on his way out of town.
“You want to win money everywhere, but I really enjoy it here and all the Northwest rodeos,” he said. “There’s a reason we keep coming back, because they treat us well and they’re all great rodeos.”
Another world champion on hand was four-time bareback champ Kaycee Feild. The 2017 season has been a rough one for Feild, as a late start with injury and some bad luck currently has him way down in the standings at No. 33 nearly $28,000 behind the final qualifying spot to the NFR.
However Feild’s luck has been turning around in recent weeks and it continued on Saturday as he scored an 85.5 to tie him with fellow Utah cowboy Mason Clements for the top ride of the night.
Feild took on Calgary Stampede’s Reckless Margie which was a match-up he had been waiting on for a while.
“That horse was a lot of fun,” he said. “If you stub your toe, he’ll buck you off but if you ride him right, eight seconds isn’t long enough.”
The ride also boosted Feild and Clements to a three-way tie for third place in the rodeo along with Luke Creasy, for a $2,152 payday each.
“My main goal is to be a world champion, but I have to get to Las Vegas first,” said Feild. “I have to start taking chops out of the tree before I can tip it over, and this tonight was a good whack at it.”
And in terms of NFR qualifications, the night was key for Clements as well as he currently sits in that 15th an final qualification spot with six weeks left to go.
“I just couldn’t be happier to have that horse and to go out there and do my job and him do his, it adds up really well,” Clements said. “It’s what I’m needing to keep being consistent to make it to the finals and this is a big step to keep me going and I feel great.”
In team roping, the 13th and final pair of brothers Joshua and Jonathan Torres of Ocala, Florida scored 5.3 seconds to take the night’s top time. They drove in on Saturday afternoon from Colville, Utah and a fourth place finish and victory lap around the arena made the trip worthwhile.
“That’s the easiest to be last, so you know what you have to beat,” Jonathan said afterward. “We knew we had to be at 5.3 or better to get fourth so we just had to go execute our run and if it works, it works and it did just like we practice.”
Elsewhere in barrel racing, it was Forth Worth, Texas’ Tillar Murray that took the top time with 17.39 seconds, earning her a 11th place finish overall and a $685 payout.
And in steer wrestling, Buffalo, South Dakota’s Chason Floyd scored a 3.6 second time on his steer to win the night. With his 3.9 second time from slack as well, Floyd wrapped up the average win for the rodeo and a total payout of $4,670.
The other event winners for the 30th Farm-City Pro Rodeo.
● Bareback: Austin Foss (Terrebone, Oregon), 89 points, $5,534.
● Tie-down roping: Tyler Milligan (Pawhuska, Oklahoma) 16.9 seconds on two, $5,854.
● Saddle bronc: Jake Wright (Milford, Utah), 88.5 points, $5,273.
● Team roping: Hayes Smith (Central Point, Oregon) and Justin Davis (Cottonwood, California), 9.6 seconds on two, $5,529 each.
● Barrel racing: Kimmie Wall (Roosevelt, Utah), 17.20 seconds, $4,568.
● Bull riding: Toby Collins (Stephenville, Texas), 87 points, $5,169.
● All-Around: Clayton Hass (Weatherford, Texas), $1,760.
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.