The draw is everything in rodeo.
The right animal can lead a cowboy to reroute his caravan and travel any distance just for the chance to get on its back or wrestle it to the ground.
But bareback rider Grant Denny was so uninspired with his Pendleton Round-Up pairing, Sankey Pro Rodeos Music, that he planned on staying home rather than travel the 11 hours from his home in Minden, Nevada to Oregon.
I looked him up and hed only bucked a few times, Denny said Friday. I just didnt think he was a good enough horse to get to the short round. He just looked really weak.
But as is often the case, the itch to ride caught up with Denny, and he spent all of Thursday night in his car, arriving only a couple of hours before his scheduled go with Music.
The half-day excursion proved well spent, as the a pair teamed up for a long round-best 82-point ride (and a $5,243 paycheck), seeding Denny as the top bareback competitor in Saturdays final performance round.
The eight seconds were a blur, Denny said, and the young horse was nothing like hed expected.
Here at Pendleton sometimes theyll buck a lot better because they dont want to hit that grass, Denny thought out loud following the ride. So the grass worked out in my favor, I guess.
The short-go draw is the last worry on his mind, but the whirlwind couple of days has taken its toll on the veteran rider.
(All the horses) are going to be good tomorrow, he said. Wait, its tomorrow, right?
Cody DeMers, of Caldwell, Idaho, is one of four riders from Fridays section that will join Denny in Saturdays 14-man short round.
Like Denny, DeMers required a web search to familiarize himself with his draw Four Star Rodeos Casey what he found was a little different than the leaders result.
I looked him up on the Internet, and Ive seen some guys make some pretty good rides on him, so I figured he must be OK, he said.
The scouting proved right and DeMers and Casey posted a 79-point score, good for seventh position.
This rodeo is what its all about, DeMers said. Yeah, the national finals is big and exciting, but Pendleton is too.
DeMers is one of two past champs in the championship field winning in 2005 two-time champ Will Lowe is the other.
Justin McDaniel was the runner-up in 2007.
Other notables include former Blue Mountain Community College rider Austin Foss, brothers Ty and Casey Breuer, who both qualified today with identical 76-point rides, and 50-year old Kelly Wardell.
Bareback riding: First round: 1. Grant Denny, 82 points on Sankey Rodeos Music, $5,243; 2. (tie) Tilden Hooper, Austin Foss and Tim OConnell, 81, $2,971 each; 5. Will Lowe, 80, $1,223; 6. (tie) Caleb Bennett, Mason Clements and Cody DeMers, 79, $699 each.
Saddle Bronc Riding
Cort Scheer was not about to miss a chance on Sankey Pro Rodeos Lady Killer.
Scheer splits his time atop buckin broncos and working on his familys 500-head cattle ranch in Elsmere, Nebraska. So it wasnt until all of his responsibilities were finished that Scheer the third-ranked rider in the world could make the 20-hour drive west.
I wasnt even planning on coming. We got all of the work done and I told my dad Shoot, if you dont mind, Id kind of like to get on it, and he was like Well, the works all done, so go ahead, he said of the conversation he had with his father Kevin early Thursday morning.
The weary Scheer arrived just in time to give Lady Killer the try hed driven so far to get. And fortunately, the beige mare performed exactly as hed hoped, teaming up for an 84-point ride, making the sleepless night well worth it.
Its kind of hard to drive 20 hours to get on a horse that you know you arent going to win on, Scheer said. That horse you know you could win on if you ride good, so youd drive your wheels off to get to it.
The 84-point ride drew the crowds rowdy affection and placed him in second standing for Saturdays short round.
Scheer, whos only made Saturday once at the Round-Up, knows a big score will be required today to earn the championship buckle and saddle.
Tomorrow youre going to have to be flirting with 88 or 89 to win this thing, because youve got Korkows, Sankeys, Calgarys, he said. Youve got the juice here.
Making the task even taller is the NFR caliber field of cowboys in todays 12-man short round. The last three champions Jake Wright, Cody DeMoss and Taos Muncy all earned a second bronc, and the inclusion of Chet Johnson (2007) and Jeff Willert (2005) means that five of the 12 men competing have won buckles at Pendleton.
Jake Wrights younger brother Spencer Wright will also get a second go.
Saddle bronc riding: First round: 1. Cody DeMoss, 85 points on Korkow Rodeos Fraid Knot, $4,256; 2. Cort Scheer, 84, $3,263; 3. (tie) Cole Elshere and Jake Wright, 82, $1,986 each; 5. (tie) Taos Muncy and Tyrell Smith, 81, $851 each; 7. (tie) Jeff Willert and Spencer Wright, 79, $496 each.
Steve Woolsey finds himself in Las Vegas more Decembers than not. But even so, the 10-year veteran has never been able to make any cash in Pendleton.
Woolsey hopes an 85-point ride on Four Star Rodeos Speculation will change that. The ride already accomplished one rare occurence for the diminutive cowboy a spot in Saturdays Round-Up final performance. Its something hes only done once before in 10 trips to Pendleton.
Its been rough on me every year, the Utah native said. But you cant miss Pendleton.
And just as his rides in Pendleton have been unpredictable, his draw was on Friday as well.
While hed never ridden the mammoth bull before, he thought he knew its tendencies. But rather than start left and turn right like hed expected, it went right and only right.
It just wasnt the same track, so I kind of had to counteract him, he said. In the world of bull riding, there aint no guarantees. The first jump might be the same, but after that theres no telling what hes going to do.
The eight seconds earned him second place money in the first round, just two points behind Dallee Mason.
Fridays action muddied the waters in the bull riding, with five competitors advancing on for another ride.
Clayton Sanderson (83), Jeff Askey (83) and Wesley Silcox (81) each scored over 80 point rides.
Askey, a cowboy from Martin, Texas, is just happy to be finally competing in Pendleton.
A late bloomer, who only began competing professionally four years ago as a 22-year-old, Askey has been sidelined by injuries the last two Septembers. But the maiden voyage has already made quite the impression.
Its my new favorite rodeo. Its awesome, he said. You can sit out there on the grass and watch. Youre part of the action when youre out there. The horses come by you. Its kind of neat.
Last years winner Clayton Foltyn remains in the field, but his 81-point score on Thursday, is six points behind Mason.
Bull riding: First round: 1. Dallee Mason, 87 points on The Cervi Brothers Happy Hooker, $4,270; 2. (tie) Clayton Savage and Steve Woolsey, 85, $2,846 each; 4. (tie) Jeff Askey and Caleb Sanderson, 83, $1,281 each; 6. Sage Kimzey, 82, $712; 7. (tie) Clayton Foltyn and Wesley Silcox, 81, $498 each.