Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
2018 WSRRANFR Ranch Bronc Riding Champion Chase Thrall
by Naomi Loomis,
WSRRA Association Representative
The American cowboy has been a worldwide icon since the early 1800s. Today the heritage, values, and traditions of the working ranch are still alive and well. Ranch cowboys are out there living the lifestyle – calving, branding, gathering and doctoring cattle – keeping our ranching traditions alive. In the late 1800s, bronc riding became a form of public entertainment at Wild West shows. But by the 1990s, ranch rodeos were gaining in popularity, featuring working cowboys as contestants. Ranch bronc riding, which resembles bronc-riding events held at the turn of the 20th century, became a featured event.
Going into the 2018 Western States Ranch Rodeo Association National Finals, Chase Thrall, Austin, Nevada, was ranked 3rd in the WSRRA ranch bronc riding standings. This 32 year- old Nevada cowboy took home the Gist Silversmith World Champion Buckle. “It is truly a unreal feeling. I am so proud to represent not only this wonderful association but the USA and the battle born state of Nevada.”
“The 2018 WSRRA NFR went great for me. This year I had a ton of support not only from my family but from people that I call friends. I also drew very, very good I got the chance to get on “Gun Slinger” of the Jess Jones string. Gun Slinger is a horse that I watched for the past few years and seen a lot a money won on him. I never had the chance to get on him. Then there was “Ryan” of Gene King Rodeo string. “Ryan” was another one that I have wanted to draw since the first time I seen him at the finals three years ago. Drawing “Ryan” at this year finals was defiantly a highlight. Then there was “No Bueno” of the Bonnie Rasmussen string. He was the one horse that fit me the best. I had so much fun riding him as he was on a strong win streak and had not been ridden all year. ”
“My low spot at finals was when my first round horse flipped over on me in the chute, as they flopped me down on the grading behind the chute seeing the blood dripping from my nose I thought, man this must be how a mule deer feels when he is shot and can’t breathe, I was just waiting for someone to poke me with a stick to see if I was dead yet! But it worked out and I got on another great horse of Bonnies and took second in the round.”
Chase along with his wife, Shawna and their almost three year old daughter Svea, manages the “Home Ranch” for the Barta Cattle Company in Austin, Nevada. Shawna is also a school teacher. Chase gives his successful ranch bronc riding career to his family. “The one thing that has made me so successful is my family. There is no way I could have achieved a tenth of this without the love and support of my wife, Shawna. She has been there since the beginning. She wasn’t just there for the long drives and sleepless nights, but she was also there for me mentally. There was a time at the end of July when I was getting burned out and her faith in me kept me focused on the end of the year. Then there is my daughter that to this day can’t stop talking about bucking horses and gets so excited when I grab my gear bag and saddle. This is sometimes followed by meltdowns over the fact that I didn’t put her saddle in the truck too, so that she can ride the baby bucking horses.”
Chase’s 2018 ranch bronc season started in Winnemucca, Nevada at the New Year’s Bronc Bash and it ended in the same spot at the WSRRA finals. Chase’s longest bronc riding was a fifteen hours away. Chase and his little family hit a rodeo almost every weekend starting in April and they didn’t stop till the end of September.
Chase has been riding bucking horses since he was 17 years old. Chase explains, “I actually started with regular saddle bronc in high school. I wasn’t very good for the fact that I didn’t practice enough. But my first ranch bronc was when I was 17 in Lund, NV. I remember that I had also entered in the regular saddle bronc which was a two header and the ranch bronc was just a single header. The first day I got hung up on my saddle bronc and got stomped on bad. The second day I got lawn darted by my second bronc which didn’t help my already sore body. Then it was time for my ranch bronc. That was the only horse I got rode. It for sure wasn’t very pretty, but it was better than picking myself up two jumps from the chute!”
I asked Chase how much of riding a bronc is using your legs versus using your hands. “I believe that if you use your rein right and keep your feet an inch in front of your front chinch, you can get anything rode, but if you want to win you have to get your feet moving. The main thing I would preach about is to have a strong core and sense of balance. I believe this can be achieved by riding a broke horse even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.”
Chase has been a WSRRA card holder for 5 years. “If I remember right it was Pook Hoots that told me about the WSRRA. The thing I enjoy the most about it is the time with my family and friends. We have made so many friends along the way, from stock contractors (Wayne and Jodi Larsen) that sit on the back of the bucking chutes in-between sections and play with Svea to the competitors that have their families there just the same as myself. People like Tuffy Gessling, Victoria Jackson of V Hanging Hart Media, and Shane and Amy Riley of J Bar D Canvas. There are so many more and I am just thankful for the people that make up the association.”
Chase and I chatted about five things that he takes with him on the rodeo trail. He explains it like this, “Well the first thing I take is my family. Gotta throw them in the truck. Then my gear, of course. A bedroll just in case we don’t win any money. We will have a place to sleep if need be. A gun- you never know what type of weirdos you will meet on the road, and a big knife in case the gun fails! Then last of all, we always have a dog with us. Mostly because we have more dogs than kennels but also just in case the knife fails!”
Maintaining a job and following the WSRRA rodeo trail is not as easy as it might seem. “It was very hard, Joel Baer and Justin Quint both great guys made it to where I had to go every weekend to stay up in the WSRRA points. My boss was very understanding and gave me the time to go. As I said before my wife made it possible by doing most of the driving. There were so many weekends that she would drive all night so I could sleep. There were many times that we would pull in to the ranch, I would jump out grab a horse and jump in another truck to go check cows or water. Shawna would have to try and sleep while taking care of Svea.”
With ranch bronc riding gaining popularity it is promising to look into the future. “Ranch bronc riding has come such a long way from when I started. It used to be a clown act, something to kill a minute or two. But now we are one of the main spot lights, drawing some great sponsors. I think the future looks good. There is so much talent coming up. It is unreal, you have kids like Monte Kingen, Cooper Trindle, Noah Mort, Cooper Stevenson, Levi Hartmann, Joel Baer and Wes Aragon and the list gos on and on. The young, great bronc riders are here to keep it going for the next ten years. And I see the kids that look up to family now that in 15 years are going to be cracking out to like Wes Rosengreens kids, Lane Bartons kids, Wes Aragons kids, and Svea, she already is making me pack her saddle so it won’t be too long before she uses it.”
“I would also like to take the time to thank the contractors that help with these kids, they provide good horses that don’t cow kill them with the first rattle out of the box and people like Bonnie and Wayne and Jodi, the sport of ranch bronc riding, owes you a huge thank you.”
Chase’s goals in 2019 include having fun with his family. He would like to try to make it in the top 15 in the WSRRA national standings but he also is going to slow down and catch up on his hunny-to- do list in between rodeos. “I’ll be to most of the Nevada rodeos and only a couple out of state ones but I’m going to Castro Valley, California, it was a wonderful show last year. They treated my family and I so well and had some good pro horses. I also plan on going to Salmon Idaho, the people and the town is great. I also plan on going to Sheridan, Wyoming. Toby Vineyard is a great guy, has a great show that runs so smooth and he brings Burch Rodeo colts to his event. Everyone that knows me knows how much I love the colt fits. I would also like to attend at least one ranch bronc riding that Bad Medicine Rodeo is the stock contractor, just see them great horses and even better people”.
Chase, on behalf of the WSRRA, congratulations on being the 2018 WSRRA National Finals Ranch Bronc Riding Champion.