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Event Spotlight WSRRA Wyo Wild Ride
story by Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns
Horses, cattle and cowboys left deep tracks in the mud of Gillette’s CamPlex arenas during the Wyo Wild Ride and qualifying event approved by the Western States Ranch Rodeo Association (WSRRA) on Saturday, May 23. Kicking off at 10 am the event showcased 13 Men’s Teams and 9 Women’s Teams in the events Sort & Doctor, Head & Heel Tiedown Roping, Trailer Loading, and Head & Heel Branding; plus 18 cowboys in Stock Saddle Bronc Riding and a flock of quick roping cowgirls in Women’s Steer Stopping.
The colorful contestants – representing South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming – hailed from ranches with widely spaced zip codes sprinkled across the broad cattle ranges of the West. Planned, promoted and produced by Tiffany Schwenke of North Four Mile Creek Horse Ranch, the event was well-attended in spite of chilly, near-rain conditions borne on Wyoming’s tireless wind.
Tiffany’s family has been breeding and selling good horses for more than a century and the heritage, values and traditions of working ranches are near and dear to her heart. She chose to produce a WSRRA event because the association gives working men and women who are not full time ranch hands the opportunity to enjoy Ranch Rodeo competition and display their skills, even though they may hold down regular jobs outside of ranching and only cowboy for wages on their day’s off. Through opening Ranch Rodeo doors to such people, WSRRA explains they “considerably enrich the ranch rodeo sport, bringing in fresh talent, showcasing more skills and encouraging seniors, women and youths to participate in a family atmosphere.”
WSRRA representatives Naomi Loomis from Nebraska and Justin Quint from Colorado were in Gillette to assist with the production. Qualifying contestants are now eligible to participate in the 2015 WSRRA Finals at Winnemucca, Nevada.
The WSRRA National Sponsors – 8 Seconds Whiskey, RAM Rodeo, PerforMix, Boot Barn, Les Schwab Tires and Twisted K Boots – joined local sponsors Boot Hill and Pokey’s Barbeque, The Copper Sun, Record Supply, Twist N Ties, The Buckarette Collection, Smoking Pistols Photography, Arbuckle Lodge, Broomtail Design, Feather Foot Farms Carriage Service, Camblin’s Quarter Horses and First National Bank along with King Ropes, Wyoming Welding & Trucking, Cielo Cinches, Precorp Foundation Powder River Energy, Sunshine Custom, JLN Custom Leatherwork and Colorful Cowgirl to bring this WSRRA National Qualifier event to Gillette, Wyoming. Along with wild arena action, spectators enjoyed food and drink vendors and a Trade Show, organized and managed by Darcy Hanson of The Copper Sun, in the Grandstand area.
Experienced rodeo judges Tom Wagoner of www.stopwatchhorses.com and Kevin Meyer of www.mantzcreekhorses.com worked tirelessly to interpret and enforce the myriad rules of so many multifaceted events. Pickup men Wade Kornemann, Brett Marshall, Jake Gill and Toby Vineyard were well-mounted and quick to rescue the bronc riders at the end of each eight second ride. Broncs were provided by Burch Rodeo Company, roping steers by Larry Steele of Steele Cattle and calves by Kurt Kinghorn. Longtime Wyoming ranchers Kendall Cox of Rozet and Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns of Newcastle shared the microphone to call the rodeo action. Marilyn Mackey managed the secretarial tasks and timers were Betty Hough, Brittany Bucholz, and Laurie Cox.
Winners who split purse money and took home a bevy of nice awards include:
Womens Steer Stopping – 1 Jessica Bolerjack, Kemmerer, WY; 2 Brenda Beeson, Crawford, NE; 3 Brandi Schleve, Torrington, WY; 4 Jessie Konoske, Buffalo, WY.
Women’s Teams – 1st Bismark Ranch – Amanda Karrels, Sturgis, SD; Jessica Bolerjack Kemmerer, Cristina Gorzalka, Sheridan & Callie Burch, Gillette, WY. 2nd Antelope Springs Ranch – Sara Christian, Buffalo; Cindy Campbell, Midwest; Taylor Mason & Jen Scheer, Casper, WY. 3rdSeeded Strip – Rachel Michell, Miles City, MT; Sonnie Gartner, Morgan Flitner, Shell, WY; Jackie McKenny, Big Horn, MT. 4th Powder River Girls – Amy Gonzales & Jessie Konoske, Buffalo, WY; Amy Vineyard & Valee Cooley, Arvada, WY.
Men’s Teams — 1st MW Ranch, Levi Walker & Layne Craften, Kemmerer, WY; Chad Rainsdon, Dillon, MT; Mike McArthur, Deer Lodge, MT. 2nd Slim Butte Boys – Clint Doll, Ty Thyco, Ty Hotchkiss & Jay Olson, Prairie City, SD. 3rd Floyd Land & Livestock – Wade Kornemann & Brett Marshall, Lodge Grass, MT; Blaine Humble & Kirk Lohof, Gillette, WY. 4th Padlock Ranch – Matt Noyes, J.D. Hill, Cody Snyder & Ben Monk; Big Horn, MT.
Stock Saddle Bronc Riding – 1st Wesley Rosengreen, Wheatland, WY 2nd – Sam Dunback, Roundup, MT 3rd – Ty Clawson, Wyola, MT 4thBrandon Bowers, Sheridan, WY.
A lot of spooky, ambitious sheep provided wild rides for a long line of small but eager Mutton Buster’s. Champion was Gabbi Bolli, with Bronc Vineyard claiming 2nd, Raynee Jones 3rd and Brady Maher 4th.
The success of this event prompted Founder/Producer Tiffany Schwenke to confide, “We hope to host this event next year, adding a second day featuring the sale of participating horses.” Many people believe such a sale would be successful since prospective buyers would be given the opportunity to watch the horses in true competition situations. No nearby horse sales are scheduled at that time of year, and ranchers always need great horses.