story by Hannah Crandall Now a rodeo judge from Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, Shane Thurston has been going to rodeos since he was two-years-old. Shane’s […]
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Meet the Member Fletcher Tigner
story by Lindsay Humphrey
It wasn’t enough that Fletcher Tigner competed in all three roughstock events through 4-H and high school rodeo in New Mexico, he also ended up becoming a bull fighter. “I started out just fighting bulls in high school at practice and then I fought bulls for college practice too. My first paying rodeo was a bull sale put on by Blaine Muncy. I got hired by several other contractors from that and it just went from there,” said the Magdalena, New Mexico, rancher. Self-described simply as cowboy protection, Fletcher said he isn’t a flashy bull fighter. “I’m known around here as the guy that will fight bulls in boots and spurs.”
Billy Jack Pound and Blaine Muncy were Fletcher’s hometown heroes who ultimately influenced him to become a first-generation rodeo competitor. “Billy and Blaine worked for my dad on his ranch growing up, so they’ve been family friends since before I was born.” A ranching family several generations deep, Fletcher always asked his dad when he could ride a calf. “My dad told me I could ride a calf when I was 6, so on sixth my birthday he had to put me on one. I grew up doing 4-H and high school rodeo, competing in all three roughstock events. I made nationals a couple of times in high school.” Fletcher earned himself a full-ride rodeo scholarship to Western Texas College in Snyder.
“I had the best rodeo coach in the world: Bob Doty. I got a two-year degree there and then went with Bob to Tarleton State in Stephenville when he started coaching there.” Fletcher qualified for the CNF twice and in 1993 he took third in the nation in bull riding and was ninth in the saddle bronc. He competed in three roughstock events until an injury in the bareback riding made him decide to hang up his suitcase handle. In 1994, as a sophomore in college, Fletcher purchased his PRCA permit. That next year he was the Turquoise Circuit Rookie of the Year Saddle Bronc Rider. He’s purchased his card every year since, even if he can only hit a few pro rodeos.
At 47 years old, Fletcher still rides saddles broncs in the NMRA and fights bulls on occasion. “I’m not as good as I used to be, but I’ve stayed in decent health so I can still do it. Except this year when COVID hit, we haven’t had many rodeos in New Mexico, so I haven’t gotten to ride much.” Fletcher hung up his bull rope after tearing his bicep in the early 2000s. “The whole muscled pulled off the bone at the lower part and ended up in my shoulder. It took a long time to heal.” Fletcher wasn’t sure his arm could handle the abuse after he got it reattached. “I rode a few after that but I didn’t want it to happen again and I really didn’t want to spend more time in recovery.”
Finding ways to keep himself busy wasn’t too difficult. Ranching is in Fletcher’s blood and it’s a career he’s pretty much stuck to his entire life. “I run the Sawmill Canyon Ranch in central New Mexico. I’ve been on this ranch for about a year, but my family’s ranch is just south of here and I still contribute there too.” Fletcher is also a father to Josie, 14, Macy, 11, and Tate, 6, and a step-father to Cy and Dakota. “My kids haven’t rodeoed a whole lot yet, but I also haven’t been pushing it. Tate got on a calf and he was a little rank. He seems to be more interested in riding broncs than bulls.” And that’s just fine by Fletcher. Macy, on the other hand, might by needing her own bull rope here soon. “I don’t want rodeo to die, I want to keep passing on this legacy of bronc, bull and bareback riders. I want kids to keep being interested in it, that’s why it’s important to me to help kids out so they can learn about rodeo.”