story by Lindsay Humphrey A graduate of a school known for its rodeo team – Oklahoma Panhandle State University – Austin Hawkins didn’t compete until […]
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Meet the Member Jeremy Miller
story by Michele Toberer
Ranch bronc riding is quickly growing as one of the favored events at the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association rodeos, and Jeremy Miller of Isabel, Kansas can’t imagine life without the gritty competition. Although he started out as a team roper when he was 17 and competed in USTRC and World Series ropings for several years, it wasn’t until he entered ranch bronc riding in 2014 that he knew he’d found where he belonged. It didn’t hurt that he won a buckle at his very first rodeo! “What really gets my blood pumping is to stick a rank bronc. I like it from the perspective that ranch bronc riding draws working cowboys. Most of the guys that enter have full-time jobs and you know what ranch or yard they work for, so there’s a lot of bragging rights won between the different outfits. The thing about ranch bronc riding is that it also provides a lot of entertainment at a rodeo. It’s a dirty event! Sometimes, the best rides are not about who’s the best, but about how spectacularly they fly off!”
Jeremy has been around horses his whole life, and since he was 19 he’s been working for ranches, riding horses and managing cattle. His love for breaking horses and riding out a buck came early, “I was 16 when I got my first Grey Badger by Hancock, and he taught me how to fall off gracefully!” He graduated from Medicine Lodge High School in 2006 and started his first ranch job in 2008 for McCarty Land & Cattle in Ashland, Kansas. That’s where some friends that were ranch bronc competitors introduced him to the event. “My bosses didn’t want me getting hurt so I didn’t enter, but I was really drawn to the event, and worked as a pickup man for my buddies while they rode practice horses.” In 2014, Jeremy moved back home to Barber County, and he’s worked for the Cargill Ranch since 2015, where he manages their north yard and looks after a few hundred cow/calf pairs. Jeremy’s biological dad, Lyle Hilton, was a saddlebronc rider in the 70’s and helped Jeremy with is technique as he started out. Jeremy’s mom, Mona Miller, and adoptive dad, Terry Miller, didn’t come from rodeo roots, but have been very supportive of him and Terry is always shopping the market to keep good horses under Jeremy.
It wasn’t until 2019 that Jeremy actually chased a rodeo trail after buying his first KPRA card. “I had never chased anything like I did last year, and I had definitely not been on the level of broncs I climb on now. It was a great accomplishment to win the 2019 KPRA Champion Ranch Bronc Rider title last year, and I am now involved in the association as an assistant director for the event.” Jeremy is grateful to Spencer Scott, his traveling partner and mentor this past year, “He helped me a lot and always kept me steady.” Jeremy also appreciates the support of his fiancé, Cassidy Konkel, who he counts on as a staple behind the chutes, as she videos everyone’s rides for them. The couple’s wedding is planned for May 23, 2020.
“In ranch bronc riding, you’re sitting behind the withers, closer to the horse’s butt where the power is, so you don’t really get that rocking chair effect. You don’t have to worry about a mark out like in saddle bronc riding, but you don’t have stirrup bindings either. The horses are a little more erratic in the way they buck, not necessarily just straight across the pen. The competitors have a lot of pride in their equipment, from the saddles they work out of to their ranch leggings, usually with their ranch brand on them. I like that women are starting to enter ranch broncs, back like how it used to be.”
Jeremy looks forward to learning more about the production side of rodeo in his participation as a director for KPRA and is hoping to add more championship buckles along the way.