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The Nevada Rancher
By Jennifer Whiteley
Winnemucca, Nev-Ranch Rodeo is a sport that is steeped in traditions, values, heritage, and a genuine love of the lifestyle that working ranch cowboys live daily. Events originated from, and are still the same as the tasks that cowboys complete daily on the ranches they work, whether they are full time cowboys, or only cowboy on the weekends. They want to pass down the traditions that they have learned through sweat and tears to younger generations. Ranch rodeo is one way they are giving the public some insight into their livelihood and passing on those traditions to a younger generation.
The Western States Ranch Rodeo Association covers California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming to mention a few of the 14 western states and Canada that the association reaches. 2017 will see the first ever WSRRA sanctioned rodeo in Hawaii! It originated to fill a need for a ranch rodeo association that caters to not only the working ranch cowboy, but those who work at other professions during the week, smaller ranches, and part time cowboy contenders. WSRRA’s goal is to continue to expand the opportunities for all ranch rodeo competitors, and ensure that ranch rodeo will continue for generations to come. The WSRRA was formed in 2010 to promote and preserve this way of life through a sanctioned ranch rodeo association for working cowboys to compete in.
For contestants to qualify to compete at the WSRRA Finals, they must be a member of the WSRRA before competing at a sanctioned event for the results to qualify. (Contestants may compete at WSRRA sanctioned events without a WSRRA membership. They must have the membership if they wish to compete at the WSRRA Finals). Memberships can be purchased at sanctioned rodeo events, or purchased on the WSRRA website (www.wsrra.org). All members on the team must have a WSRRA card. The top carded team from a sanctioned rodeo qualifies for the WSRRA Finals held in Winnemucca, Nevada the first weekend in November. The top 15 ranked stock saddle bronc riders and women’s steer stoppers also qualify for the finals. Producers can have their event sanction as a WSRRA rodeo by filling out a form on the WSRRA website. WSRRA has both a men’s and women’s division.
Association Representative of the WSRRA Naomi Loomis of Alliance, Nebraska first heard about the WSRRA in an article in Working Ranch Cowboy by Tim O’Byrne highlighting the WSRRA Finals. She called to see if her rodeo, Double A Feeds Ranch Rodeo and Bronc Riding would qualify. She was able to send a qualifying team that year to the finals. The next year her husband Cody and his team qualified for the WSRRA finals so Naomi traveled to Winnemucca with him. She was then recruited to help with media and promoting the WSRRA. She works closely with Mary Williams Hyde to promote the rodeo. Loomis says “The team that is successful [at any ranch rodeo] has good horsemanship, attitude, and are humble. Like any sport, teamwork is most important.” Loomis doesn’t foresee any new events being added to the lineup for the WSRRA Finals anytime soon. The WSRRA’s Finals are open to all qualifying teams, but they foresee capping the number of competing teams at the finals in the future as the WSRRA continues to gain popularity.
The WSRRA continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Each year sees increased membership as well as an increase in the number of sanctioned events available to competitors. In 2010, WSRRA sanctioned 30 events and in 2016 WSRRA sanctioned 50 events. It keeps getting bigger and better and continues to gain momentum in the ranch rodeo sport. It takes a large crew of helpers and sponsors to make a ranch rodeo successful. The WSRRA Finals wouldn’t be the ranch rodeo it is without all their great sponsors which they greatly appreciate.
WSRRA ensures quality stock by being selective in the contractors they invite to the finals. The WSRRA board of directors and representatives watch horses that are bucked out at various sanctioned events throughout the year. Top horse contractors are invited to bring horses to the finals. Cowboys vote on the top bronc of the finals and it is awarded top honors at the finals. This incentive encourages contractors to bring their best horses to each rodeo. Stock contractors Dave and Bobbi Murphy of Hot Creek, Nv supply all of the roping cattle for the Finals.
Teams travel from all over the western states to compete, and some even travel from as far away as Nebraska, Texas, and Alberta, Canada. One of the most popular events, the ranch bronc riding draws a huge crowd. But like any rodeo, people come to watch and cheer on the contestants they know. Having broncs that buck hard and good stock for the roping events continues to draw large crowds of spectators. WSRRA’s main goal is to keep western traditions alive. “My kids are 14, 12, and 6. I want them to go to a ranch rodeo and rope or ride a bronc if they want to. I want to keep those traditions alive” said Loomis. “If we don’t keep it going it will die out. Ranch rodeos give cowboys an opportunity to come to town and show off what they do every day on the ranch.” The WSRRA caters to cowboys that live the ranching lifestyle, keeping western, ranching, and buckaroo traditions alive. They include events that contestants want to compete in and spectators want to watch. This helps to ensure a quality rodeo for contestants and spectators both, further promoting the traditions, values, heritage, and ranching spirit alive.