Written by: Lily Weinacht< Back to Articles
Behind Boyd Polhamus’s rodeo announcing career of 30 years and counting are numerous sets of hoofprints, left by the horses that have carried the Texan and his voice throughout rodeos all over the continent, from the college practice pen where he got his start to the height of professional rodeo at the WNFR. Gopher, Jack, Rolex, Limo, and a newcomer named Lambeau have all put Boyd close to the action on the arena floor.
Of the more than 1,000 rodeos Boyd has announced in his career, approximately 70 percent of those have been on horseback. “Number one, I love my job, and number two, my biggest fear is someone saying that Boyd took the day off, so I’m religious about my research. I want to make the fans know the contestant as best as I can,” explains the four-time PRCA Announcer of the Year. “It’s a lot easier to announce from a booth because you don’t have a horse to feed or bathe, but it’s therapeutic for me to step away from that research and interact with the contestants at the wash rack or feed time, and find some things out you wouldn’t in the media.”
When Boyd started announcing at 19, he rode stock contractors’ horses. Having ridden since he was 4—and known for being his home state of Wisconsin’s first three-time all-around cowboy in high school—he wasn’t scared to get on anything that was broke. By his early 30s, Boyd decided to start announcing on his own horses, and he looks for certain qualities in all the horses he works off of. Conformation is important to Boyd, along with a horse that isn’t too flashy—he prefers solid-colored horses without many markings. “If you study my horses, I want you to like them, but I want you to watch the competition,” he explains. “I want a horse that pays attention. It doesn’t matter if he’s a little flighty at first as long as he gets over it. I want one with spunk but who realizes something won’t hurt him.” Boyd’s horses have to grow accustomed not only to laser lights and pyrotechnics but being quick to respond, especially during the roughstock portion of rodeos. “You don’t want to be where the bucking horse can see you or you could draw the horse to you and out of the bucking pattern. I hide behind the gate the horse is coming out of, and if he goes bucking across the arena, I stay on his tail about three horse lengths back.”
Boyd is on the road often 260-280 days a year, frequently with a horse in tow. He and his horse experience a variety of temperatures, elevations, and climates, along with changes in water, within just a few weeks or even days of each other. His horse’s feed remains constant, however. “Zero times have I had a horse colic since I started feeding Nutrena, and I can’t remember feeding anything but Nutrena in over a decade,” says Boyd. “My horses look good and the reason is they’re getting proper nutrition. I do my part and worm them, but at the end of the day, you are what you eat, and my horses don’t colic.” Many of the animals on Boyd and his wife Sandee’s Band-Aid Ranch in Brenham, Texas, eat Nutrena, from their Brangus cattle to the fish in their pond. “They’re the cream of the crop when it comes to any kind of animal nutrition, and their reps are so knowledgeable,” Boyd adds. “My horses look fat and happy, they have shiny coats, and I have to attribute all that to Nutrena.”
Lambeau, a 5-year-old gelding Boyd purchased on Colorado, is his newest addition to the herd, though Limo remains his old faithful. Following the summer run, Boyd plans to take Lambeau to announce some smaller county rodeos in Texas to season him. The rest of Boyd’s time is spent at home, where down time is getting the trailer ready for his next trip, weaning calves, or spraying and fertilizing pastures. “Home is my vacation, but it’s not like I go home and go fishing—I’d much rather do something productive.”
His latest venture is picking up the baton from Shawn Davis as General Manager of Production of the WNFR in 2019. “I won’t be announcing the NFR this year because I’ll be shadowing Shawn Davis and learning from him. In 2019 I take over, and I’m going to continue announcing. In the words of Willie Nelson when they asked him what his goals for 2017 were, and he said to make it to 2018, my goals are to do everything better than I did before. I’ll be 53 in September, and I’m excited about the National Finals Rodeo and making it more fun and engaging for fans and contestants. Basically, I want to do things better than I have before.”