Black Hills Stock Show feature: Billy Etbauer, South Dakota’s Three Million Dollar cowboy | TSLN.com

Black Hills Stock Show feature: Billy Etbauer, South Dakota’s Three Million Dollar cowboy

Doris Lauing

Rodeo is one of the oldest original competitive sports known in the U.S. South Dakota can also boast of one of the largest and oldest organizations associated with rodeo. Because of this, rodeo has been recognized by the State Legislature declaring it the state’s sport in 2003. It is only fitting that Billy Etbauer, Ree Hights, SD-native, recently became the first and only cowboy in the world to obtain three million dollars in career earnings in a single rodeo event – saddle bronc riding.

Born in 1963 to Lyle and Betty Etbauer, Billy is the second oldest son with siblings Robert, Wanda and Danny. Growing up on the ranch, the Etbauers spent a lifetime raising and working with cattle and horses. They were also very fortunate to be neighbors and family friends of the Cowans and Fultons who raised and trained quality horses and participated in the sport of rodeo. Beginning as most youngsters do by participating in local playdays and 4-H, Billy recalls his brother Robert being influential in his desire to ride broncs.

After graduating from high school Billy stayed on at the ranch. 1988 served as his rookie year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). That same year his brothers Robert and Dan qualified for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) for the first time. The following year Billy joined them resulting in the first time three brothers qualified for a single event at the NFR. Traveling down the road, the brothers would share in their success by pooling all of their money together to pay entries and travel expenses.

“When one of us did well, we all shared in the benefits and if one of us had a bad day – which we all did from time to time – we would help the other out by picking up the tab and also giving some advice,” Billy recalls.

Their means of transportation was a Datsun pickup, logging 150,000 miles a year competing at 150 rodeos. Though the Etbauer brothers hung their hats in Oklahoma, their South Dakota roots remained strong.

1992 was very good year for the then 29-year-old cowboy. Besides capturing his first World Saddle Bronc Title, he also captured the heart of a young lady, Hollie Cherry, whom he met at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, OK. In 1993 Billy had back surgery, which gave the couple more time together. Following their marriage in April 1994, the couple relocated to Edmond OK where they reside today.

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Family has always been a top priority of the Etbauers. Kord (14), Jacie (12) and Treg (9) are all following in the footsteps of their parents. Hollie, a horse-woman, barrel racer and National High School pole bending champion in 1985-1986 has always appreciated a good, fast horse. Shortly after Billy and Hollie were married, they began a horse breeding program combining speed with ranch bloodlines just as Pat Cowan did in South Dakota. In 2004 a stallion was purchased from T-4 Quarter Horses (Tigh, Treg and Tork Cowan); PC Frost Bid, a 2000 buckskin sired by Sun Frost out of a Gee Gee Decade (a paternal half brother to PC Frenchmans Hayday owned and ridden by Sherry Cervi). “Frosty” currently competes in barrel racing and is ridden by Hollie on the professional level and showing great progress.

The Etbauers keep themselves busy with the horse activities on their 440-acre ranch in Edmund. Throughout the fall, winter and spring they pasture 200-300 recip mares in preparation as embryo transplants. When time allows, Billy starts colts with sixty days riding and lets Hollie take over on the training. Billy has also seen it necessary to preserve his South Dakota roots by obtaining the family’s 5,000-acre ranch, which was home to his parents and grandparents before him.

Etbauer can select his rodeos with more care because of sponsorship from Express Ranches of Yukon OK. “I don’t need to travel to 150 rodeos to stay competitive. I take it one horse at a time. If I do my job of staying injury-free, the rest takes care of itself,” he says. Beside the strong presence of his sponsors, Billy attributes his success to the stock contractors and the bucking horses he draws.

Billy shares his rodeo time with all of his family. The children are home-schooled by Hollie, which allows the family to travel together. Hollie and the kids enjoy barrel racing competitions and just recently, with the help of Robert and Billy, Kord has been practice riding on steers with a bronc saddle.

“Our utmost concern is that everyone including myself remains safe and healthy. I don’t like to put too young of kids on broncs to learn from. The steers are slower and gives them a chance to feel the saddle and the buck,” Billy says.

Because of Etbauer’s love and dedication for rodeo, his saddle bronc career continues to take him to the pay window. In September 2010, Billy’s lifetime earnings in saddle bronc riding topped the three million dollar mark; a record of any cowboy in one single event. These earnings were a result of 22 years of riding history, 21 consecutive times qualifying for the Wrangler NFR in Las Vegas Nevada and winning 51 go-rounds at the NFR. Etbauer holds the title of the highest score during the NFR, capturing a 93-point ride on Kool Alley in 2004 and five world titles; 1992, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2004.

2010 was the first time Etbauer attended the NFR as a spectator, but he has certainly not hung his hat up yet. “I really feel like one of the old guys now, but I thank God daily for all my blessings. I have no desire to quit at this point. I’m healthy and have wonderful support from my family, friends and fans. I look at myself as a ‘work in progress,'” he says.

As of January 2011, Etbauer leads the World Standings. It won’t come as much of a surprise to see him back at the NFR competing in fine form. Wouldn’t it be grand to add another world title to his resume, tying with the legendary Casey Tibbs and Dan Mortenson?

Rodeo is one of the oldest original competitive sports known in the U.S. South Dakota can also boast of one of the largest and oldest organizations associated with rodeo. Because of this, rodeo has been recognized by the State Legislature declaring it the state’s sport in 2003. It is only fitting that Billy Etbauer, Ree Hights, SD-native, recently became the first and only cowboy in the world to obtain three million dollars in career earnings in a single rodeo event – saddle bronc riding.

Born in 1963 to Lyle and Betty Etbauer, Billy is the second oldest son with siblings Robert, Wanda and Danny. Growing up on the ranch, the Etbauers spent a lifetime raising and working with cattle and horses. They were also very fortunate to be neighbors and family friends of the Cowans and Fultons who raised and trained quality horses and participated in the sport of rodeo. Beginning as most youngsters do by participating in local playdays and 4-H, Billy recalls his brother Robert being influential in his desire to ride broncs.

After graduating from high school Billy stayed on at the ranch. 1988 served as his rookie year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). That same year his brothers Robert and Dan qualified for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) for the first time. The following year Billy joined them resulting in the first time three brothers qualified for a single event at the NFR. Traveling down the road, the brothers would share in their success by pooling all of their money together to pay entries and travel expenses.

“When one of us did well, we all shared in the benefits and if one of us had a bad day – which we all did from time to time – we would help the other out by picking up the tab and also giving some advice,” Billy recalls.

Their means of transportation was a Datsun pickup, logging 150,000 miles a year competing at 150 rodeos. Though the Etbauer brothers hung their hats in Oklahoma, their South Dakota roots remained strong.

1992 was very good year for the then 29-year-old cowboy. Besides capturing his first World Saddle Bronc Title, he also captured the heart of a young lady, Hollie Cherry, whom he met at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, OK. In 1993 Billy had back surgery, which gave the couple more time together. Following their marriage in April 1994, the couple relocated to Edmond OK where they reside today.

Family has always been a top priority of the Etbauers. Kord (14), Jacie (12) and Treg (9) are all following in the footsteps of their parents. Hollie, a horse-woman, barrel racer and National High School pole bending champion in 1985-1986 has always appreciated a good, fast horse. Shortly after Billy and Hollie were married, they began a horse breeding program combining speed with ranch bloodlines just as Pat Cowan did in South Dakota. In 2004 a stallion was purchased from T-4 Quarter Horses (Tigh, Treg and Tork Cowan); PC Frost Bid, a 2000 buckskin sired by Sun Frost out of a Gee Gee Decade (a paternal half brother to PC Frenchmans Hayday owned and ridden by Sherry Cervi). “Frosty” currently competes in barrel racing and is ridden by Hollie on the professional level and showing great progress.

The Etbauers keep themselves busy with the horse activities on their 440-acre ranch in Edmund. Throughout the fall, winter and spring they pasture 200-300 recip mares in preparation as embryo transplants. When time allows, Billy starts colts with sixty days riding and lets Hollie take over on the training. Billy has also seen it necessary to preserve his South Dakota roots by obtaining the family’s 5,000-acre ranch, which was home to his parents and grandparents before him.

Etbauer can select his rodeos with more care because of sponsorship from Express Ranches of Yukon OK. “I don’t need to travel to 150 rodeos to stay competitive. I take it one horse at a time. If I do my job of staying injury-free, the rest takes care of itself,” he says. Beside the strong presence of his sponsors, Billy attributes his success to the stock contractors and the bucking horses he draws.

Billy shares his rodeo time with all of his family. The children are home-schooled by Hollie, which allows the family to travel together. Hollie and the kids enjoy barrel racing competitions and just recently, with the help of Robert and Billy, Kord has been practice riding on steers with a bronc saddle.

“Our utmost concern is that everyone including myself remains safe and healthy. I don’t like to put too young of kids on broncs to learn from. The steers are slower and gives them a chance to feel the saddle and the buck,” Billy says.

Because of Etbauer’s love and dedication for rodeo, his saddle bronc career continues to take him to the pay window. In September 2010, Billy’s lifetime earnings in saddle bronc riding topped the three million dollar mark; a record of any cowboy in one single event. These earnings were a result of 22 years of riding history, 21 consecutive times qualifying for the Wrangler NFR in Las Vegas Nevada and winning 51 go-rounds at the NFR. Etbauer holds the title of the highest score during the NFR, capturing a 93-point ride on Kool Alley in 2004 and five world titles; 1992, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2004.

2010 was the first time Etbauer attended the NFR as a spectator, but he has certainly not hung his hat up yet. “I really feel like one of the old guys now, but I thank God daily for all my blessings. I have no desire to quit at this point. I’m healthy and have wonderful support from my family, friends and fans. I look at myself as a ‘work in progress,'” he says.

As of January 2011, Etbauer leads the World Standings. It won’t come as much of a surprise to see him back at the NFR competing in fine form. Wouldn’t it be grand to add another world title to his resume, tying with the legendary Casey Tibbs and Dan Mortenson?

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