American Rodeo: Local youth competing for big money
Two young area athletes are trying their luck at the American Semi Finals at the Cowtown Coliseum in Ft. Worth, Texas this week.
Herbie O’Daniel of Kadoka, South Dakota received the opportunity to compete at the Semi Finals through a qualifier close to home. His top ten finish at the Rapid City Qualifier punched his ticket to Ft. Worth. “My plan was to just to try and knock two down and try to make the short go,” he says of the South Dakota event, put on by Allen Good. Matter of fact, the Good family is a large part of Herbie’s foundation. “They taught me how to bulldog when I was 12 or 13,” says O’Daniel.
Lyman Cauliflower of Ridgeview, South Dakota hazed for him at the qualifier, and traveled with O’Daniel to Texas. Their other companion, Casey Stone, of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, hazed for O’Daniel at the Semi Finals. Herbie was in good company. “Both Lyman and Casey are INFR World Champion Steer Wrestlers and have been active in the Indian rodeos and PRCA. They’ve been there and done it all and are teaching me more and more every time. These past few months Lyman has been letting me ride this amazing horse of his called ‘The Red Witch,’ and Casey has been helping me with practice and has been hazing for me.”
O’Daniel was impressed by the heightened competition. “It was a whole other level. Stuff was moving fast,” he says. “It wasn’t so much of a drawing match as it was seeing who got out the best.” However, he never felt at a disadvantage, saying, “I felt like I had just about as much chance as the next guy down there.”
He ran his two steers at the Coliseum on Tuesday, but with little luck. Despite the setback, O’Daniel still has an impressive track record, being a high school state champion steer wrestler and the current Great Plains Indian Rodeo Year-End champion.
He got his unique name from a relative with a shared trait. “I had a great-grandpa named Herb. They told me he used to throw fits, and when I was a little baby, I used to throw fits, so that’s how I got my name.” The young athlete is studying architectural design and building construction at Mitchell Technical Institute, while competing on the rodeo team.
Paige Moore of Rosebud, Montana also tested herself against the clock this week in Ft. Worth. “Yesterday, there was 280 teams. We had an exhibition, and I knew the ground was kind of deep, but we didn’t really have a choice.”
Moore’s time was a couple hundredths too slow, but due to a new rule at the American this year, she gets a second chance. “You had to be in the top thirty and I was a 14.4, and was 25th, but ended up a couple out, so I bought back in. I’m 21st out, so that’s on top of the ground. I was on the bottom of the ground, so maybe that’ll be to an advantage to me. He always has made a better run when he was on top of the ground, because he’s smaller.”
“He,” her cremello horse, named “Astro,” has been Paige’s partner for a few years now. “I bought him when he was ten, and he’s fourteen now.” The pair won Montana state high school finals, and competed in college for a year together. The team has also overcome their share of adversity, after Moore was in an accident with her pickup and trailer on the way to a college rodeo. Astro was on board. “I was okay, but I had a back on track blanket on him and his boots and he was in the front of the trailer. He was pinned down by all the other horses, plus whatever was in between. We had to cut him out. He was banged up and stuff, but nothing too major. It took him a year to recover.” She feels very fortunate to run him.
As mentioned, Moore is one of the 112 “buy backs” in the barrel racing event. The new policy is getting a lot of buzz from contestants and fans alike. Moore is thankful for a second chance. O’Daniel says, “I don’t really know what to think about the buy back policy. I don’t really see anything wrong it it by any means. If anything, it’s putting more money up for grabs and giving more contestants a shot at being a millionaire. I mean, it’s kind of hard to pass up a million.”
Moore explains, “You have to be in the top thirty. If you don’t make it in the top thirty, you can buy back in for $375. If I remember right, if there was fifty that bought back in, they’d only take the #1 hole. If there was 100 that bought back in, they’d take the top two holes. If there’s 101 entered, they’ll take back the top three. So, you just have to be at the top, and you’ll make it back to the performances.”
Amy Wilson, host of “Western Sports Weekly” on RFD-TV adds her two cents, “It’s forward thinking and helps meet the necessary entries to make up the $1 million sidepot. Plus, it should help entries throughout the year because now there’s a second chance and added security to the investment to get to the semis. Change can be a good thing.”
She continues, “It takes 4,000 entries to make up the $1 million sidepot. If that number isn’t met, RFD makes up the difference.
It’s like a 100 percent payback jackpot. Of the $500 entry fee, 25 percent is paid at the qualifier race, 25 percent will be carried over to the Semi-Finals, and 50 percent will be carried over to The American. Last year $500,000 was also added to the semis. The payout is based on entries throughout the year, so that’s why the shootout in the barrels will pay $40,000 and the bareback won’t be much at all at the semis.
“The entire amount – 100 percent – of the entry fee money, the original $500 and the buy back $375, is paid out,” she explained. “Once 4,000 entries are reached, then the percentage that would have gone to the $1,000,000 sidepot, goes to the semi finals pay out. I think that’s important for people to realize.”
RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo has been innovative since its start in 2014, paying out $2.5 million each year. Maybe the “world’s richest one day rodeo” is ahead of the curve on this matter.
There are many more athletes from the Tri-State Livestock News territory competing for the big win at the American Rodeo.