Saddle-maker Clarys also saddle bronc champion
When Andy Clarys mounts up for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo next spring he might be the only saddle bronc rider in the field who built his own saddle.
Clarys has been working for G Bar G Saddles “off and on for six years,” and that includes building his own saddle alongside the company’s co-owner, Randy George, at the workshop in Riverton, WY.
Need an endorsement for the workmanship? It would be hard to come up with a better one than a review of the Oct. 25-27, Ram Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo at the Sweetwater Events Center.
It was there that Clarys shared the first-round win with three-time Mountain States Circuit year-end champion Jake Griffin with an 80-point ride and then won the next two rounds outright with scores of 79 and a rodeo-best 86.
His total score of 245 points was a whopping 19 better than second-place finisher Lyle Welling of Crawford, NE.
“I drew some dang good horses,” Clarys said. “I got two horses of J.D. Hamaker’s from the Burns Company and another good one from Southwick’s Rocky Mountain Rodeo. Big Wig, the Burns horse I drew in the third round … Jesse Wright was just on the front page of the ProRodeo Sports News (Oct. 12 issue) with that horse. And Big Wig sure did his part for me.”
For the record: Jesse Wright rode Big Wig for 85 points to win the final round of the Justin Boots Championships in Omaha, NE, last month – one point less than Clarys’ ride.
Clarys grew up in Marshall, ND,
the tiny unincorporated community that produced four-time World
Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Brad Gjermundson and Clarys (pronounced Claris, rhyming with another North Dakota sports icon, Roger Maris) drew early comparisons to Gjermundson, who was his mentor.
Competing for Richardton-Taylor High School, Clarys finished second in saddle bronc riding at the state high school finals as a sophomore before winning back-to-back state titles and earning a rodeo scholarship to Central Wyoming College in Riverton, where he twice qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo.
Since buying his PRCA card in 2008, he has largely focused on competing close to home, bouncing back and forth between the Mountain States and the Badlands circuits, while learning the craft of saddle making. Clarys moved back to Riverton this year when he got a call from G Bar G and is working on building a house there.
He didn’t compete much early in the season, but came on strong in the late summer, winning four rodeos in a three-week span with three of those – in Steamboat Springs, CO, Breckenridge, CO, and Douglas, WY – coming during the first week of August, lifting him to sixth in the Mountain States Circuit standings.
Still, he arrived at the RMSCFR with little thought of winning the thing and earning a spot at the Nationals in Oklahoma City.
“No, actually I hadn’t thought about it at all,” Clarys said. “I just wanted to ride bucking horses. That was my focus. Nothing else. I had kind of a disappointing time of it the week before at a futurity and at the NILE ProRodeo in Billings and I wanted to get that out of my head.
“It’s exciting to qualify for the RNCFR and I look forward to competing there, now that I have qualified. The win this weekend and making Nationals (with $500,000 in total prize money) really helps with my plans for the house.”
The other Ram Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo champions were bareback rider Casey Colletti (249 points on three head), steer wrestler Seth Brockman (14.2 seconds on three head), team ropers Paul Beckett and T.W. Wilson (17.8 seconds on three head), tie-down roper Chase Johnston (29.9 seconds on three head), bull rider Kody Pierce (166 points on two head) and barrel racer Ilene Choal (49.04 seconds on three runs). Pierce earned his win despite spraining his right shoulder when he was bucked off in the second round; he came back from that to post an 82-point ride in the final go. F