Brunson’s ride ends with Kennewick win
Louie Brunson wanted to ride Big Bend Rodeo’s Kool Toddy in the worst way and the journey to get him there turned out pretty much like that: the worst way. It was a harrowing 20-hour drive from his home in Interior, S.D., to Kennewick that was filled with challenges, setbacks and the need for a succession of vehicles – three of them in all.
Brunson was up at the Horse Heaven Round-Up Rodeo on Aug. 22, but just a half-hour into his trip his car broke down. His car had a fuel pump that was failing, so he called up fellow saddle bronc rider Cole Elshere and was lucky enough to borrow his van. Lucky until he got about 12 miles from the little town of Superior, Mont.
“I really needed to get to that rodeo, and my two options were hit the road and hitchhike – which I would’ve done to ride Kool Toddy – or buy a used car at the dealership in Superior,” said Brunson, who was able to coast into town before the van’s transmission went out completely. “I went over and checked out what the car lot had and bought the cheapest car they had.”
Brunson wrote a $2,000 check for a 1988 Pontiac 6000, and he was back on the road, hoping to make it to Kennewick in time for his date with the 12-year-old mare.
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“This thing runs like a champ,” Brunson said of his new ride, which only had 95,000 miles on it. “There’s no way I’m getting rid of this thing now; it’s the only reliable car I currently own and it has to be a good luck charm.”
Brunson’s 90-point ride on Kool Toddy held up as the best score of the rodeo and earned him $4,258 (both man and horse earned 45 of a possible 50 points from the judges). Dustin Flundra also drew Kool Toddy on the final night of the rodeo, riding for 86 points and second place. After all the car trouble and the $2,000 investment to make it to Kennewick, it was well worth it for Brunson, who hasn’t had his best season.
“It’s been a slow summer and I haven’t been able to win much in any of the short rounds,” he said. “The last few weeks have been good, and this weekend was really nice.”
In addition to his win in Kennewick, Brunson picked up another $843 for splitting second place in Lynden, Wash. Of course, he rode in style from one rodeo to the other in his new lucky charm.
“You can’t just leave a classic like this beauty behind,” Brunson said of the Pontiac 6000. “I just picked up Bryce Miller and Chad Ferley at the airport in this bad boy and it’s my ride for the rest of the summer.”
Other winners at the $164,899 rodeo were all-around champion Shane Erickson ($1,212 in team roping and tie-down roping), bareback riders Bobby Mote and Kaycee Feild (85 points each), steer wrestler Wade Sumpter (7.8 seconds on two head), team ropers Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill (10.5 seconds on two head), tie-down roper Hunter Herrin (16.0 seconds on two head), bull rider Shane Proctor (83 points) and barrel racer Pamela Capper (17.15 seconds).
Herrin’s check for $4,443 pushed him past the $1 million mark in career earnings. He is the 112th cowboy in PRCA history to reach that milestone and the third this month, following K.C. Jones and Bradley Harter. Herrin, of Apache, Okla., is at $1,000,839 and counting.
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