Dance to Las Vegas Young bronc rider achieves a dream
WNFR Saddle Bronc qualifier Cole Elshere, 22 (he will celebrate his 23rd birthday on Dec. 12, at the WNFR) got on – and was promptly bucked off – his first bronc at the age of 13 at a rodeo Bible camp in Kadoka, SD. “I always watched my cousins J.J. (Elshere, four-time WNFR qualifier) and Ryan (Elshere) when they were riding bucking horses and I always wanted to be a bronc rider like they were.”
The Faith, SD, cowboy says his cousin J.J. and a few others were coaching young hopefuls including himself at camp that week. “I got on another one that day and that one throwed me off over the front and kicked me and I ended up getting staples in my head,” he recalls. But that didn’t slow him down. “That winter I went and practiced with J.J. in Jeff Gabriel’s barn. We’d put the bronc saddle on old roping steers, then at the end of winter I got on some horses and I guess it just went on from there.”
“I got bucked off a lot, I practiced a lot … I entered a lot of 4-H and high school rodeos and it took me a long time to get to where I could stay on them,” he said. “They all seemed pretty hard to ride at first. I remember my junior year of high school when I rode this horse called I’m No Angel from Waln Rodeo Company for 78 points at a high school rodeo, that was a pretty big ride for me. I made it to the high school finals my senior year in barebacks, saddle bronc and bull riding.”
While on a rodeo scholarship to Gillette, WY, college, Cole won the region twice in the saddle bronc and had a good chance to win the year-end but “I dropped my bronc rein. I never did have anything go real well there,” he said.
Now, Elshere, who has only been out of college for a year, and who was named the runner up PRCA rookie of the year last year is headed to Las Vegas, NV, for his first WNFR, sitting 13th in the world.
In his quest to make it to the big rodeo, things were looking good almost from the start. “I got on Flaming Desire of Stace Smith’s at Kansas City – that was the first big rodeo of the year, and I ended up splitting that one with one of my buddies – that was a real boost to start the year. I started riding better – started being more consistent in my riding and it all just gradually came together.”
Elshere would like the chance to ride Flaming Desire at the WNFR.
“I’m going to start off by trying to win every round and see how it goes,” he said. A friend, neighbor and past WNFR contestant, Ken Lensegrav offered Elshere some useful advice. “I was just talking to him the other day and he said that I should dance with the same partner that took me to the finals, in other words, keep riding in the same style I’ve been riding because that is what got me here, and hopefully that is what will help me win.”
Elshere said his traveling partners this past year – Chuck Schmidt, Troy Crowser and Jesse Bail, all fellow South Dakota bronc riders, helped keep him motivated and he tried to do the same for them. “We are all pretty close in age, so it works well. We had a lot of fun together – before the rodeo in Boise, Idaho, we went to a water park all morning, that was pretty fun. Troy and I really keep each other motivated and aggressive. It helps a lot to be around people with goals similar to yours and who can push you toward them. There isn’t a lot of negative competition between bronc riders because you mostly have to compete against your horse and try to do the best you can, the other guys aren’t involved in the moment that you are in the arena.” Elshere’s traveling buddies plan to take part in a futurity bronc match to be held during the WNFR and you can bet he’ll be there to cheer them on. “I’ll go watch them and then they’ll probably watch me in the finals that night,” he said.
When not riding broncs, Cole is busy ranching with his parents Andy and Donella in western South Dakota. He appreciates all the help his family has offered thoughout the years. “My dad helped me practice every week all through high school. He’d line up horses and guys to pick up, my sister Kami and mom would video-tape and open chute gates. My cousins J.J. and Ryan started me off with some of their old equipment and showed me the dos and don’ts. I also got to travel with them my first two years and I learned a lot on the road with them.”
Cole appreciates his sponsors Panhandle Slim, SweetPro and Rodeomart. He gives thanks to the Lord for blessing him with such opportunities and advises young up-and-comers to practice hard and set lofty goals … then work hard to achieve them. “I always knew I’d make it to the WNFR, I just didn’t know how or when,” he said.
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A strong windstorm blew through Garfield County, Nebraska, the afternoon of May 12, bringing damage to the rodeo grounds in Burwell, the home of Nebraska’s Big Rodeo.