Marvin Garrett Colt Challenge proves successful
The names “Burch” and “Gillette” are almost synonymous when speaking in terms of exciting bucking horse action. The New Years’ Eve Buck n’ Ball draws huge crowds, the college rodeo hosted by Gillette College every spring showcases the up-and-coming talent, and now there is a new reason to journey to the Camplex to watch the thrill of Wyoming-grown bucking horses. The Camplex hosted the first annual Marvin Garrett Colt Challenge Feb. 23.
The idea was born of four-time world champion bareback rider, Marvin Garrett, who is a native of northeastern Wyoming, like the well-known Burch Rodeo Company. Garrett noticed a trend. Stock contractors, such as Powder River Rodeo Company, were hosting colt ridings for young students to ride, with no entry fees and for scholarship money. “There’s so many of these contractors that need colts bucked, I thought, ‘We ought to try to put a little money in the cowboys’ pocket in the college region.’ That’s kind of what I established. I talked to Burch and they had about eighty head of colts that needed bucked,” Garrett said. At the other colt ridings, cowboys got on as many as they desired. Garrett decided to turn his event into more formal affair, with three performances and payout to the top four in each round. There were 14 bronc riders and nine bareback riders in the inaugural year, with mutton busting action during the breaks.
Kenneth Kirk Thomson (K’s, for short) participated in the bronc riding over the weekend, placing second in the first round on Saturday morning, fourth in the second round on Saturday evening, with some tough luck in the third round on Sunday afternoon. The Lundbreck, Alberta native attends Casper College and is inspired by Garrett’s outlook. “He won four world championships getting on everything that nowadays we don’t want to,” said Thomson. According to Thomson, Garrett’s ability to ride the “eliminators” led to his success. “All my heroes are cowboys, all my favorite bronc riders, bareback riders, even team ropers, like Derrick Begay. I like all the guys that are cowboys about it and Marvin definitely was, so if you can do something to impress him, it really boosts your confidence,” said Thomson.
Garrett has been an assistant rodeo coach at Gillette College for four years. “It just keeps me involved. I loved rodeoing and it was a great way to make a living, if you did it right, and I see so much potential in all our kids that want to do it. I just really want to help each individual with each challenge they have,” he said. He started the Colt Challenge for students like Thomson in the Central Rocky Mountain Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. Garrett said, “I kind of wanted to help our region out. I think it’ll kind of put a little bit of an attraction on our region.”
Thomson asserts that both riders and broncs are strong in the area. “We have a pretty good region of bronc riders. A lot of bronc riders like staying up north because that’s where the good broncs are,” he said. According to bucking horse riders, Burch colts are no exception. “They have a rep,” said Thomson. “You didn’t know what was coming. You talk yourself into getting on one, because you never know if the next one you get on is going to be the next Lunatic From Hell.”
The Challenge is poised to grow for next year, with Garrett’s ideas to expand and sponsors eager to help. He hopes to add steer riding to pair with mutton busting for the next generation, as well as a clown for more entertainment to match the projected larger crowd. “The biggest deal to me was to make an event where the college kids could win some money. I hope to get it to where they can win thousands of dollars instead of hundreds.” He also plans to add a final shootout round to round out the weekend, with two or four cowboys per event competing in a head-to-head match for a bigger purse. “It’s going to be one of those events that’s probably going to be a big deal to the college rodeo cowboys. Every year hopefully it gets bigger and better.” Garrett appreciates the support from Burch Rodeo, Hayden Ranch, Dean’s Field Service and Welding, Sharp Trucking, Elite Industrial, Newcastle Motors, BHE WyoDak, Mike Fuller Law Office, Pinnacle Bank, Camp-Plex, Tin Wagon Boutique, Brad Shawver- Private, LBJ Ranch, Gillette College and Lee Isenburger.
The experience for both the Burch colts and the cowboys will make for an action-packed weekend as Marvin Garrett and his Gillette College rodeo team host the March 15-17th rodeo at the Camplex. F