Rough and Tough: Breuer, Breding, Cress, Brooks to ride roughstock at WNFR
Four roughstock cowboys from North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana have qualified for the 60th annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR).
Ty Breuer, Mandan, N.D., Parker Breding, Edgar, Mont., Brody Cress, Hillsdale, Wyo., and Chase Brooks, Butte, Mont., have all finished in the top fifteen in their respective events, and will be in Las Vegas for the WNFR December 6-15.
Breuer is a bareback rider; Cress and Brooks are saddle bronc riders, and Breding is a bull rider. Of the four, Breuer is the veteran; this will be his fourth trip. For Breding, it’s his third, for Cress, it’s the second trip, and for Brooks, this is his inaugural year at the WNFR.
Breuer, who is 28 years old, rodeoed differently this year. Smarter, he said. “I was a lot smarter about how I went,” he said. “I got on horses I knew I had a chance to win a check on.” Once he learned his draw, he would call buddies who had ridden the horse or he checked the bucking horse stats on prorodeo.com. “You have to start taking care of your body, not going and getting on horses you don’t know or that don’t have stats. There are times you have to get on those horses, but there are times you don’t have to, either.”
Breuer ranches with his parents, Ed and Penny, and his grandparents, Ed and Dalas Breuer, south of Mandan. Ranch work is part of his physical workout to train for the WNFR, but he’s going to a trainer, too, working on core strength. The training is three times a week, before daylight, so he can come home and work all day.
He traveled with fellow bareback riders Steven Dent (who has also qualified for the WNFR), Tanner Aus, and JR Vezain, and he loved it. “I wouldn’t want to travel with anybody else. Those guys were a good group to travel with.” The four often won the top four places at a rodeo. “Whenever we showed up, you knew we were riding for first, second, third and fourth. It’s fun when you travel with three of the best.”
Breuer does regret that Vezain won’t compete at the WNFR. The Cowley, Wyo. cowboy suffered a broken back during September; the injury keeps Vezain out of competing at his sixth WNFR. “It just sucks,” Breuer said of Vezain’s injury. “You try and block it out, but it dang sure makes you think. You never know when your last horse will be. So every time you nod your head, give it everything you’ve got, like it’ll be your last one.”
Breuer is married to Kelli; they have a daughter, Kayd, who is one year old, and a second child on the way, due in June. They will both be in Las Vegas during the WNFR, as will his parents, and grandparents Ed and Dalas Breuer and Lloyd and Peggy Nelson. Granddad Bob Abrahamson will be watching on TV from home.
Breuer enters the WNFR in twelfth place with $91,558.39 won.
Bull rider Parker Breding had the best year of his rodeo career.
The 26-year-old cowboy started off by winning the RAM Montana Circuit Finals year-end and average titles in January, then the RAM National Circuit Finals in Kissimmee in April. “I was trying to get out there (on the rodeo trail) and get back on top of things and be relevant. It ended up taking off and being more than I was hoping for. I was extremely blessed.”
He got his start by riding calves at brandings. “I got the crap beat out of me, doing that, and I’m surprised I wanted to keep at it,” he said. His dad, Scott, led him into it, but never pressured him to do it. He rode his first steer at age ten at the Cody (Wyo.) Night Rodeo, and “that did it for me. I never looked back, and I loved it immediately.” He won $30 for it. “I wish I had framed” the check, he said. “That was huge for me. It was the first time I stayed on and I’ll never forget that.”
Five-time WNFR qualifier Scott Breding is proud of how his son is doing. His dad “considers me to be doing way better than he did,” Breding said. “But I disagree with that.” Scott didn’t qualify for the WNFR till he was 30 years old (he qualified in 1994-1997 and 1999). “I’m way ahead of that, so if he had had the opportunities that I had, I know he’d have been a world champion. He had quite the career. If I could do as much as he did, I’d be thrilled.”
Breding has changed his preparations for the WNFR this year. In past years, he didn’t get on many bulls before the WNFR, but not this year. He won Casper, Wyo. on November 3 and will get on a few bulls at a bull riding school in Miles City, Mont., this weekend. He’ll also do some hunting near Helena or Miles City. “It’s quite a bit of walking, and I could use that, and hopefully get some meat in the freezer.”
He is ranked second in the world, more than $110,000 behind the number one man, Sage Kimzey, who has won $297,025. He knows it will be tough to make up that much money at the WNFR. “If everything went how it needed to go, I could catch him. But it’s quite a mountain in front of me, to do that. I’m trying not to think about that and put blinders on.” Breding’s primary goal is to make ten qualified rides. “If I could ride ten bulls, it would dang sure make things interesting.”
Parker’s parents, Scott and Jana, his older sister Lacey and younger brother Jase will be in Las Vegas to cheer him on.
Brody Cress qualified for his second WNFR but did not finish the season like he had planned.
The saddle bronc rider was ranked second in the world when he broke his right ankle at a saddle bronc riding in Sentinel Butte, N.D. on August 4.
After two surgeries, three plates, and 25 screws, Cress will be ready for the WNFR. He hasn’t ridden competitively since the accident, but plans on getting on some practice horses in California before he heads to Vegas.
The injury broke his fibia in half and shattered the bottom of the tibia. It happened when he jumped off the bronc, instead of waiting for the pickup man. “The injury came of my own accord,” he said. “People told me to stop jumping off and I wouldn’t listen. You learn lessons like that. I guarantee I won’t be jumping off any bucking horse, unless I absolutely have to.”
Cress won the average at last year’s WNFR and finished as reserve champion by $2400 behind the world champ Ryder Wright. Having the experience at the WNFR is so helpful. “It’s nice to know what to expect, especially since I’m facing a different challenge coming into it.”
He’s also excited to get back to the WNFR. “It’s surreal there,” he said. “The atmosphere in that building, to ride against that level of guys, for that much money, it’s outstanding.”
Cress has dropped four spots in the standings since his injury in August; he enters the WNFR in sixth place with $111,587.67 won.
His parents, Tommy and Lannette Cress, and his older brother Blaze, will be on hand to watch him ride in Las Vegas.
The rookie of the bunch is saddle bronc rider Chase Brooks.
Brooks, of Butte, Montana, made his first appearance in the pro rodeo world standings on July 9, after a phenomenal Fourth of July run. Over the Fourth, Brooks won first place at rodeos in Prescott, Ariz., Livingston, Mont., Belle Fourche, S.D., and St. Paul, Ore. “It was a good time to hit a hot streak, that’s for sure,” he said.
He grew up thinking he would be a bull rider. He rode mini bulls and junior bulls, then started roping. In high school, though, he switched interests. “I decided I didn’t want to deal with (roping) horses, and bulls are scary. I thought the bronc rider on the buckle looked pretty cool, so I decided to go with that one.”
But even as a youngster, he was watching saddle bronc riding. “My parents have pictures of me watching the NFR when I was two years old,” he said. He also liked saddle bronc riding legend Billy Etbauer. “I watched Billy on TV. Every bronc rider looks up to Billy. I always liked his style: all or nothing.”
Towards the end of the rodeo season, it was nip and tuck for the 24 year old, who was ranked seventeenth the week before the season ended. He and saddle bronc rider J.J. Elshere, Hereford, S.D., who was ranked eighteenth, went to the same rodeos the last weekend of the season, but on Sept. 30 (the last day of the 2018 rodeo year), Brooks had moved into fifteenth hole and Elshere into sixteenth. Only about $400 separated the two. “It was cool to be in the race with him,” Brooks said. “I’ve been watching him ride forever. I remember looking up to him in high school.”
Brooks is prepping for his first trip to the WNFR with time in the gym, stretching and the spur board. And he’s excited. “It’s been a damn good season. I’ve never had any luck remotely this close. It’ll be awesome, to get on the best ten horses for ten days. That’s the best way to rodeo, right there.”
His parents Matt and Shannon Brooks, younger brother Dalton, and grandparents Scott and Suzie Graveley will be in Las Vegas to cheer him on.
He enters the WNFR in last hole, with $76,141.28 won.
The WNFR runs Dec. 6-15 with ten consecutive nights of rodeo. It is held in Las Vegas at the Thomas and Mack Arena, and after the final performance on Dec. 15, world champions are determined in each of seven events. Fans can watch the action live, online, for a fee, at http://www.ProRodeoTV.com.
For more information on the WNFR and the PRCA, visit http://www.ProRodeo.com.