Interior produces top horse, cowboy

The Top Horse of the 2020 Official BHSS Ranch Rodeo is a trusted partner and a gentleman. Photo courtesy of Charlie Risse

The Black Hills Stock Show features a host of events representative of stockmen, horsemen, professional rodeo athletes, and everything in between. Perhaps the perfect blend of action-packed rodeo and real ranch work was the 2020 Black Hills Stock Show Official Ranch Rodeo.

Rollie Wilson of Bowman, North Dakota, originally from Interior, South Dakota, was honored with the Top Hand Award after several rounds of speed events and ranch bronc riding.

His team, representing Blake’s Trailer Sales, had a strong morning in the preliminary round, as they finished the trifecta event of stray gathering, trailer loading, and doctoring in well under the five-minute time limit. The team’s winning streak faded in the evening’s performance, but Wilson was still recognized for his abilities as a top hand.

Other team members included Joe Painter, Casey Holmes, and Taylor Williams, of the Buffalo, South Dakota, area. “I’ve been on their team for five or six years now. They’re pretty handy ropers, pretty handy guys,” Wilson said.

Like most ranch rodeo competitors, it’s a way of life. “I’ve been doing it since I came out,” Wilson jokes. He grew up ranching near Interior, South Dakota. “All my aunts and uncles ranch and then I married into Floyds up here,” he said. He and his wife, C.J., raise cattle with C.J.’s family, and also raise horses for sale. Rollie trains horses for himself and his family but is not taking any outside horses at the moment.

Wilson held his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association card for 14 years, qualifying to the Badlands Circuit Finals for 12 of those. He is also a multiple-time Indian National Finals Rodeo All-Around Champion and currently running the high school rodeo circuit with his own children.

According to him, riding a ranch bronc is nothing like crawling on a regular bucking horse. “Ranch broncs is nothing close to what a real bronc is. Those guys that do that ranch bronc deal, they’re tough guys,” he said.

Wilson’s team has had past success at the Sutton Ranch Rodeo (also during the BHSS), as well as local ranch rodeos.

The region of South Dakota Badlands was well represented in the ranch rodeo awards ceremony. Not only did a man originally from Interior win the Top Hand Award, a horse belonging to an Interior man was honored.

Charlie Risse is the proud owner of the palomino gelding “Chaos,” who so impressed the judges as to win the Top Horse award in a field of over 140.

“He’s probably my favorite around here. And the go-to, of course. If I need to go rope something big or drag something in the trailer, or something I need to feel safe sorting on, he’s the guy I go catch,” Risse said.

Despite technological advances in ranching, there are some situations that simply require a cowboy and a good horse. A dependable partner is crucial, especially in dangerous situations. “We have a lot of rough country that you can’t get to with side-by-sides or four-wheelers. A lot of Badlands and stuff like that. You’ve gotta load cows on trailers. Every once in a while, rope and tie stuff down. He does a lot of brandings and sorts a lot of cows and calves in the fall.

“This fall, my neighbor had 2,500 pound, old longhorn steers, some Badlands runners, that we had to go chase down and rope them and load them in the half top. He’s pretty good for stuff like that,” Risse said.

A few ranch rodeo events were small beans for Chaos, compared to a regular day’s work. “That was a day off for him,” Risse said.

What Chaos’s papers may lack in pedigree, he makes up for in color and heart. “He’s out of a grade mare and a Shining Spark stud. He’s always been. . . a hell of a horse,” Risse said.

The two have had a special bond from birth: “He’s actually the first one I myself raised,” he said.

Risse joined up with his brother, Jesse, Guy Fransua, and Tagg Petrak to form the Lakota Funds team. The men finished fifth overall.

McPherson auction was the 2020 champion team for the second year in a row, with members Marty McPherson, Brent McInerney, Tanner McInerney, and Clint Nelson contributing to the victory.

Rollie, Charlie, and the members of the winning team each took home a new saddle, along with other prizes.