Wyoming’s Miss Congeniality – the Life of a Bucking Horse
October 31, 2008
I was out in the pasture just lazily grazing on good green grass when I see cowboys on horseback coming my way and that means one thing – it’s time to head to ranch headquarters.
We get there and they start the sorting process. They loaded us on my truck, we headed south out of Riverton, got on 287 and caught I-80 at Rawlins. It was a straight shot east and when we were going over Sherman Hill and I saw that tree growing out of the rock again. It never ceases to amaze me how that little tree grew and continues to live.
We crossed the Wyoming border and I started seeing the big cornfields in Nebraska. They grow a lot of stuff in that state and when you are in a semi-trailer you can smell all of it – corn, alfalfa, sorghum and grass. It makes every road trip an adventure, trying to figure out what all the smells are. I have a secret for all of the animals out there though, there is nothing like Wyoming grass.
Once again, we were kept in some pens outside of town and I had to wait around for Saturday night. I watched some of my traveling partners go to the rodeo and every time they left I knew that they were saving the best for last. As a bucking horse, I love the format of the Ariat Playoffs. It’s so exciting to know what a difference you can make in a cowboy’s year.
Saturday afternoon comes around and I’m finally one of the lucky animals to get loaded on my truck. Touch of Silver and Big Chill were in the pen in back of the arena with me. Touch of Silver was his usual nervous self. He was blowing and snorting at everyone that got close. I kept telling him that he should calm down and save his energy, but he was having none of my advice. He was in the final four and he couldn’t wait to get out there and show his stuff.
They came and got me and sent me down the alley. I’m ready for this. The guy that got me was Jesse Kruse from Great Falls, MT. I’d never met Jesse before but found out that he had been traveling with fellow Montana bronc rider Josh Reynolds from Corvallis. Josh has ridden me twice and both times he was 91 points. Knowing how those cowboys trade notes about us horses I was sure that Josh was the first person that Jesse called.
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Jesse’s putting his saddle on me and I’m thinking that I’ve got the wrong guy. Even with his boots on, I don’t think he’s 5’6″ tall. I’m also not sure he has to shave on a regular basis. It’s pretty unusual for someone else to set a saddle, and I know he was the 2007 rookie of the year so he’s not very old, so I decide that it must be Jesse.
Age and experience did not hurt this guy one bit. I could tell was excited to make it to the semi-finals and get on me. He couldn’t stop grinning and let me tell you, he has a great smile. Whether he rides me or not, I’m pretty sure he’s going to have fun and keep smiling.
He took the rein, sat down on me, got his feet set and nodded his head. I took my trademark humongous leap out of there and Jesse held his feet and marked me out. I bucked again, put a little stutter step and swoop in and he was still there. I stayed close to the chutes, kept bucking and kicking and that little guy was with me every step.
After the ride, I was pretty full of myself when they led me out of the arena and I could tell that Jesse was happy too. Then I heard the score – 88 points. Well let me tell you I was disappointed. Those judges must not have seen what I felt. I was thinking about how it must be for Jesse. He’s little, and has a great center of balance. He rode different than Josh did because he doesn’t have as long of legs to get a hold with. But, he gave me enough rein that I could get my head down and really buck and he was outstanding. I don’t like to second guess the judges and I didn’t go look at their sheets, but based on other matchups I’ve had, I thought that Jesse should have been at least 91.
Jesse was in the lead with one more to go. That was Justin Arnold and he also got an 88 tying them for first in the semi-finals. While I was disappointed for Jesse that he didn’t win it outright, when they were put in position for the finals, Jesse would get to ride Touch of Silver. I’m thinking he’s going to win the whole shebang.
I was right about one thing. He should have won the whole shebang, because he rode Touch of Silver and that gray gelding is hard to ride. He’s got a lot of tricks and you never know for sure what he’s going to do. He’s not an honest bucker like me and he sends a lot of guys to the dirt. So I hear the whistle and I know that Jesse made it. I’m waiting in the back to hear the score and I hear the announcer say that he missed the horse out. Another disappointment and welcome to the wonderful world of rodeo. Here’s the cool thing though, that Jesse Kruse was still grinning. I’m going to predict that he will go far with his rodeo career.
We left Omaha and headed north for the Marvin Garrett Match of Champions. I love going to these events. This one was Friday and Saturday night in Valley City, ND. I was out on Saturday night and it was Jake Costello from Newell, SD, that rode me.
These events are so much fun, just a lot of bucking horses and great riders. Jake has never been to the National Finals Rodeo, but he rides well enough that he definitely could be there if he stayed on the road. I understand when someone has a family and doesn’t want to make that sacrifice.
Jake is down to business. He placed in the first round on Friday night and was ready for me. That arena at Valley City was a little small and that suited me just fine. I left like a rocket and Jake stayed with me. He was 89-points and I heard one of the radio guys say that if we were at a PRCA rodeo, we would have been at least 92.
That’s my goal every time, a 90-point plus ride, so I was pretty happy. And, Jake won the event and that made me happy as well. I’m home now anxiously waiting to see who gets the championship halter.
I know whoever gets it will be able to take a lot of pride in the award. And with fuel prices on the rise, their owners will be able to make good use out of the bonus money from U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company. I’m not going to lie, I sure would like to have another championship halter. If it doesn’t happen this year, I’ll be trying to get those cowboys a first-place check and hoping they’ll vote for me next year.
My name is Wyoming’s Miss Congeniality and I’m proud to be a bucking horse!