Wyoming’s Miss Congeniality – the life of a bucking horse
I’m not going to lie. After the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo(NFR) I wasn’t feeling so congenial.
I was so excited to get there and with the top 15 bronc riders there, I knew it didn’t matter who got on me, I would get a good cowboy. So I waited in my pen and waited in my pen and honestly I was wishing I was back in the pasture in Wyoming.
I’d been there about 10 days and finally they sorted me out. Everything is different in Las Vegas. All the horses are fed and hauled by the same people. We don’t see our regular caretakers until we get to the arena. It’s not bad, but I was missing seeing Hank because he always lets me know what to expect. When I finally get to the arena, there are a bunch of buckers in my pen.
I’m in there with Cool Alley, Big Jet, Painted Valley and Kool Toddy. It’s our first appearance at Thomas and Mack and we’re all ready. I know the NFR is a great place for people to reconnect and visit with friends they only see once a year. It’s like that for us horses as well and I always look forward to seeing the other horses. Most of us are mares, so we have plenty to talk about!
Well, we were all discussing who would get on us. I’m hoping for Billy Etbauer and so are some of the others. Then, I think wouldn’t it be great to get Chet Johnson and we’d have a Wyoming cowboy on a Wyoming bucking horse. I tell the other horses that is what I want to happen and they start wondering what are the odds?
Once again it’s time for a math lesson, there are 15 cowboys there and even I can figure it out. We’re in Las Vegas for crying out loud. There are plenty of odds makers out there and I think anyone should know the odds of me getting Chet would be 1 in 15. And, that’s exactly what happens.
Hank is pretty happy and I’m excited. Chet is down to business but I could tell he’s nervous or excited. Maybe both but I’m not sure. I kept looking over the bucking chute and they would pull my head back around and finally, I feel him put his settle down on my back and slip his feet into the stirrups.
I have my first big leap out of the chute and Chet is right there. I had a little bobble on the next jump but got back in my rhythm. A lot can happen in that eight seconds and if you stub your toe, normally I’d send you to the ground. I’ll admit that I didn’t have my best trip, but it was pretty good. Chet missed a couple of spur licks, but he got me rode. Then, they announce the score, 85.5 points.
I have to tell you that I was disappointed. We tied for third place and missed getting a go-round buckle by 2.5 points. Shaun Stroh won the round on Kool Toddy with an 87.5. I was glad for Shaun because he has all those kids. If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll remember he rode me in Vernal, Utah for 92 points. That was my high-marked ride this year!
I found out later that the judges marked Cool Alley, Spring Blues and I all the same. We could have been 91 points, so once again, I did my job. And, we definitely could have won the round.
Chet was all smiles and I know he was just happy to get me ridden. He did win a check for $8,519 and we can all be happy about that. This is the fourth time that he’s been on me and the third time he’s ridden me.
So I went back to my pen and sulked a little. I don’t sulk very often so I gave myself an hour to get over it. By the time they brought our grain I was back to being myself and gossiping with the other horses. We all talk about who we think will win the world and discuss our trips with each other.
I had a few days off before the 10th round when they brought me back again. I’m wondering who I might get and I’m still hoping for Billy. That guy tries so hard and I’m still a little mad, and I’m saving my energy for the arena. We get there and it’s that Canadian guy that is so consistent, Rod Hay that has his name beside mine. I bucked him off here in 2005, so I’m thinking this time he’ll probably ride me.
As usual, I was right. Roddy rode me and lo and behold, we were 89 points, just one point off of my 90-point goal. Well good news, we won the round. I’m pretty happy about that. Then I find out because it’s the final round, they interview the average winners on tv. They don’t have a buckle ceremony at the South Point and while I’m glad that we were at the top of the leader board, I got my mad on again.
Why don’t they have a buckle presentation on Saturday night? I’m so disappointed that it took all the fun out of winning. I wanted the Franzens to get on stage and talk about me. I’ve spent a lot of time this past year telling my stories and I want them to be able to share it with the fans at the South Point. They don’t have a world champion’s banquet. The rodeo is live so it starts an hour early. I think they still need to have awards for the 10th round.
I’ve gotten some of those go-round buckles before and it’s cool for the guys that ride me and for my people to get on stage and be recognized. Everyone who makes a living in this business works really hard. A little air time doesn’t hurt anyone.
They did talk about me on tv and mentioned that I have my own my space page. I know because I got a bunch of new MySpace friends. That’s cool. We’re going to keep working hard at being the best that we can be and telling our stories so hopefully I’ll have more friends and we’ll get more rodeo fans!
We’re back in Wyoming now and I’m enjoying some pasture time. There’s nothing like the NFR and there’s no place like Wyoming. It’s good to be home!
My name is Wyoming’s Miss Congeniality and I’m proud to be a bucking horse!
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Jill Rigler is not your average 17 year old.