LAS VEGAS – Benny Binion’s World Famous Bucking Horse & Bull Sale is a 29-year tradition in Las Vegas with a grand history.
Organized by stock contractors from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the sale is recognized as one of the very best in the United States every year. Now organizers are making moves to improve upon an already powerful product.
“To be realistic, we were a good bucking horse and bull sale, but we weren’t where we wanted to be,” said Hal Burns, a PRCA director and member of the association’s stock contractor executive council. “We wanted to turn it into an elite sale. We wanted to see if we could sell the top stock in the country.”
Primarily, the sale has been divided over two days – Thursday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 6, at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa – and will include more categories. That includes a special sale set for 9 a.m. Thursday that will feature 2- and 3-year-old colts and yearling and 2-year-old bulls.
“Everybody wants to play the futurity game,” David Moorehead said, referring to competitions involving younger bucking animals; the youngest animals will be bucked with a mechanical dummy attached to their backs instead of riders.
Moorehead, an Iowa-based livestock contractor, is involved in the organizing side of the sale. He understands the value of the bucking horses and bulls as much as any other in the rodeo game.
In addition to the colts/calves sale, Thursday will include the 2014 PRCA Permit Holders of the Year Challenge, which will feature the top five permit-holders from the 2014 season in all six events. For the roughstock cowboys, there will be 10 broncs, 10 bareback horses and 10 bulls, all of which will be sold after the Permit Challenge concludes.
Friday will feature Stace Smith’s World Futurity Bronc Riding, and some of the top 4- and 5-year-old broncs in the country will be part of the finale. They will be sold during Saturday’s sale, as will a few select animals from Texas-based Herrington Cattle Co.
“For the first time in sale history, Robby and Chad Herrington will be selling five NFR-caliber bulls and five younger bulls that will be bucked with the dummy,” said Nate Morrison, owner of The Breeders Connection and the sale’s producer.
The final piece of the sale will be 30 broncs, 30 bulls and 10 bareback horses that are of the highest quality; the sale also will include 16 pickup horses.
“Saturday is going to be the elite broncs, bulls and bareback horses in rodeo, the stuff you’ll hopefully see at the (Wrangler) National Finals Rodeo the next year,” Morrison said. “We’re going to have more added money for the cowboys on Saturday that will count toward their winter qualifications and their 2015 standings.
“We’re hoping that’s going to kick up the quality of contestants to make that a great roughstock performance.”
That seems to be a common theme for the 2014 Benny Binion’s World Famous Bucking Horse & Bull Sale.
“That first morning we’re going to use young horses and young bulls to increase the excitement,” said John Barnes, also a PRCA director and a member of the executive council. “With the permit challenge, we’re going to use the proven, seasoned horses and bulls, then sell them.”
That means there will be tremendous variety for potential buyers and those who want to view the events.
“Another thing we’re doing is that we will have the same ticket price all day long,” Barnes said. “People can come and spend all day, or they can leave and come back. We want to make it fan-friendly also, so we’re changing that, not just the livestock quality.”
Animals will be screened and selected to be part of the sale. It will make for an action-packed event at the South Point Arena and Equestrian Center.
“We have to best utilize the availability of the facility,” Moorehead said. “We only have so much time, so we needed to come up with the best way to do it.
“This is good for the contractors; it’s good for the business. It helps the public gain awareness as to where these animals come from and to see they’re bred and nurtured specifically for rodeos.”
The focus, then, is quality over quantity, which will be of great service to everyone involved. Contractors wishing to have their animals in the sale need to submit two videos of each animal to Morrison.
“We will have our superstars on Saturday, so we will see a gradual step up,” Barnes said. “We can’t worry about the market of the animals, but we worry about the quality of it. That’s why we’re giving the buyers more options.”
The Permit Challenge is a way to provide an outlet for a select few of the up-and-coming cowboys in the game who will have proven themselves in the PRCA tryout phase of their permit season – rodeo contestants must win enough money while competing on their permit in order to compete as official PRCA membersx. The top five in each event earn the right to compete in Las Vegas on Dec. 4.
“In today’s world, it’s essential to get out and try to entice these young kids to compete in rodeo,” Burns said. “Without them, we can’t continue to function.
“We wanted to have someplace for these kids to showcase their talent. I believe we’ve got to establish our farm-club system in our sport, and that’s what our permit system is.”
The Permit Challenge invitees will have a chance to compete for their share of the $21,000 purse.
“We are pleased to host an event for our up-and-coming rodeo stars,” PRCA commissioner Karl Stressman told ProRodeo Sports News in its May 9, 2014, edition. “This is an opportunity for them to showcase their talents and give them a taste of what it’s like to compete on the big stage in Las Vegas.”
But there’s much more to the sale than most know. Money raised is then donated by the stock contractors to various entities, including the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, scholarships and other charities.
“First and foremost, it’s a sale,” Moorehead said. “Secondly it’s one of our ways to create interest and membership, and third it’s a fundraiser for stock contractors so we can give to charities.”
That is why the Benny Binion’s World Famous Bucking Horse & Bull Sale continues to be a Vegas landmark.