GUNNISON, Colo. – Kash Wilson saw the good, the bad and the ugly all in a matter of 10 seconds Thursday during opening night of the Cattlemen’s Day Rodeo.
Atop Three Hills Rodeo’s Big Show, Wilson made a quality ride, resulting in 86 points to take the bareback riding lead. But just a second after the buzzer sounded, the Gooding, Idaho, cowboy came off the big bay horse on the left side with his right hand still stuck in the rigging.
“I was getting off my rigging since I was getting behind him because of his power,” he said, explaining how his spurring rhythm with the horse’s bucking motion was compromised. “By the time the whistle went, he already had me on the left side.
“I could’ve safety’d up a little bit and prevented that, but I could have lost some points there at the end.”
Every point is vital, especially for cowboys who make their living on the backs of bucking horses. Each score is based on a 100-point scale, with half coming from the rider and half from the horse. In bareback riding, the spurring motion is from in front of the horse’s shoulders back to the rigging, then back to the front before the animal’s front feet hit the ground.
By being a little behind, Wilson was just trying to finish the ride as strong as he could.
“I’m here for the paycheck,” he said.
He should. He sits 39th in the world standings and has a lot of ground to make up if he wants to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale that takes only the top 15 contestants in each event at the conclusion of the regular season.
There are no guarantees in rodeo. Contestants must pay a fee in order to compete, and only the top few who finish with the best scores or times earn money. That’s why it’s important to perform well when the opportunities allow, which is what happened with Big Show.
“My traveling partner, Clayton Biglow, had that horse in the eight-man round in Houston earlier this year,” Wilson said of Big Show. “He said he was a good horse, an honest horse, but that he’s kind of a bucker.
“I knew he’d be good. I knew if I did my job and he had his day, it would end up good. It was a little scary on the get-off. You don’t always plan that, but everything panned out.”
That it did. Part of it has to do with the primary stock producer, Texas-based Stace Smith Pro Rodeo, which has won Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Stock Contractor of the Year 11 times.
“There is an outstanding pen of horses here, and everybody’s got an honest shot,” Wilson said. “When you enter one of Stace Smith’s rodeos, you’re pretty sure you’re going to have a good chance to place.”
That’s all he wants at this stage. He hopes to continue to ride good horses and perform at his best.
“I’ve been climbing up each week,” he said. “There’s a lot of ground to gain, but there are a lot of rodeos yet to make it happen.”
Bareback riding: 1. Kash Wilson, 86 points on Three Hills Rodeo’s Big Show; 2. Rio Lee, 80.5; 3. Tanner Phipps, 78.5; 4. Evan Miller, 78; 5. Jared Keylon, 74; 6. Brian Brown, 71.
Steer wrestling: 1. (tie) Jarret New and Tom Lewis, 4.2 seconds; 3. Marcus Theriot, 4.6; 4. Tristan Martin, 4.7; 5. Cody Doescher, 5.9; 6. Levi Rudd, 9.1.
Team roping: 1. Cole Wheeler/Coy Brittian, 5.8 seconds; 2. (tie) Tyler Schnaufer/Trevor Schnaufer, 5.9; 4. Shay Carroll/Nano Garza, 10.4; no other qualified rides.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Charlie Kogaines, 82.5 points on Three Hills Rodeo’s Final Feather; 2. Nat Stratton, 81.5; 3. Shade Etbauer, 79.5; 4. Alex Wright, 79; 5. (tie) Brody Cress and Brady Nicholes, 78
Tie-down roping: 1. Stuart Hoar, 9.6 seconds; 2. Joe Colletti, 10.7; 3. Ryan Canty, 24.9; no other qualified times.
Barrel racing: 1. Nicole Waggoner, 17.64 seconds; 2. Tammy Fischer, 17.73; 3. Dani Durham, 17.94; 4. Melanie Roman, 18.29; 5. Carol Ruggieri, 18.74; 6. Kelly Yates, 23.14; 7. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 23.48; 8. Toni Hardin, 27.96.
Bull riding: 1. Cole Melancon, on Smith, Harper & Morgan’s Bad Black, and Nate Perry, on United Rodeo’s Sports Page, 82 points; no other qualified rides.