MANDAN, N.D. – The lead has changed to Ty Breuer’s story.
The top story on Breuer’s 2017 season was his third qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. That changed on Nov. 9, when Kayd Lee Breuer was born to Breuer and his wife, Kelli.
“It was sure life-changing,” Breuer said. “Right when she came out, it was definitely tears of joy for me.”
That’s exactly the way it’s supposed to feel for first-time parents. Though Kayd was about a month early, she was 6 pounds, 6 ounces. When Kelli Breuer went in for a regular appointment on Nov. 8, doctors opted to induce labor.
The Breuers got their princess home, but a bout with jaundice forced Kayd back to the hospital until everything was lined out.
“We weren’t really prepared for it all,” Ty said of the birth. “Kelli’s baby shower was two days after she had the baby. Kelli had the room mostly done, but we didn’t have the car seat in the car yet and didn’t have a bag packed.”
They’ve got it all figured out now and just in time as the family prepares for a venture to the City of Lights. That’s the home of ProRodeo’s grand championship, a 10-day festival featuring only the 15 best in each event from the regular-season standings. It features an $8 million purse, where go-round winners will earn more than $26,000 a night.
Breuer has been there before, first in 2013, then again a year ago. So far this season, he has pocketed $89,106 and sits 14th in the world standings. But the NFR is the world’s richest rodeo, and he has a great chance to earn some big-time cash.
“I think this was one of my harder years of rodeoing,” said Breuer, 27, a seven-year pro from Mandan. “I think one of the keys to making it a third time was that I was drawing good. There was a while when I couldn’t draw anything, but I was still riding good.”
In bareback riding, half the score is based on the cowboy and how well he spurs from the front of the shoulders to the rigging in rhythm with the animal. The other half is based on the horse and how well it bucks. That’s why taking advantage of good horses is a necessity for Breuer, who had at least a share of the victory at 10 rodeos.
He traveled a good part of the season with his usual partners, his brother, Casey, and their good friend, Tanner Aus. At the end of the season, he leaned on the assistance of a veteran to help his cause toward returning to Vegas.
“Jumping in with Seven Dent at the end of the season helped me make the finals,” Breuer said of the Nebraska man, an eight-time NFR qualifier who finished the regular season 12th in the world standings. “He knows how to rodeo at the end of the year. Neither of us really rodeo until the end of June, so we have a lot more rodeos to go to at the end of the year.”
Both men are ranchers, and there are a lot of duties at home to which they tend. That means they spend only half a year focusing on their rodeo careers.
“Without any of those guys, rodeoing wouldn’t be any fun,” said Breuer, who credits his ability to make it up and down the rodeo trail to his sponsors: D Day Trucking, Fort Pierre, S.D.; Long X Trading Co., Pendleton, Ore; Cattleman’s Club Steakhouse in Pierre, S.D.; Rio Nutrition; Phoenix Performance Products; and B. Tuff Jeans. “That’s probably the best part, getting to know people and getting to hang out with your best friends every day.”
But the year wasn’t without its hang-ups. While competing in Circle, MT., in mid-August, Casey Breuer was smashed in the back of the chute by his horse and suffered three fractured vertebrae. Ty and Aus were within feet of the wreck when it happened.
“It was hard on both Tanner and me for a month and a half after that,” Ty said. “It was weird, because Casey was always there for us. He was just coming around and riding really good, but Casey said it best, ‘That’s just the way it is.’
“When we nod our head, we know something bad can happen.”
As rodeo goes, it was also an adjustment since Casey Breuer handled much of the business of the job. He made sure of schedules for all three cowboys in the rig. Once he was out of commission, the job fell on his brother and Aus.
“I remember just before we left and before he was getting flown away, he told us what to remember to enter,” Breuer said. “Tanner and I are both very happy that he’s walking around now.
“What happened to Casey could have happened to anybody. It’s not fair that it happened, but it made me start thinking that you don’t know when your last horse will be, so be sure you try your hardest on every one.”
The philosophy has been beneficial to Breuer. After the regular season came to a close, he took another step by winning the year-end and average titles at the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo in Minot, N.D., just a two-hour drive from his house.
“That was a big confidence booster,” he said. “I ended up drawing really good there, and I rode good. It was a nice way to end the season, too, because I’d been rodeoing so hard. I got to go to the circuit finals and ride good horses and be next to home.
“I feel good about my riding. Toward the end of the season, it felt like I was trying to win first every time I was nodding my head. It was almost like a different mindset. You knew you had to make it work.”
That’s the same mindset he’s taking to Las Vegas. He’s doing everything possible to make this NFR his best one yet.
“One thing that really changed this year is that I’ve got a trainer now,” Breuer said. “I’ve always thought about the gold buckle, but I was never pushing toward it. This guy (Tanner Schweitzer of Recreational Athletic Wellness Strong in Bismarck, N.D.) has been putting it in my head that I have the talent to where it could happen.
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked at bareback riding as much as I have these last couple of months that I’ve been training for it. It makes you think about it a lot more.”
With his mind on his business and more than $26,000 up for grabs per night, he has plenty of reasons to think about that world championship. It’s like a fast-track to the gold buckle he craves.