MANDAN, N.D. – Bareback rider Ty Breuer kicked off his 2019 ProRodeo season in a big way, winning the championship at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in early February.
Two weeks later, he won the rodeo in Tucson, Arizona, and he was officially on a roll. Between those two rodeos alone, he had earned $16,436 to put himself near the top of the world standings with seven months remaining in the regular season. He continued to build on that, and it all proved quite vital.
In March, he collected $23,000 at RodeoHouston, which was in its first year of being tied to the world standings in several years.
“I had the best winter I’ve ever had,” said Breuer, 29, of Mandan, North Dakota. “All of the sudden, I came home, spent time calving and went back and started the summer run in June.”
But it didn’t last long, as some sort of virus entered his body. He felt weak, light-headed and wasn’t sure what was going on. Trips to the doctor revealed no answers. It lasted for weeks, and it kept him absent from the sport he loves and his primary business.
“It pretty much took me out for the whole summer, and we never did figure out what was wrong,” he said. “I couldn’t even work at home. I was just resting. It was a good thing I had a pretty good nest-egg built up.”
Each dollar he earned through the season came in handy for many reasons. In all, he finished the regular season with $88,699 that counts toward the world standings. He fell to 12th on the money list, but he has a chance to improve on it all when he competes at the National Finals Rodeo for the fifth time in his 10-year career.
“It’s an honor to be going back to the finals,” said Breuer, who shares his home with his wife, Kelli, and their two children, 2-year-old Kayd and 5-month-old Treyt. “A guy can’t take anything for granted in this sport, and you have to realize it’s something special to still be going.”
He knows all about what that means. Two years ago, his younger brother, Casey, suffered an injury that ended his career. Last year, one of Ty Breuer’s traveling partners, J.R. Vezain, also suffered a career-ending injury after having had a strong enough season to qualify for the NFR.
So, having the opportunity to compete at a high level is something in which Breuer takes great pride. It’s a special occasion for any rodeo cowboy to compete at ProRodeo’s grand championship once; there’s something even more special for a man who has been there five times, including each of the past four seasons.
“It’s always tough to make the finals, because the horses get better and the riders get better,” he said. “Every year you have to improve, too. It’s crazy how fast it’s getting better … the sport, the money, everything.
“The money is a big thing. Now that I have a family, and that’s how I make money, you really have to push yourself to get all that you can.”
Money is important, not only for caring for a family but also for chasing titles. In rodeo, only the top 15 on the money list at the conclusion of the regular season advance to the NFR. When it ends, the contestants in each event with the most money won are crowned world champions.
As he heads into Las Vegas for the most stressful and most rewarding 10 nights of the year, he is $93,000 behind the standings leader, Clayton Biglow. But with a $10 million purse and go-round winners earning $26,231, Breuer can make up ground in just four rounds if everything goes well.
“You just can’t let the stress of Las Vegas get to you,” said Breuer, who credits a great deal of his success to his sponsors, D Day Trucking, Cattleman’s Club Steakhouse, Phoenix Performance Products, B. Tuff Jeans and Fettig Pro Rodeo. “There’s a lot going on, but there’s a lot of money up for us out there to get, and I get to spend time with my family.
“It’s hard to be away from them when I’m gone, and it seems like it gets harder every year. That’s one of the main perks of going to Vegas, that everybody gets to go with us. Kayd is old enough now that she’ll have fun down there. It’ll be great to be down there with family and see everybody again.”
That family includes his traveling partners, Steven Dent and Tanner Aus. They will join Breuer in Sin City, all competing for that coveted Montana Silversmiths gold buckle.
“It was a weird summer, because I think we just went to four rodeos where all three of us were together,” he said, noting he competed at just 27 rodeos this year and still qualified for the NFR. “But we still had each other’s backs. We know each other well, and we take care of one another.
“It’s pretty awesome that all three of us will be at the finals. It’s funny to think we didn’t go to that many rodeos together, and now we’ll be together all 10 nights. It’ll be fun with all our families. That’s huge support, and all three of us will support each other every night.”
Until then, he’ll continue to train. He admitted that his summertime illness pushed him backward a bit, but he’s been building his strength while training with Tanner Schweitzer of Recreational Athletic Wellness Strong in Bismarck, North Dakota.
“Working out with Tanner always helps, because you’ve got to be in shape in this sport,” Breuer said. “I was pretty out of shape the first couple of weeks, but we kept working on it. He mostly works on my core muscles and things you don’t use every day. You don’t really lift weights, but he has you sweating in the first three minutes.”
The work is paying off, and he is ready to take on 10 of the best bucking horses in the world.
“I’m really feeling confident,” he said. “You’ve got to have confidence when you go to the finals, because it’s going to be tough. You just have to know you’re one of the 15 best and that you earned your way there.”