KILLDEER, N.D. – Last December, Cole Elshere was searching for answers.
He was at the National Finals Rodeo for the fourth time in his career, and he was excited to be there. Once there – at the NFR’s one-time home at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas – things did not go his way. He rode just one of the 10 horses he got on, but he failed to collect a paycheck through the week and a half of ProRodeo’s super bowl.
He watched replays of his ride. He looked at every angle, deciphered every move he had made. He was embarrassed and frustrated, and doing so poorly on the sport’s biggest stage just made him miserable. Still, every day he showed up with his trademark smile, prayed and hoped things would change.
They didn’t, and it was the richest rodeo in the game. Ryder Wright, for example, earned just shy of $250,000 over those 10 nights in north Texas, so there was plenty of opportunity for Elshere, a 31-year-old bronc buster from the tiny hamlet of Faith, South Dakota.
He finally found the answer just two months ago, when doctors revealed a bulging disc in Elshere’s neck, which pinched a nerve and didn’t allow for the cowboy to grip his bronc rein, much less lift on it to give himself the bet chance to cash in.
“I had to get an injection in the bulged disc so it would take the pressure off my nerve so I would quit having pinched nerves,” he said. “It was making my hand so I couldn’t squeeze.”
Since the injection in July, he’s also been doing physical therapy to help loosen the muscles in his neck, which also had become a deterrent to his riding style. It’s paying off, and he proved it Thursday night by riding Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Mid Knight Train for 85 points to win the bronc riding title at the Badlands Iron Cowboy Rodeo at the Killdeer Rodeo Grounds.
“They were saying that horse was going to be really nice, but when he came out there, you could tell he was going to be a little bit more than just nice,” Elshere said. “He had a lot of fire to him, and he was bucking so hard and making me hustle just to make a bronc ride and stay on. Whenever you’re having to fight to make it work, you know the judge are going to mark a bunch of points.”
That ride was worth $2,019 and pushed the South Dakota cowboy up a spot in the Badlands Circuit standings. As one of 29 bronc riders in the competition, it made for a nice trip to North Dakota to get on a Texas bucking horse. In fact, the event’s producer, Alicia Fettig of Fettig Pro Rodeo, enlisted the assistance of Carr and Alberta-based Macza Pro Rodeo to help make for tremendous bucking power in Killdeer.
“She wants the best for the cowboys,” Elshere said of Fettig. “To make it an even pen with that many bronc riders per night, she brought in more contractors to make us all have a chance at winning.
“That’s what good contractors do.”
Badlands Iron Cowboy Rodeo
Sept. 2, 2021
Killdeer, North Dakota
Bareback riding: 1. Zachariah Phillips, 86 points on Fettig Pro Rodeo’s Ninety Proof, $1,823; 2. Tanner Aus, 83, $1,382; 3. Anthony Thomas, 80, $995; 4. Clay Jorgenson, 79, $663; 5. (tie) Andy Gingerich and Nate McFadden 74, $332 each.
Breakaway roping: 1. Joey Williams, 1.9 seconds, $2,024; 2. (tie) Taylor Engesser and Rickie Engeser, 2.0, $1,628 each; 4. (tie) Kasie Kautzman and Syerra C.Y. Christensen, 2.2, $1,100 each; 6. Kirby Eppert, Sarah Morissey, Tanegai Ziverberg, Jessica Maglike and Jennifer Belkham, 2.3, $264 each.
Steer wrestling: 1. Jason Reiss, 3.5 seconds, $1,472; 2. Caden Camp, 3.9, $1,218; 3. (tie) Landon Richard Silversten and Colten Herbert, 4.3, $838 each; 5. Kyle Callaway, 4.4, $457; 6. Bryn Roy, 4.6, $254.
Team roping: 1. Brady Tryan/Justin Viles, 5.0 seconds, $1,751; 2. Reece Weber/Matt Kasner, 6.1, $1,523; 3. Clint Gorrell/Cody Smith, 6.7, $1,294; 4. Jade Schmidt/Jade Nelson, 6.9, $1,066; 5. Tucker Dale/Jesse Fredrickson, 7.7, $838; 6. Nate Norner/Wyatt Maglike, 7.9, $609; 7. Peter John Bennett/Brandt Ross, $381; 8. (tie) Jared Odens/J.D. Gerard and Brent McInerney/Tanner McInerney, 8.9, $76 each.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Cole Elshere, 85 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Mid Knight Train, $2,019; 2. Taygen Schuelke, 82.5, $1,548; 3. (tie) Brody Wells and Jade Blackwell, 79.5, $942 each; 5. Lane Schuelke, 79, $471; 6. Dusty Hausauer, 76, $337; 7. (tie) Brand Jackson Morgan and Houston Garrett Brown, 75, $236.
Tie-down roping: 1. Chase Lako, 8.0 seconds, $1,533; 2. (tie) trey Young and Rance Marshall Johnson, 8.2, $1,137; 4. Thanne Lockhart, 8.7, $740; 5. Joe Schmidt, 9.8, $4,76; 6. Clint Kindred, 10.0, $264.
Barrel racing: 1. Kailee Webb, 17.43 seconds, $1,076; 2. Heather Crowley, 17.46, $922; 3. Kristen Zancanella, 17.52, $768; 4. Ashley Day, 17.57, $666; 5. (tie) Terri Kaye Kirkland and Lakken Bice, 17.58, $461 each; 7. (tie) Lexi Bagnell and Allison Pauley, 17.68, $265 each; 9. Erin Williams, 17.77, $154; 10. (tie) Lindsay Kruse and Jenna Humble, 17.81, $51 each.
Bull riding: 1. Dylan Rice, 86 points on Fettig Pro Rodeo’s Air Tight Alibi, $1,974; 2. Levi Walter Schoenbaum, 85, $1,513; 3. Casey Fredricks, 82.5, $1,119; 4. Dalton Wright, $724; 5. Boudreaux Campbell, 81.5, $461; 6. Corey Maier, 81, $329; 7. Jeff Bertus, 79, $263; 8. Riggin Shippy, 75, $197.