ESTES PARK, Colo. – Rodeo isn’t just a sport or a business to Hardy Braden of Welch, Okla.
It’s a way of life, a part of who he is; it’s just like the blood the courses through his veins. It all came together Saturday for 84 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Hell’s Fire Hostage to take the saddle bronc riding lead during the fourth performance of the Rooftop Rodeo.
“That’s one of the best horses,” said Braden, who has qualified for the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo on numerous occasions. “I’ve seen him quite a few times, but I’ve never had a chance to get on him. I was super excited to see I had him drawn here. I was really nervous because I didn’t want to mess him up.”
The Oklahoma cowboy will now wait out the final two performances of the six-day rodeo to see if his score holds up for the title and the lion’s share of the purse. He owns a two-point lead over the No. 2 bronc rider in the race for the Estes Park title, Utahan CoBurn Bradshaw.
“I try to make it a regular stop,” Braden said. “It’s on the way normally. We just came from Vernal (Utah). This is a beautiful place, so I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to just come hang out.”
The rodeo trail can get long and dusty at times, so taking even a day off can be refreshing. Doing so in the mountain region of Estes Park helps. Braden has known this lifestyle since the day he was born. His father, Butch, serves as a pickup man; mom, Tammy, is a PRCA timer who has worked the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“I remember growing up and following my dad,” Hardy said. “He rode saddle broncs forever, and I was a teeny tiny tike and I’d get to sit in his saddles before he’d get on. It’s just something I always wanted to do. It’s bred into me.
“It’s a lifestyle that not everybody gets to live. People who sit in the stands don’t realize what they’re missing.”
Braden pointed to the fans in Estes Park, pointing out that a large number of tourists fill the stands every night. It makes life on the rodeo trail more exciting for the contestants when they can compete in front of an uproarious crowd.
“They get into it,” he said. “When they get it to it, it makes us get pumped up and want to even excite them more.”
It all adds up to a top-flight experience for everyone who makes a stop at Rooftop Rodeo.
“It’s the perfect grounds,” Braden said. “It’s beautiful weather for the first of July. It’s a great rodeo.”
And Braden is one of the leaders through four nights.
Estes Park, Colo.
July 6-11, 2016
Leaders through fourth performance
Bareback riding: 1. Brian Bain, 84.5 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Sugar Daddy; 2. Joel Schlegel, 83.5; 3. (tie) Richmond Champion and Shane O’Connell, 83; 5. Blaine Kauffman, 82; 4. Bill Tutor, 80.5; 6. Kody Lamb, 80; 7. (tie) Caleb Bennett, Orin Larsen, Tim O’Connell and Grant Denny, 79 each.
Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Wade Sumpter, 3.8 seconds, $1,597; 2. K.C. Jones, 4.4, $1,321; 3. Cody Cabral, 4.6, $1,046; 4. (tie) Dakota Eldridge, Billy Bugenig and Josh Peek, 4.87, $514. Second round leaders: 1. Cole Fulton, 4.0 seconds; 2. (tie) Jarret New and Brian Snell, 4.1; 4. (tie) Josh Peek and John Franzen, 4.2; 6. (tie) Dirk Tavenner and Dakota Eldridge, 4.3. Average leaders: 1. Josh Peek, 9.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Dakota Eldridge, 9.1; 3. Jarret New, 10.3; 4. Cole Dorenkamp, 10.5; 5. Jacob Shofner, 10.7; 6. Cody Pratt, 10.8.
Team roping: 1. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 4.4 seconds; 2. (tie) Cody Snow/Dugan Kelly and Colby Lovell/Travis Graves, 4.5; 4. Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, 4.8; 5. Aaron Macy/Bret Tonozzi, 5.1; 6. (tie) Kolton Schmidt/Shay Carroll and Billy Bob Brown/Garrett Jess, 5.3; 8. J.D. Yates/Trey Yates, 5.4.
Saddle bronc riding 1. Hardy Braden, 84 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Hell’s Fire Hostage; 2. CoBurn Bradshaw, 82; 3. Jesse Bail, 81; 4. Jacobs Crawley, 80.5; 5. Landon Mecham, 80; 6. Tyler Corrington, 79.5; 7. Rusty Wright, 79; 8. Taygen Schuelke, 78.5.
Tie-down roping: 1. (tie) Seth Hall and Ross Tucker, 8.6 seconds each; 3. Cory Solomon, 8.7; 4. Joseph Parsons, 8.8; 5. Josh Peek, 8.9; 6. Rhen Richard, 9.0; 7. Marshall Leonard, 9.1; 8. (tie) Cody Quaney and Clint Nyegaard, 9.3; 10. Brent Lewis, 9.4.
Barrel racing: 1. Katie Carroll, 17.51 seconds; 2. Sherry Cervi, 17.69; 3. Trula Churchill, 17.78; 4. McKinley Goodger, 17.85; 5. Brenda McMahan, 17.91; 6. Lorie Manning, 17.94; 7. (tie) Sabra O’Quinn and Stevi Hillman, 17.95; 9. Taylor Langdon, 17.99; 10. Kayla Jones, 18.00; 11. Tori Morris, 18.03; 12. (tie) Katelyn McLeod and Ari-Anna Flynn, 18.06; 14. (tie) Christine Laughlin and Jenna Waggoner, 18.07.
Bull riding: 1. Derek Kolbaba, 79 points on Cervi Rodeo’s Wolf Greeley Hat Works; 2. Dustin Muncy, 78; no other qualified rides.