DUNCAN, Okla. – When he arrived at the Stephens County Arena, bareback rider Garrett Shadboldt knew he was in a race for a regional championship.
He trailed standings leader Blaine Kaufman by $352 heading into this weekend’s Chisholm Trail RAM Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. That changed in the opening night of the two-round regional championship, when Shadboldt matched moves with New Frontier Rodeo’s Brown Eyed Girl for 83 points to win the first performance and $1,872.
That, combined with Kaufman’s third-place finish, pushed Shadboldt into the lead for the year-end championship by $584.
“I haven’t been on that horse before, and I didn’t know much about her at all,” said Shadboldt, a three-time circuit finals qualifier from Merriman, Nebraska. “I was trying to be fairly conservative off the get-go, and I’m glad I was.
“The first two jumps, she felt really good, then she stuck her nose out and did a flat whirl. I’m glad I didn’t get too exposed when she did that. I was able to track her around the corner and finish her strong from it.”
When a bucking horse spins, it can oftentimes eliminate the kick that actually helps cowboys get the heels of their boots back to the front of the horse. In bareback riding, cowboys are judged by how well they spur the horse from the neck back to their rigging, all while doing so in rhythm with the animal’s bucking motion.
“I’ve been to the circuit finals three times now, and I never got the win and have never been to the RAM National Circuit Finals,” he said. “That’s a big goal of mine, especially since the money counts toward the world standings. That could make a big difference heading into this next year.
“I don’t know how things are going to play out or what kind of rodeos we’re going to have, but the national circuit finals seems to always happen, and there seems to be a lot of money there. I’m looking to get there and get that big boost for my world standings in 2021.
His Friday earnings boosted Shadboldt’s 2020 circuit salary to $7,750. It will come down to Saturday’s final round to decide who will claim the coveted titles and earn the bids to the RNCFR – only the year-end and finals-aggregate champs from each circuit earn the right to compete in Kissimmee, Florida, next spring.
In bareback riding, though, it will likely be the average champion that wins the year-end title, too, but it’s going to take every dollar possible to decide that. In rodeo, dollars equal championship points, so the contestants with the most money at the conclusion of the season win the year-end titles.
“I just really want to get to the national circuit finals,” he said. “Either way, they’ll both get you there. I think the year-end means a little more, but where none of us went to a lot of rodeos and the money’s tight, I think it will come down to the same thing.”
Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Garrett Shadboldt, 83 points on New Frontier Rodeo’s Brown Eyed Girl, $1,872; 2. Mike Fred, 81, $1,404; 3. Blaine Kaufman, 80, $936; 4. Mark Kreder, 78, $468.
Steer wrestling: 1. Jacob Edler, 4.0 seconds, $1,685; 2. Blake Mindemann, 4.3, $1,264; 3. Tanner Brunner, 4.4, $843; 4. Cody Devers, 5.1, $421.
Team roping: 1. Jake Clay/Brye Crites, 4.7 seconds, $1,685; 2. Wyatt Muggli/Casey McCleskey, 5.0, $1,264; 3. Bubba Buckaloo/Joseph Harrison, 5.3, $843; 4. Curry Kirchner/Austin Rogers, 5.4, $421.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Shade Etbauer, 86.5 points on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Sue City Sue, $1,966; 2. Hardy Braden, 84, $1,475; 3. Jake Finlay, 83.5, $983; 4. Tyrel Larsen, 83, $492.
Tie-down roping: 1. Hunter Herrin, 8.1 seconds, $1,685; 2. (tie) Blake Deckard and Tyler Milligan, 8.6 seconds, $1,053; 4. Quay Howard, 8.7, $421.
Barrel racing: 1. Emily Miller, 15.50 seconds, $2,041; 2. Michelle Darling, 15.80, $1,531; 3. Erin Zoucha, 15.92, $1,021; 4. Shannon Lillard, 16.00, $510.
Bull riding: 1. Colton Bynam, 85 points on Rafter H Rodeo’s Bet on Black, $2,130; 2. Trevor Kastner, 84, $1,648; 3. E.J. Bechthold, 78, $1,147; no other qualified rides.