Good broncs, good earnings and good times: The Tom Butler Memorial Bronc Ride
Miles DeWitt of Arizona won the Tom Butler Memorial Bronc Ride in 2006 and 2007, and placed in 2008 and 2009. — Photo courtesy of Sarah Bradshaw
An open ranch bronc ride competition that began in 2006 as a tribute to honor the memory of a young West Texas cowboy, Tom Butler of Guthrie, TX, has become an annual event with spectator attendance growing from 500 the first year to 1,700 within four years. The fifth annual Tom Butler Memorial Bronc Ride (TBMBR) shapes up again this Oct. 16, 2010, just off the caprock in Post, TX, 40 miles south of Lubbock, TX. A unique feature of this event is that it is strictly an open ranch bronc ride and is not associated or affiliated with a ranch rodeo. It is one of the few open bronc rides of this type found in the western U.S.
Another unique aspect of this ranch bronc ride is the scale of the earnings awarded the winning cowboys to take home at the end of the day. Payback is 100 percent and first place wins $3,000, second place wins $2,250, and third and fourth place winners earn $1,500 and $750, respectively. In addition to the cash, first place winner gets a handmade bronc saddle .The saddle has a hand-crafted silver concho that sets behind the cantle. This added piece of silverwork brings the value of the saddle up to $3,500. Pretty impressive earnings for a ranch bronc ride! Second, third and fourth place winners also get handmade spurs, bits, or buckles, donated by local gearmakers, in addition to their earnings. These cash payouts plus custommade gear go a long way towards paying the diesel bill en route to Post. Arizona cowboys, including two-timewinner Miles Dewitt, have made the trip the last four years. Other states in addition to Texas that have been represented in the TBMBR include New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado. Texas cowboys taking home first place the last two years were Colt Ellis and Tyler Rice.
The annual event was initially suggested by a friend of the Butler family who thought it fitting to organize a tribute to Tom, an avid horseman and bronc rider, who won the Open Ranch Bronc Riding at Working Ranch Cowboys Association Finals in Amarillo when he was 18 years old. Tragically, a vehicle accident took Tom’s life before he had reached the age of 20. TBMBR was not only conceived to honor Tom as a bronc rider, but it generates scholarship funds for any high school senior going into an agricultural-related profession. To date, $60,000 of scholarship money has been awarded to 85 students.
JK Rodeo Company of Pecos, TX, will provide the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association broncs for this year’s TBMBR as they have done for the last four years. The open bronc ride is limited to 30 riders and there is a rookie bronc ride limited to 15 riders. Broncs for the rookies are furnished by 3 Lazy S Rodeo Co. from Post. No night latches are allowed, however, contestants can hold the saddle horn. However, riders score higher if they don’t pull leather. The first and many of the other top four placings in past years have free-handed their broncs, coming out of the chute with their free hand in the air.
Since the advent of the TBMBR four years ago, more local cowboys are seen free-handing. Also on the agenda is the “wild and wooly” Shetland Bronc Ride for ages 12 and under. TBMBR accepts15 entries for this division, with the winner awarded a pair of handmade spurs and $150.
TBMBR bagan taking entries for the 2010 event starting the first part of September. The open and rookie events are 100 percent paybacks to the riders.
To sign up, contact Traci or Kelly Butler at 806/596-4632 or e-mail Traci at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the bronc ride and scholarship fund can be found at www.tombutlermemorial.com. The winner of the Open Ranch Bronc Ride gets an invitation to compete in the Arizona Cowpuncher’s Ranch Bronc Ride. TBMBR reciprocates and sponsors the winner of the Cowpuncher’s Bronc Ride to compete in Texas each year. TBMBR always delivers exciting ranch bronc riding and fellowship including on-site vendors on the day of the event and a chuckwagon breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings prepared by Terry Chandler, Outlaw Chef from Fort Worth, TX.
A lucrative calcutta begins at 11:00 a.m. and the bronc ride begins right afterwards. Concessions are available as well at the rodeo grounds. Dancing to the sounds of Jake Hooker and the Outsiders at the rodeo grounds winds up the day’s activities from 8:00 p.m. until midnight. Raising the bar for the quality of bucking horses, the challenge for the riders, and the earnings for the contests, the 2010 Bronc Ride at Post, TX, promises a great entertainment-filled Saturday this October with proceeds going to a good cause—The Tom Butler Memorial Bronc Riding Scholarship. — Ginger Elliott