2011 WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo results
Photo courtesy of Chad Hendrix
Rodney Wilson and Kye Finck.— Photo courtesy of Chad Hendrix
Amarillo, TX, was the place to be Nov. 10-13, 2011, when the town swelled with thousands of visitors taking in a number of events coinciding with the 16th Annual Working Ranch Cowboy’s Association (WRCA) World Championship Ranch Rodeo. For some folks, it was a three-way western package: The WRCA Finals, the 2012 American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Remuda Award presentation, and Western Bloodstock’s Headquarters Sale.
Over the long weekend, four WRCA Rodeo Finals performances were held at the Amarillo Convention Center and, under that same roof, many associated events, demonstrations, activities and competitions could be viewed. This center provided space for over 200 vendors and WRCA sponsor booths with an estimate of 30,000-plus in foot traffic at the center during those four days.
Not far from this action, AQHA, located in Amarillo, made its annual presentation Saturday of the 2011 Bayer Best of Remuda Award at their Hall of Fame and Museum.
Visitors to this Panhandle city could complete the ‘ranch driven’ circle at Western Bloodstock’s first Headquarters Sale of ranch and western performance horses at Amarillo’s Tri-State Fairgrounds’ Cal Farley Coliseum located a 15-minute trot away from the convention center.
WRCA, an organization dedicated to preserving the heritage and lifestyle of the working ranch cowboy, uses ranch rodeo to bring attention to their cause and to generate money for their foundation. Through their Cowboy Crisis Fund, the WRCA Foundation (WRCF) provides financial support and needed assistance to working cowboys and their families. The foundation also provides scholarships for college students.
WRCA sanctions ranch rodeos across the country and the winners qualify for the World Championship Ranch Rodeo held annually in November. Twenty-three teams representing seven states participated at this year’s four-day event.
Seats for Friday and Saturday nights’ rodeos were sold out by mid-October and Thursday night’s event plus Sunday’s matinee had the largest attendance to date. About 5,000 rodeo fans took in the performances each night. Throughout the day, a Cowboy Trade and Trappings
Show, Ranch Expo, Cowboy Poetry and music sessions, Ranch Horse competitions, an art show and educational exhibits were available for the public to attend.
By the time the last wild cow was milked on Sunday afternoon, Wilson Cattle/T4 Cattle of Hereford and Canyon, TX, took first place honors as the 2011 World Champion Ranch Team. Reserve Champion Ranch Team was Monroe Timberlake Ranch/ Rainbow Ranch of Hereford, TX, and Deming, NM. Third place went to Scribner Ranch/C5T Ranch of El Dorado and Benton, KS. Swenson Land and Cattle of Stamford, TX, finished out the placings in fourth. Saddles, buckles and tack boxes full of handmade gear and other prizes went to members of winning teams at the end of the day.
Oklahoma cowboy Clayton Zibell of the Perkins Ranch/Chambers Ranch team was recognized as Top Hand and the Reserve Top Hand Award went to Jason Thomas of the Wilson Cattle/ T4 team. Top Horse and Top American Quarter Horse went to Lightning Blue Jazz ridden by Texan Rodney Wilson. Fellow Texan Hagen Lamb rode the Reserve Top Horse, PTS Bojangles.
Many ranch rodeos recognize a ‘Hard Luck Cowboy’ and this year’s recipient was Wes Bailey of the Arndt Ranch/Bailey Ranch team from Kansas. Bailey qualified for this category after breaking two ribs during the bronc ride. Despite his hard luck, he scored an 81 during that ride, then covered his bronc in the next go. Individual events are won by teams after points from the four nights’ performances are tabulated. These events include ranch bronc riding, stray gathering, team penning, wild cow milking and team branding.
WRCA also sponsored a Ranch Horse competition Friday. These cowboys took first in their divisions: Youth Senior - Zinn Lindsey, Aspermont, TX; Youth Junior - Casey McClesky, Clarendon, TX; Ranch Hand Class - Jake Lemons, Comanche, OK; Cowboy Class - Quincy Carlton, Happy, TX; Junior Ranch Horse - Tripp Townsend, Earth, TX; Senior Ranch Horse - Bill Smith, Spur, TX. The overall Ranch Horse competition winner was Tripp Townsend.
Many of the ranch horses competing in this year’s WRCA Rodeo Finals represented the breeding programs of past AQHA Best of Remuda Award Recipients. AQHA recognizes and promotes ranches with a history of breeding good horses and integrating them into daily ranch work. This year’s recipient, Tongue River Ranch of Dumont, TX, was established in 1898 by sons of S.M. Swenson who built the historic Swenson Ranch. Current owner Millard Morris purchased the ranch in 1997 and runs a cow/calf operation and pastures yearlings. Tongue River, which also has a ranch in northeastern New Mexico, keeps about 40 horses in their saddle horse remuda.
The reception honoring this Texas ranch was attended by many past recipients of this prestigious award which has recognized ranches’ remudas from eight states and Canada since the inception of this honor in 1992.
Many of these ranches have competed in the WRCA Rodeo Finals in the past.
Western Bloodstock from Weatherford, TX, held its inaugural Headquarters Sale on Thursday, Friday and Saturday selling 253 consignments of ranch, working cow, and cutting, roping and reining horses. Performance broodmares, stallions, yearlings, as well as 2- and 3-year-old prospects, were consigned and sold during the WRCA Rodeo Finals weekend. Western Bloodstock Director Jim Ware said they were very pleased with the success of their first sale of this type and it offered insight as to the best approach of future similar sales.
Ware also commented that they are especially excited about the sale of 40 2-year prospects that are eligible for Western Bloodstock’s 2012 $25,000 Added Headquarters Ranch Futurity.
Following the benevolent lead from WRCF, Western Bloodstock partnered with the Friends of the Denley Norman Family to raise $30,790. Norman, a cowboy who grew up in New Mexico, was tragically killed in a ranching accident this past year. He had participated in the WRCA Finals numerous times when he worked for the Nebraska’s Haythorn Ranch and had countless friends in town for the rodeo finals weekend.
Baxter Black’s Benson Christian Training Center was also the recipient of auction funds with a sale lot raising money for Black’s drug rehabilitation/auto mechanics shop program in his hometown of Benson, AZ. The program ministers to and helps ex-addicts gain confidence and learn a profession to move on with their future.
With the biggest calling card of the second weekend of November in Amarillo being the WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo, the city also showcased more ranch horse related events which eventually culminate in the finished equine product seen at work in the arena each night.
A long weekend of rodeo left folks enthused and ready for next year’s repeat performance, most especially the WRCA which has the responsibility of dispersing profits from the rodeos to those working ranch cowboys’ families in times of serious crisis and providing scholarships.
WRCA grew up in Amarillo and the city, boasting that they are a step into the Real West, was again pleased to host this fun, successful event. In addition to rodeo fans, it’s no surprise that, along with local merchants, the dry cleaners especially love the rodeo because cowboys want freshly cleaned and ironed shirts for their performances! — Ginger Elliott, WLJ Correspondent