Top Cowboys vs. Great Horses In Big Money Event

© Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Zeke Thurston

By: Ted Harbin

Cowboys crave good horses and the opportunities to cash in when the rides go well.
Now the top saddle bronc riders in North America will converge on this tiny hamlet for the Hard Grass Bronc Match, set for 6 PM on Saturday, July 29.
"We figured it would be fitting to have an event out here where we're in the heart of cattle country," said Tyler Kraft, an event organizer who serves as manager of the Calgary Stampede Ranch near Hanna, Alberta. "We went to different bronc ridings in North Dakota and South Dakota and really thought this would be good for this part of Alberta.

In our area, we have around 1,500 bucking horses. Why would we be driving 1,000 miles when we could put on one here?
 The event will feature 30 of the best bronc riders in the world, from world champions to regulars at both the National Finals Rodeo and the Canadian Finals Rodeo. With $25,000 included in the committee purse and mixed with entry fees, the winner should walk away from Pollockville with at least $10,000 stuffed in his jeans.
"I love bronc matches," said Zeke Thurston, a second-generation bronc rider and the reigning world champion from Big Valley, Alberta. "They're awesome, and when you can get one that counts for the world standings, then it's even better."
The Hard Grass Bronc Match will be co-approved by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. That means money earned in Pollockville will count toward qualifications for both the CFR and the NFR. That's an important piece of the puzzle for the bronc riders who make their living one bucking horse at a time.
"From a bronc rider's standpoint, anytime you can watch that many horses get bucked in a day is a pretty good day," said Thurston, whose father, Skeeter, was a multiple-time qualifier to both the NFR and CFR. "I like the way it pays out, and whatever you win goes in both standings. They have lots of bull riding events that count for the standings, so it's cool that you can have a lot of bronc ridings like that, too."

[instagram url="" hide_caption="0"]
The event will feature many of the top bucking broncs in the game today, horses that have performed at the Calgary Stampede and other large rodeos, including the two finales.
"Speaking on behalf of the Calgary Stampede Ranch, we're going to be bringing the heat," Kraft said. "We'll also have Big Stone Rodeo (of Cessford, Alberta) there helping bring some great horses."
Each of the 30 cowboys will ride in the first round, with the top eight scores advancing to the championship round. When the final-round field is set, the cowboys will then pick the horses out of a list of 12 available that they want to face for the chance to win the short go and the title. The cowboy with highest score will select first, and then the rest will choose according to how they placed.
"Bronc matches are pretty awesome," said Dustin Flundra, a three-time Canadian champion from Pincher Creek, Alberta, who owns three NFR qualifications and the 2014 Calgary Stampede bronze. "Now that they're starting to count for the standings makes them more attractive to the contestants.
We know bull ridings have worked on their own, but there are a lot of people that aren't necessarily bull riding fans but they like watching bucking horses. Now we're going to showcase those high-caliber horses, and the best cowboys in North America are going to come.
That combination will make it a spectacular event but so will the setting. Pollockville is home to about 10 people and is a little more than two hours east of Calgary.
"About the only thing in the whole town is a 500-capacity dance hall, and there's a big lean-to off it," Kraft said. "We figured it would be neat to do it in the open prairie."
Stands have been purchased, and organizers will utilize a Priefert arena setup. That will make it homey and fun for fans who want to watch something special happen inside the portable fencing.
"It's pretty exciting that we're going to have more and more of these things and that people can enjoy," Thurston said. "It's an exciting time, especially for the world of rodeo."
Bronc matches are nothing new to rodeo, but what sets the Hard Grass Bronc Match apart from most is that the money counts for both the premier rodeo associations in North America. The event in Sentinel Butte, ND, counts for the PRCA world standings.
"It's a lot like the Wildwood Bronc Busting that Roddy Hay puts on," Flundra said of the early June event in Wildwood, Alberta. "Like Roddy's event, the horses will be amazing. There will be a lot of horses that have been to both the NFR and the Canadian Finals, and a lot have been to one or the other.
"The cowboys will be of the same kind of caliber. That makes for some pretty good watching."

Like what you see? Sign up for our newsletter to stay current on all the latest rodeo news and your favorite content from FloRodeo.

Cayla Small Leads Denver With First Runs Back From Injury

Courtesy of Cayla Small Cayla Small Barrel Racer

Cayla Small was injured in the fall and told not to get on the back of a horse until January 20. But when she drew up at the Denver National Western Stock Show and Rodeo on January 11, the 2016 WPRA Rookie of the Year had to cut her recovery time down.

Canadian Finals Rodeo Goes To Red Deer For Ten Years

By Katy Lucas Canadian Finals Rodeo Announcement

“This is a great day for rodeo in Canada,” said Terry Cooke, president of the CPRA.

Scott Guenthner Wins Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals Title

Scott Guenthner Steer Wrestling

The 12 circuit finals offer competitors a chance to take advantage of their success from the rodeo season before and turn it in to some extra cash for next season’s world standings. That was on Scott Guenthner’s mind as he headed to Great Falls for the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals.

Daylon Swearingen Wins All-Around At First Frontier Circuit Finals

Courtesy of Daylon Swearingen Daylon Swearingen All Around Cowboy

A youngster from Piffard, New York, turned heads during his debut at the First Frontier Circuit Finals over the weekend in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Eighteen-year-old Daylon Swearingen rode out of the finals with titles in bull riding and the all-around, as well as a spot in his first RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) this spring.

Shane Proctor Chases All Around Title, Just Like Ty Murray Once Did

© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_9739706_168383134_lowres.jpg

Veteran rodeo fans will remember a time when the king of the cowboys rode bucking stock, a time when Ty Murray won seven all-around titles while competing in the bull riding, bareback riding, and saddle bronc riding.

A Year Later, Impact Of Ty Pozzobon's Passing Felt Deeply In Rodeo

Provided by Leanne Pozzobon Ty Pozzobon

One year ago yesterday, the rodeo world lost a very talented cowboy.

George Taylor Named CEO Of The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association

© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Clay Smith and Paul Eaves 2016 NFR

George Taylor will begin his position as chief executive officer of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) on January 22. The PRCA recently named the former executive with Caterpillar its CEO after Karl Stressman retired from his nine-year role as commissioner of the association.

Could the ELD Mandate Affect Rodeo Competitors?

© Daniel Clark-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_10474513_168383134_lowres.jpg

Rodeo competitors and others who travel with horses for competition have many unanswered questions for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service (HOS) and resulting electronic logging device (ELD) mandate that came into effect on December 18, 2017.

Jake Vold Starts Physiotherapy After 2017 WNFR Knee Injury

Jake Vold - Bareback Rider

Three-time Canadian bareback riding champion Jake Vold began physiotherapy thursday after injuring his knee at the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) in Las Vegas. 

2018 Standings: Who's In The Driver's Seat?

© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Sage Kimzey 2016 NFR

We may just be a few days in to 2018, but we’re already well in to the 2018 rodeo season with over 30 rodeo events in the books. Competitors are rising to the top of the standings early in the season.