2012 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo
For 116 years, the “Daddy of ’Em All” has been creating thrills, chills and champions in the cowboy city of Cheyenne, Wyo. This year was no different, with the championship round of rodeo containing enough story lines to satisfy any fan of the sport. Boasting multiple-time winners, local champs and even an unexpected “Latte,” there was enough action to make anyone’s head spin.
The bulls came out to play both first and last, with new stock contractor Stace Smith making sure the best of the best squared off against the likes of Shane Proctor, Kanin Asay and Cody Samora in two separate flights of man against beast. When the dust settled, just a trio of cowboys each put together successful rides on three bulls over the course of the rodeo, but it was Cody Whitney (born in nearby Laramie, Wyo.) who pulled out a victory on a black and white bucker named Seminole Wind.
“When you win the ‘Daddy (of ’Em All),’ it’s the greatest feeling ever,” described Whitney when he was presented with his champion saddle. “What makes it the Daddy is that you can come here and win a big check and you are set for the year. And even if you don’t, just the fact you get to come here and stand behind the bucking chutes and look (out) and see all those people out there … that is the greatest feeling.”
An even better feeling was winning Cheyenne Frontier Days twice, something bareback cowboy Will Lowe experienced after posting 91 points to best a loaded field that included Bobby Mote, Kaycee Feild, Steven Dent and defending champ Casey Colletti. Everyone came out firing and the packed crowd cheered the big scores exploding from the arena.
“This is always a tough rodeo,” said Will Lowe afterward. “When you have the 60 best or 90 best guys like we had this year and you bring in stock like this, you never know what is going to happen. I feel real blessed,” he added about coming in first. “The competition, especially in the bareback riding, is so tight. The top 35 guys, they can win any day of the week. I drew good and … you can’t put it into words,” he said with a grin about winning the massive rodeo once more. “It just blows out of you in a smile, I guess.”
If anyone knew how Lowe felt, it would be Cody DeMoss, who took home his third Cheyenne buckle in saddle bronc competition after a spectacular 90-point ride on Chugwater Blue electrified the crowd and put him ahead to stay. Asked about his ride in the finals, DeMoss offered praise for the bucking horse.
“Shoot yeah, that horse right there, I’ve seen him around a couple of times,” he began on the topic. “I saw him here last year and he was phenomenal. Man, I was so pumped to have him. That was definitely the pick of the litter, right there. I was blessed to be able to ride him and be able to capitalize on it and make it work.”
Another champion blessed to ride in Cheyenne was Texas barrel racer Mary Walker, who recovered from a crushed pelvis in 2011 to start competing again this past January. Walker revealed she’d been coming to Cheyenne for 29 years, except for last year because of her injury, and was overwhelmed with her victory at the world famous venue.
“Oh my gosh, it’s just amazing,” Walker said with a wide smile. “I knew when I got up this morning that my horse, if I could just get in there, then I would be okay. And it was, it was great. Until that second barrel tipped,” she added with a grin about the near fall of a barrel during the short go. “When it tipped, I went, ‘No way!’”
Asked about her horse, Latte, the Texas cowgirl became emotional.
“My husband bought him for me for a surprise after my son passed away,” Walker recalled with a quiver in her voice. “He was a God-send until he fell on me and crushed my pelvis. I watched my husband ride him every day and keep him exercised and in January of this year, I started back competing. Latte is an 8-year-old gelding whose registered name is Perculatin’, so that’s where Latte came from,” she continued as her expression turned to joy. “(My husband) wanted to change it and I said, you can’t change a horse’s name. So it has all worked out and Latte is the best.”
You can’t say the word “best” during a rodeo without mentioning Trevor Brazile, the holder of 16 PRCA world titles and numerous earnings records. Brazile and team roping partner Patrick Smith earned a Cheyenne buckle with consistent effort, clocking three rounds in 9.5, 9.6 and 9.5 seconds. Asked about earning another Cheyenne buckle after a 10 year wait, Brazile acknowledged the importance of the venue.
“We’ve just been on a roll in team roping and I’m glad that it didn’t stop before the ‘Daddy,’” Brazile stated. “This is the one you dream about winning all year. I love this place. It can be good to you and it can be bad to you, but that’s part of the tradition here. I love the tradition and it’s a cowboy contest.”
His partner Patrick Smith, brought the house down when he revealed an alternate reason for excitement about winning Cheyenne.
“Obviously, the money here, when you are traveling with three girls, that’s obviously the most important thing to me,” joked Smith while everyone had a big laugh.
Even soft spoken cowboys smile after winning Cheyenne, as evidenced by a happy Gabe Ledoux receiving his champion saddle for the steer wrestling competition.
“It means everything,” spoke Ledoux about earning first place at the prominent rodeo. “This is one rodeo that everybody, when they start rodeoing, they want to win Cheyenne. I just feel fortunate to finally get it done. After I went, I figured it went good but I didn’t think I would win,” he revealed of his thoughts after his 7.4-second time in the final round. “I guess it went my way.”
Paying out over $821,000 in total money for 2012, the 116th Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo made things go the right way for a heap of cowboys and cowgirls, along with providing priceless memories for hundreds of thousands of visitors at the world renowned western venue. Its history, tradition and importance are all part of why they call it the “Daddy of ’Em All.” ❖