Wyoming saddle bronc rider having a hey day at WNFR in Vegas

Amy G. Hadachek
for The Fence Post
Brody Cress competing at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas on Dec. 13, As of that performance, he was tied for first place in the average in saddle bronc riding and ranked fifth place in the world.
PRCA Photo by Greg Westfall |

It’s been the ride of his life for an elated young saddle bronc rider to step up and buck up to his first-time competing at the spectacular 10-day Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas Dec. 7-16, 2017. It’s a dream come true for 21-year old Brody Cress of Hillsdale, Wyo., to make it to Vegas.

The rodeo cowboy modestly, but excitedly relayed that after the first seven days, he was already tied for first place in the average in saddle bronc riding and ranked fifth place in the world.

“So far here in Vegas it’s been going good. I got on seven outstanding horses, and am tied for first place at the WNFR; in the average (as of Wednesday, Dec. 13) At this point, I’ve still got three horses left, but I’m trying to stay focused and keep doing what I’ve been doing for the past seven horses,” Cress said.

He said he’s been blessed to get out to Vegas and ride in front of the crowd and be successful. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the nights,” he told The Fence Post.

Cress admitted, the excitement of being at the WNFR is electric.

“It’s my first year It’s surreal, being able to take this in,” he said. You hear about it being amazing, but you don’t really get the full effect until you’re behind the chute and see the crowd. There are also so many other events you can take part in — everyday I’m doing autograph signings.”

Cress grew up in Hillsdale about 30 minutes east of Cheyenne, attended Cheyenne East High School, and said he’s been around horses ever since he can remember.

“I’ve been around horses even before I could walk,” he said. “My dad rode saddle bronc too, but once my brother Blaze and I were born — my dad stopped rodeoing. We roped before we were able to get on bucking horses.”

Cress’s mom also grew up around horses at a family ranch in Pagosa Springs, Colo., 35 miles north of the New Mexico border, nestled at 7,000 feet on the Western Slope of the Continental Divide.

Even before the bucking horses, Cress got plenty of training while learning mutton-busting (an event held at rodeos similar to bronc riding or bull riding, for children to ride in, or race.) It all led to the training, experiences and qualities Cress developed today.

“Blaze and I started riding bucking horses when we were freshmen, and had outstanding horses,” he said. “By the time we were juniors in high school you rodeoed.”


Cress competed in saddle bronc riding in high school, but once his brother and he turned 18, they didn’t waste any time, and immediately got their Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assocation permits.

When he’s not competing in the 96 other rodeos that he’s now got under his belt during just this year alone, Cress is looking forward to attending Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas (considered ‘Cowboy Capital of the World’) to earn a master’s degree in agricultural and consumer sciences.

His parents, meanwhile, still live in the same house where Cress grew up. His dad, Tommy Cress is a principal at Cheyenne East High School, and mom, Lannette, works at the Wyoming Supreme Court building in Cheyenne.

After having a solid upbringing, Cress appreciates more than ever being back in the saddle. “Saddle bronc is all I do now. I also roped, but once I went to college my mindset was, that I’d rather be great at one thing rather than average at two.”

Cress and other saddle bronc riders have their own personal saddle. “It goes everywhere with me. I have a back up saddle that’s pretty good too,” said the rodeo cowboy. “It’s good to keep two, in case one breaks, and they’ve worked outstanding for me.”

Interestingly, what’s going on in Cress’s mind when he’s about to bust out of the chute, is nothing specific.

“I try to keep my mind as blank as possible — everything happens in a split second, so I just try to stay as relaxed as possible and just trust my body to do what I’ve trained it to do.”

Regarding that training, it’s as much about being focused, as it is physical.

“When I’m getting ready and training, I try to imagine I’m on a bucking horse, so when I work out, I do a lot of movements that I would do on a bucking horse,” Cress said. “I sit in my saddle every day. In summer, it’s harder because we’re going up and down the road. In the off season, I get on bucking horses, and on practice horses and sit in my saddle and ride the spur board,” said the young, single cowboy, who turns 22 on Jan. 7. “Yep, I’m single now and focused on the rodeo. I love being there and being around all the others and competing that’s what makes rodeo fun.”


Getting to that fun part, has also meant getting energized through great support.

“I’ve had such an amazing support system,” he said. “The amount of people who’ve helped me; I don’t know how I’d ever repay them for getting me here. My parents have helped my brother and me. They gave us great opportunities growing up, and other family, friends and others who’ve dropped whatever they’re doing, and also the great coaches in wrestling and rodeo. There are so many people; I could probably write two pages with the amount of people who’ve helped.”

The road to sitting high on a horse and qualifying as a saddle bronc rider, takes determination, practice and the intestinal fortitude.

“With any event in rodeo, it takes a long time to figure it out,” Cress said. “You gotta take it slowly and do it correctly. I’ve had great teachers and got to take it slowly and correctly so that I don’t get hurt. Bucking horses now are big, and they buck.”

He described it, as almost an obsession. “It takes getting on a bronc every day and put everything you can into it to be successful and win.”

Cress likes to take it one horse at a time. “Not looking at the long run, just focusing on the horse I have each night is just my main concern.” ❖

— Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at: