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Everything is weird this year in rodeo. Events are cancelled, those that are still scheduled look far different and in the case of the prestigious Bob Feist Invitational, it wasn’t even in the same state.

But what was the same at this year’s Feist was the big-time money. While Ellensburg’s Minor brothers didn’t win it all — that went to Kal Fuller and Reagan Ward — the local ropers did pocket $9,000 for their time.

The Feist didn’t start as hoped as the brothers suffered leg penalties early.

“We had two legs in the first two rounds and I kind of figured we were out of the average, so we started being aggressive,” Riley said Tuesday morning.

With go-rounds paying $8,000 per team, there was plenty of money to be made outside of the $150,000 average prize ($75,000 per man).

But a funny thing happened on their way to go-round money: They became a factor in the average. The Minors placed fourth in the third round for $1,000 per man. They were out of the money, but consistent in the fourth round. They moved back into the pay window in the fifth round with a third-place 5.83-second run for another $2,000 per roper.

“Even though we’ve got 10 seconds worth of penalties, we were still 10th high call out of 140 teams,” Riley remembered going into the short round.

Problems in the finale derailed chances at go-round money and moved them down a bit in the average, but their 54.07 on six runs was good for 11th and another $6,000 for each of them.

And 30 hours of driving later, the brothers are home to get some R & R before a modified 4th of July run. Wait, 30 hours? Yessir. With all the changes that rodeo has been through and with the cancellation of the Reno Rodeo (that should be this week), the BFI was moved to centrally located Guthrie, Okla. The event also allowed for more contestants, which increased the purse. The arena was as big as the purse.

“That arena’s 400 feet long,” Riley said, adding that it had a 20-foot score. “It was huge, the biggest arena I’ve ever roped in.”

Was there money left on the table? Sure. Leg penalties will make you consider the “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve” scenarios.

“It’s one of my favorite ropings all year,” Riley said. “I’ve made the short round several times, won second once, just haven’t gotten over the hump.”

Even with the long drive, the $5,000 entry fee per team and the 13-hour day, “it was worth the trip for sure,” he said.

Despite countless rodeos on the chopping block due to COVID-19, cowboys and cowgirls will still have a chance at decent money this Cowboy Christmas as the Minor brothers’ 4th of July Run includes eight stops over the course of six days and six states. They’ll bring their horses to Prescott, Ariz., on the 30th, and head to Cody, Wyo., for the perf on July 1. They’ll head due east to Mandan, North Dakota and again to Killdeer, South Dakota on the 2nd before roping in Belle Fourche, South Dakota on the 3rd. Of course, don’t forget Roundup, Montana, that same day. They’ll be in Oakley City, Utah on our nation’s birthday before wrapping up the run in Big Fork, Mont., on the 5th.

It’s been a frustrating season — or lack of one, that is — for all of the full-time cowboys and cowgirls, but Riley said he’s been enjoying the time at home.

“It’s cool to be home, but if the PRCA will still have a Finals, I need to be at these rodeos,” he said, adding that the Minors are out of the top 50. “These rodeos are going to pay decent. This whole year is frustrating. I don’t know what to think. I’m going to go and be optimistic, but nobody knows. It’s just a strange year for everybody.”

Jon Guddat covers rodeo — from the kids to the kids at heart — with a weekly rodeo column in the Daily Record. Contact Jon with story ideas at


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