I never know when to cheer and when to give an “aw shucks” during 4th of July’s Cowboy Christmas. One the one hand, winning $5,000 on most weeks is a decent week, but when there is more than $3.5 million to win during “Christmas” and an ample share of that is in your discipline, you start thinking those four-figure paydays need to give way to a week of checks that grow into five figures.

I read in a few places where 2013 world champion tie-down roper Shane Hanchey didn’t have a great 4th of July, whereas Columbia River Circuit barrel racer Amberleigh Moore dominated in Oregon, earning $15,500 by winning both St. Paul and Eugene, and placing third in Molalla. Moore of course is no stranger to success in big time situations, as the Oregon cowgirl has won $455,000 at the last three NFRs combined. She’s 15th in the WPRA world standings this week. For some the Fourth was feast — Moore — and others it was famine — Hanchey.

Let’s keep it with circuit competitors but allow me to drill it down to an even more local flavor. The biggest Kittitas County winner of the week is Ellensburg native Jake Pratt. The tall tie-down roper picked up the win at St. Paul. Pratt placed fifth in both rounds and won the average for a total payout of $8,358. He was up in Calgary as well, despite it being separate from the PRCA, you must go to Calgary if you qualify and it was well worth the trip. Pratt won the first performance in his pool of competitors and then placed in the second round for $11,500 in Canadian dollars, roughly exchanged for $8,800. No matter the total, Pratt flies back to Calgary later this week for Sunday’s Showdown Round and the chance at $100,000. That’s life-changing money.

First, he’s in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah for ProRodeo in the mountain states, hoping to build a little on the $44,000 (15th in the world this week) he’s earned thus far this year.

Pratt wasn’t the only cowboy to win money as the Minor brothers — Brady and Riley — found that splitting fourth place was going to get them checks in two different cities. They split fourth four ways in Molalla’s team roping, winning $1,630 for their time (ironically, they shared fourth with cousin Jake Minor, heeling with Garrett Rogers). The brothers also picked up fourth-place money in Cody, Wyo., for $5,374. The duo has a shade less than $70,000 won this year.

We had some locals leave Toppenish with a couple of checks as well. Jason Minor placed in the calf roping for $747 (as well as a check in Molalla for $1,231). Jack Fischer and Joey Bergevin teamed up to win $786 apiece in the team roping.

Toppenish just finished its second year back as a PRCA rodeo with stock contractor Summit Pro Rodeo leading the way. If you’re going to talk about Summit — where local contractor Daniel Beard is a partner — you also must consider that another Summit rodeo — Cle Elum Roundup — takes place at the end of this month.

Let’s move to amateur rodeo as the Jordan Tye/Jason Minor 1-2 punch is dominating Pro West Rodeo roping as well as the All-Around race. Tye and Minor were second in Sedro Woolley for nearly $1,200 and Tye added another $424 in tie-down. The two are 1-2 in All-Around, 1-2 in tie-down roping and they’ve teamed up to be the top-ranking duo in team roping. Another Ellensburg-er, Wade Kane is the association’s No. 1 bronc rider.

For the ladies, it’s another Ellensburg race as Kaycie Teague and Jordan Minor are 1-2 in the All-Around and 2-3 in breakaway. Teague is also second in barrels.

In Sedro, Josey Shannon won the breakaway ($956) and Annie Minor was fifth for $297. Maddie Kempf was eighth in barrels for $101.

Finally, let’s give our county contingent of high school rodeo athletes some good vibes as they get set to leave for the National High School Finals Rodeo later this week. I’ll be watching from afar.

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 jonguddat@yahoo.com.

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