Bares and Broncs 1801

Cowboys crowd around a fellow rider to help with a broken stirrup after a horse got too rowdy in the gate during Bares and Broncs last year at the Ellensburg Rodeo Arena.

After 11 years, it’s clear an event has staying power, but now in it’s 12th year the Daily Record Bares & Broncs futurity can’t be accused of resting on its laurels.

Event promotor Daniel Beard was aggressive after last year’s futurity, keeping strong relationships with local sponsors, while attracting attention of the World Futurity Association as well as a few sponsors beyond Kittitas County. The result? Two days of action, more added money and notoriety and more cowboys looking for a solid payday on bucking horses that might not be household names…yet.

The Bares & Broncs made its name by pairing up-and-coming riders with similarly experienced horses. It has adapted over time — covering entry fees for cowboys and giving winners buckles with an image of their ride laser-engraved in leather — but much has remained the same: unpredictable bucking horses with riders trying to cover and spur for eight seconds worthy of a payday.

This year, there are 30 cowboys entered each night, with a few more on a wait list.

“A lot of guys might do both days,” Beard said earlier this week. “Entry fees are still paid for by the sponsors and there’s quite a bit more added money than there was before. That usually goes together pretty well.”

Now a two-day format, each evening is a stand-alone event, with aggregate scores not a factor. Beard has always provided his own stock from Daniel Beard Rodeos for the Bares & Broncs — he’s also a partner in Summit Pro Rodeos — but with the newer format, he looked to other contractors to provide stock as well.

“Friday night will almost be entirely my stock,” he said, “kind of like the Bares & Broncs of the past. Saturday night, my 4- and 5-year-olds might be added around everyone else’s colts.”

Beard is happy to be a part of the WFA’s circuit of events. The WFA is an association dedicated to promoting roughstock futurity events and while much of its sanctioned events are in the Midwest and Canada, it readily welcomed the Bares & Broncs to its schedule.

“When I contacted them about doing a show out here, there was quite a bit of interest to come to Ellensburg. It fit a regional spot for guys already doing bucking shows.”

The established Bares & Broncs, along with other events around the county, is part of a growing number of bronc riding events.

“There’s an intense focus right now, saying, if we don’t encourage this, it’s going to be hard to keep the involvement, contestants and spectators,” Beard said. “Let’s be creative. It’s good to see that.”

It also benefits contractors to be a part of events like these as horses that perform well gain word-of-mouth celebrity as well as hits on YouTube and social media.

“There’s some different motivations,” Beard said. “These horses get raised and then get experience in the chutes and arena and then sold (at a year-end futurity sale during the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas).”

That’s not necessarily Beard’s goal as he’s looking to advance his stock from his own rodeo company to Summit which produces some notable professional rodeos around the nation.

“There’s always a little bit of envy looking at those guys who are cashing out their assets and getting a little cash flow going. But at the same time, I think there’s some envy in what I’m doing coming from their side, too. I get to rodeo them (which generates money as well).”

No matter the motivation for cowboys or contractors, this weekend’s goal is to win money. Plenty of former winners and placers are back for the weekend and the contestant list includes riders from all around the Northwest. Bronc riders like Austin Krogh and Wyatt Grant are entered on Friday, while bareback riders Francis Marchand and Kyle Bounds are set for Saturday.

Cle Elum-Roslyn High School senior Brennan Maletzke is ready for Friday. The state high school saddle bronc rider is also vying for a high school state championship, so he can’t miss this weekend’s scheduled stop in Goldendale. He’ll be at Bares & Broncs on Friday and in Goldendale for Saturday and Sunday’s high school rounds.

“I turned out for Saturday’s Bares & Broncs just so I can focus on high school this weekend, but I’m definitely entered for Friday,” he said on Wednesday.

This is Maletzke’s third year at the futurity and while he’s yet to score a qualified ride, he’s gaining maturity in the mental part of rodeo.

“It’s starting to click more for me,” he said. “I’m getting out of my head a little bit and I’m riding better. Last week I saw some good improvement with spurring.

“It’s a lot more mental than physical. It takes a lot of horses to get it to slow down enough to actually think and react while you’re on the horse. I’m more confident this year. I just go into it thinking it’s just another horse.”

Beyond his own ride, Maletzke looks forward to watching others.

“Daniel brings really good horses to it and there’s a lot of riders that are way better than me and it’s really fun to watch them ride and learn.”

It’s fun for Beard to watch the event take shape, while also getting an up-close view of his stock from the chutes.

Five-year old Spanish Jacket out of professional rodeo horse Miss Independent will buck.

“It’s just one of those horses where you can go back three generations that have NFR experience. It’s pretty incredible.”

Goodnight Trail and Dawson Creek will also be ready for the chute to open. And offspring of Trailer Home will be there as well.

“It’s a sign of generations turning over,” Beard said. “Some of my famous names are having kids now running through.”

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