The trucks rolled in on Thursday afternoon. They looked like rock stars getting off the tour bus, hair blowing in the wind as they unloaded, shaking off the boredom of the road, stretching as they gathered their bearings at the Kittitas County Events Center.
Some let out a blow, looking around as they took in the fresh air, the Ellensburg wind stirring through their manes.
It wasn’t the big city and bright lights at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, but several of these rock stars have bucked at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and they put on the same performance Friday night to open the 14th Annual Daily Record Bares and Broncs specialty event.
“We try to bring in better and better stock every year,” organizer and Summit Pro Rodeo partner Daniel Beard said. “Summit and Flying Five Five/Big Bend Rodeo have been bringing horses to the Ellensburg Rodeo for years.
“Bar T is new this year. I was looking at the results from Coarsegold (Calif.) Battle of the Best Rodeo last week and all their horses scored in the high 80s. So, we’re happy to add them this year.”
The name reads Bares and Broncs and these rock stars are the other half of the score that’s one part cowboy, one part buckin’ horse, with a lot of true grit balanced in between.
Horses like Kangaroo Lou (Summit Pro Rodeo), Hell Boy (Bar T), Black Mary (Flying Five), Johnny Be Good (Flying Five), Big Chief (Bar T) and Crossfire (Summit Pro Rodeo) were all part of Friday night’s show.
“I would say half of the stock here this weekend has been to the NFR and the rest are the ones we think should have been,” Summit Pro Rodeo partner J.D. Hamacker said.
“Between Bar T, Summit and Flying Five, the quality of these horses here is really good.”
Bar T Rodeo partner Jeff Flitten agreed. His son Cody brought the A-Team up from California where they bucked at the Coarsegold (Calif.) Battle of the Best Rodeo last week.
The success on Bar T horses at the Coarsegold was evident. Lefty Marvel Holman rode Sure Thang to 86.5 points. CoBurn Bradshaw posted an 86-point ride on Bitter Robin. In the finals, Brody Cress won $12,800 with an 88.5-point ride on Hell Boy in the short-go.
So, the quality was there with 11 of the 20 horses on the truck having competed at the National Finals Rodeo. Maybe not all would buck in Ellensburg, but over half on the truck have been to The Mack.
“I would say all the 40 broncs here are as good as any round at the NFR,” Flitten said. “It’s pretty cool. We haven’t been to Pendleton or Cheyenne or Calgary because of our schedule. This is our first time in Ellensburg and we’re excited to be here. There’s a lot of great horses and we’re glad to be a part of that.”
Summit Pro Rodeo brought 27 horses from Laramie, Wyo., to combine with the stock partner Daniel Beard already has in town.
One of the biggest rock stars in the Summit herd is Kangaroo Lou, who won a round at the 2021 NFR when she and Hillsdale, Wyo., cowboy Brody Cress combined for a 91-point ride in front of 17,210 fans at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“I’d seen a lot of good videos and that horse has a lot of potential,” Cress told the NFR Experience.com after the ride.
“She’s young and kind of gets skittish in the chutes. I knew if we could a good start out of there and I could help her along, we were going to have a good ride.”
The ride turned out to be a great ride, and the potential of Kangaroo Lou was on display again in the iconic Ellensburg Rodeo arena Friday night where she and Kole Ashbacher from Arrowwood Alberta rocked the arena.
“Kangaroo Lou is seven years old, but she’s young in terms of experience,” Hamacker said. “Last year was her first full year out on the deal, but we won a go-round at the NFR on her.
“She’s not real pattered yet. She’s still trying to figure things out, but she’s learning as she goes along.”
The show continues tonight with Newell, S.D. cowboy Lane Schuelke up on Sure Thang (Bar T). Jesse James Kirby from Cheney has a good one with Bar T saddle bronc Jitter Bug.
Sam Harper of Paradise Valley, Nev., is up on Major Spirit (Flying Five).
Sherwood Park, AB cowboy Kody Lamb drew Summit’s Tail Feathers.