Not everyone needs a saddle to ride a horse |

Not everyone needs a saddle to ride a horse

Ryan Slabaugh

“It was a bet. We were just going out to this practice deal and my friend told me he’d buy me lunch if I rode,” Shirley said. “I tried it, I liked it, so I stuck with it.”

Shirley was one of seven competitors at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event at the Eagle County Fairgrounds Thursday and got all the ride he bargained for. He finished the eight-second spot on Bad Attitude, a horse that preceded to buck harder after the tone sounded and went on for a good 30 seconds. He scored a 70, which wasn’t enough to beat Mark Garrett of Nisland, S.D., the 1996 World Champion who rode Vegas to the tone of an 81. Still, Shirley insists he’s better off without a saddle.

“I’d rather not get my foot hung up,” he explained. “I’d rather have my head in the air. Either way, I don’t think about all the things that could happen. You start thinking about it, you’ll go insane.”

One of his competitors, Bronson Burbach of Bailey, might have rethought the free lunch. Burbach was left limping after his ride, which didn’t count due to a technical penalty. Burbach started in high school and thought it was fun – to ride bareback, on a bucking horse with the narrow-minded goal of sending folks like Burbach to the dirt.

“When I have a good ride going, the horse has a good rhythm and gets me in the air,” Burbach said. “This is probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done.”

Support Local Journalism

But with the young stars come the veterans. South Dakota native Larry Sandvick, nine-time qualifier for the Wrangler National Finals and winner last week at the Cheyenne Frontier Days, has been without a saddle for 26 years. Like all the riders, he tapes his arms, puts pads in his jeans and wears a hat a junkman couldn’t pull off with a prybar.

“This is the most physically demanding event, they say,” said Sandvick, who goes by the name of Wild Man. “Things get a little wilder than in the other events. It’s controlled mayhem, if you will.”

The field Thursday included Marvin Garrett of South Dakota, the four-time world champion, as well as Will Pittman, two-time national finals qualifier.

Judges base their scores on the action from the horse, and the performance of the cowboy. James Boudreaux of Cuero, Texas, picked up second place with a 78.

Other results for Thursday’s action at the 63rd annual Eagle County Rodeo.

Calf roping

Charlie Kingsbury of Orchard put up a 9.4-second run, putting him in the money for the day and the overall. Kingsbury’s two-run time of 19.0 has him well in the lead, ahead of Elizabeth’s J.G. Marshall, whose 10.1 Thursday has him a second behind in the overall. Ricky Lambert picked up second place Thursday with a 9.9 second run.

Steer wrestling

J.D. Crouse, of Canon City, was denied on Wednesday, but came back with a head-spinning time of 5.1 to win Thursday’s bulldogging contest. Docy’s Johnny Silva conquered his steer in 6.4 seconds, but it’s Dolores’ Brian Cline who stands in the overall lead with a 12.3 second total for two runs.

Saddle Bronc

Chad Mosher of Yoder rode first and finished first. Mosher rode Smokeless Ike for the full eight seconds and scored a 74, just ahead of Chet Johnson, of Gillette, Wyo., who scored a 70.

Team Roping

Jay and Ryan Tittle of Pueblo tag-teamed their calf in 13.4 seconds on the next-to-last run of the night. The duo knocked off Eagle’s own Scott Jones and Jess Echtler, who stood atop the leaderboard for six runs with a time of 15.1 until the Tittle’s got their chance.

Barrel Racing

The four-time World Champion proved why she has so many golden belt buckles. Elbert’s Kristie Peterson rode a time of 17.01 to sneak by eight competitors who entered times within 0.7 seconds of Peterson’s. Fort Collins’ Lynn Brown ran the barrels in a 17.10 for second place.

Bull Riding

Results were not available as of press time.

The PRCA rodeo continues today at 7 p.m. at the Eagle County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for children (6-12) and $8 for seniors.

Support Local Journalism