the Old West Way
Elko, Nevada, holds a special
event that recreates the old-timer's way of topping off the rough
The Silver State Stampede Association in Elko, Nevada,
sponsors a special event in conjunction with its annual PRCA rodeo
held in July. This event is called Old West World Championship Bronc
in 2003, twenty top bronc riders came from several western states,
out of remote ranches and cows camps with names such as, State Line
Camp, Kitchen Meadows, White Horse Ranch, and Devil’s Corral to
ride the “bad ones”. These twenty bronc riders each put up a $400
entrance fee, with no stock charge, for a chance to ride for $8,000
in prize money and a World’s Championship buckle.
Saddle bronc riding is the classic event in
professional rodeo. This Old West version of the event takes bronc
riding back to its origins when the big outfits sent their top “bronco
men” to town to compete against each other. At the turn of the twentieth
century, there were hundreds of cowboys working on cow outfits in
the Elko area. It was a practice for neighboring cowboys to get
together and ride the “rough string” to see who was the best.
The Silver State Stampede is the oldest rodeo
in Nevada. The tradition of an annual rodeo in Elko started in 1913,
sponsored by G.S. Garcia, world famous bit, spur, and saddle maker.
Garcia, who owned the G.S, Garcia Harness and Saddle Shop in Elko
at that time, figured the rodeo would get northern Nevada cowboys
gathered for a good time, and it would provide entertainment and
income for the townspeople.
Bronc riding, at that time, had a minimum
of rules. Of course, the cowboy who made the wildest and showiest
ride usually took home the money. The hands in the region would
plan all year to attend this rodeo and try their luck. There have
been many saddle bronc riders who came out of Great Basin high desert
country to go on to the big time in the professional rodeo circuit.
Names like Marvel, Wines, Slagowski, Gardner, and others are well
known throughout the West in bronc riding circles.
years ago, the Prunty Brothers trailed their native bucking stock
over 100 miles from the Diamond A Desert, which straddles the Nevada-Idaho
border near Charleston, Nevada, to put on the Silver State Stampede.
Continuing this tradition, the bucking stock for the Old West Bronc
Riding this year was furnished by Wally Blossom from Owyhee, Nevada.
The broncs used were a mixture of big strong horses that had bucked
before and some young horses that had only been bucked out of a
chute once or twice before.
The riders used their own stock saddles and
a standard bucking horse halter and buck rein and the horses were
turned out from regular bucking horse chutes. The riders rode in
typical buckaroo style gear including chinks, some flat hats, and
occasionally, Garcia spurs.
There were very few broncs that
did not buck well and it was a very even pen of horses. Two experienced
cowboy pickup men were used to pick up the bronc riders and clear
the horses from the arena. Two experienced rough-stock judges marked
the rides. Unlike the original old time bronc riders, where the
rider rode the horses until they quit, this event was timed for
an 8 second ride. And the broncs did buck!!
rules for Old West Bronc Riding in 2003 were:
- Using a standard stock saddle, slick-fork
saddle, or slick-fork saddle with bucking rolls.
- Bucking rolls, sack or saddle blanket
rolled up and tied across the fork is allowed.
hold horn, cantle, night latch (rope or safety strap tied through
saddle gullet to help the rider hold on), or rope strap.
- No spur-out required and loss of stirrup
- No hobbling of stirrups (tying stirrups
together under the belly of the horse) or binds on stirrup leathers
(tying stirrup leathers to cinch and off-side billet).
- No “chapping” a horse at the gate (throwing
or slapping a pair of chaps or raincoat at the horse).
- Horses will be throat latched, at contractor’s
discretion. (“Throat latch” means tying the buck rein to the
halter strap that goes under the throat instead of tying to
the halter ring under the chin.)
- Same hand must remain on rein throughout
- Fanning with hat is allowed. Quirts will
not be allowed. Coiled rope is allowed on saddle, attached by
- Ride is for 8 seconds.
- Two well qualified rough-stock judges
each score horse from 1 to 25 points and rider 1 to 25 points
(100 points total possible for ride).
- The rodeo event is open to amateur and
All twenty bronc riders rode at a “long-go”
kick-off performance on Thursday evening. Before the bronc riding
began, there was a Calcutta auction held. Each bronc rider was auctioned
off and sold to the highest bidder. The Calcutta paid $1,470 to
the bidder who bought the winning rider for the evening. Rolly Lisle
of Bruneau, Idaho, [print 1] earned the winning bronc riding score,
which paid $1,000. Joe Heguy of Elko, Nevada, and Josh Smith of
Winnemucca, Nevada, split second and third places and were paid
twelve highest scoring bronc riders out of the original twenty in
the “long go” came back on Friday and Saturday evenings during the
PRCA performance, six riders each evening in a “sudden death “ ride.
Based on a one-head score, a champion was declared after the bronc
riding ended on Saturday. Cody Coucham of Lee, Nevada, and Eli Bur
of Victor, Idaho, had identical scores and split first and second
places. Each was awarded $2,400. Dan Hoots, Spring Creek, Nevada,
placed third and collected $1,200.
Since there was a split for the first prize,
in true Nevada cowboy fashion, the buckle winner was decided by
the flip of a coin. Eli Bur won the coin toss and the World’s Champion
Buckle. The $8,000 purse and the championship buckle that these
20 bronc riders rode for makes this, no doubt, the richest Old West
Bronc Riding held anywhere in the United States today.
Winner for 2004 Jack Payne
Silver State Stampede PRCA Rodeo and World's Championship Old West
July 8-9-10, 2004 Elko,
Sell out crowds
at the Elko County Fairgrounds watched real working cowboys and
buckaroos from around the west ride broncs with their regular stock
saddles and ropes for a lot of money, prizes, and bragging rights.
Forty ranch bronc riders signed up for the Old West Bronc Riding
during a three-day special event at the Silver State Stampede in
Elko, Nevada. There were working
ranch cowboys competing from Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon, South
Dakota, Colorado, Washington,
Montana and Texas.
rode on Thursday night and ten rode on Friday in the “long-go.”
The top fourteen riders came back in the championship “short-go”
round on Saturday night. A Calcutta was held on Thursday evening
selling all forty of the bronc riders to the highest bidders.
When the scores
were added up, Jack Payne, buckaroo from Jordan Valley, Oregon,
came out in first place. Jack received a check for $6,000,
a trophy buckle, and a Fredrick Remington bronze, “The Outlaw,”
donated by Western Horseman Magazine. Six places were paid
in this riding event. This makes the Old West Bronc Riding
in Elko, Nevada the richest riding event
of its kind in the United States.
from Owyhee, Nevada furnished the stock and
the horses did buck! First place Calcutta bidder was paid
The Old West
is alive and well in the Great Basin of Northern Nevada.
The Silver State Stampede committee
would like to see more entries in the Old West Bronc Riding event
every year. Sponsorship of the event and of contestants is
encouraged. Sponsors’ names will be announced during the rodeo performances.
Elko has long been known as the heart of the
far West. Elko has been a leader in preserving our western heritage.
The Elko National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is a premier western event
held each year. The Western Folk Life Center displays horse gear
made by working buckaroos from throughout the Great Basin and the
West and is open to the general public.
If you want to see that the Old West is alive
and well, come to Elko in July for the Silver State Stampede PRCA
rodeo and Old West Bronc Riding.
For applications, sponsorship, or more information
concerning entries for this event and the Stampede
Silver State Stampede
at PO Box 7, Elko, NV 89803
or call Ralph
Chiquete for more information at 775-397-2275 .
A version of this article appeared in the
December, 2003 issue of Western Horseman Magazine.