Roughrider Days Rodeo a perfect storm of stock, timing for top saddle bronc riders
For some of the world's top saddle bronc riders, this weekend's Roughrider Days Rodeo is a perfect storm.
This year's edition of the three-day rodeo falls on a weekend where several of the best cowboys can make it a stop along their busy "Cowboy Christmas" tours.
And, as always, there are the broncs.
"I usually don't enter anywhere that I don't think there's going to be something that's good to get on," said Cody Wright, the two-time world champion from Milford, Utah, who will ride tonight in Dickinson.
Korkow Rodeo is the stock contractor for all the Roughrider Days Rodeo's roughstock events (saddle bronc riding, bareback riding and bull riding). The Pierre, S.D., company is particularly well known in rodeo circles for its bucking horses -- and the cowboys who ride them tend to know exactly where they'll be during the year.
"Korkow has got some of the best horses going, as far as I'm concerned," said Wright, who is second in the world standings. "They always have had. The way they're breeding, I'm sure it'll be a long time before they don't. That's definitely an attraction."
Last year, Korkow Rodeo sent seven bucking horses -- six in the saddle bronc, one in bareback -- and two bulls to the National Finals Rodeo, where they've been a staple contractor since 1959.
Jim Korkow's father, Erv, got into the stock contracting business in 1947. Now, there isn't a roughstock rider in professional rodeo who doesn't know his name.
"We've been doing this since the 50s," Korkow said. "Consequently, we've put a lot of work and a lot of effort into raising this type of horse. We're finding that it's paying off."
The Korkow family's stock is so well respected that it had to turn away more than 25 bronc riders who tried entering the Roughrider Days Rodeo, which limited entries to 15 each day.
"Everybody wants to get on good horses," said Cody Taton, a Newell, S.D., native ranked No. 5 in the world standings. "There's a lot of bronc riders in that country too, so there's a lot of numbers."
Of the 45 bronc riders who are signed up, 17 are ranked among the top 50 in this week's world standings, including Wright, his brothers Jesse Wright (No. 3) and Jake Wright (No. 8), South Dakota cousins Cole Elshere (No. 6) and J.J. Elshere (No. 18), as well as NFR qualifiers Isaac Diaz (No. 21) and Taos Muncy (No. 22).
Also attending are some Badlands Circuit standouts, including ranked nationally Clay Schaeffer of Dickinson, Chuck Schmidt of Keldron, S.D., and Dawson Jandreau of Kennebec, S.D.
This weekend's rodeo in Dickinson is one of more than 30 in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest the majority of the world's top bronc riders plan to frequent between now and the weekend after the Fourth of July.
"These next two weeks kind of determine who's fixing to go to the finals," said Elshere, a 22-year-old from Faith, S.D. "You pretty much know the top guys after these next couple of weekends. You need to have a good Fourth of July run to be able to set yourself up good for this fall."