Stock contractors strive to give cowboys the ride of their lives

Top-quality stock has helped earn the Farm-City Pro Rodeo a national reputation.

Stock contractors strive to give cowboys the ride of their lives

By JADE McDOWELL

East Oregonian

STAFF PHOTO BY E.J. HARRIS

Calgary Stampede roughstock eat alfalfa in a pen at the Double M Ranch feedlot on Tuesday waiting to perform in the Farm-City Pro Rodeo in Hermiston.

A cowboy at the top of his game is always a pleasure to watch at the rodeo, but the real magic doesn’t happen unless the animal he is riding is up to the challenge.

It’s a challenge the Farm-City Pro Rodeo takes seriously. Cowboys voted last year’s Farm-City bucking horses the best in the country and this year’s stable looks just as strong.

“There are lots of fun horses that should give the guys a good shot at some money — or the dirt,” T.J. Korkow of Korkow Rodeos said.

He’s bringing a number of stars to the rodeo, including Flaxy Lady, the horse that has given several bareback riders an 88-point ride this year. He is also bringing in newer talent with names like Fraid Knot and Wiggle Worm to build on their growing reputation as a tough ride.

“We’ve got some young horses that are pretty fun up-and-comers,” Korkow said.

Keith Marrington of Calgary Stampede said he brought Lynx Mountain, a feisty saddle bronc that has qualified for the National Finals Rodeo and Canadian Finals Rodeo “many times” and carried Rusty Wright to a win with an 89-point ride in the Calgary Stampede this summer.

“She’s really pretty special,” Marrington said.

Speaking of special, Marrington said Special Delivery, a stallion that has been earning top bareback status at rodeos right and left, will make an appearance, as will Saturn Rocket and Wild Cherry. 

Meanwhile Bottle Rocket, the jet-black bull owned by Corey & Lange Rodeos that won this year’s Calgary Stampede by giving Sage Kimzey a 92.5 ride, will also make an appearance in Hermiston. 

“There should be some tough bull riding this year,” Marrington said.

In recognition to its dedication to quality stock, the Farm-City Pro Rodeo won the 2014 Remuda Award, given to a rodeo each year by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in recognition for the “best, most consistent bucking horses” in the country. Stock contractors were Korkow Rodeos, Calgary Stampede, Kesler Rodeos and Mike Corey and Tom Lange. 

 

STAFF PHOTO BY E.J. HARRIS

Korkow Rodeos bucking bulls mill around in a pen at the Double M Ranch feedlot Tuesday waiting to appear in the Farm-City Pro Rodeo this week in Hermiston.

 

Korkow described the Remuda Award as winning “the World Series for rodeos.” When rodeos like Farm-City cherry pick top-quality stock from multiple contractors, he said, it attracts cowboys who know whatever animal they come out of the chute with will allow them to have a great ride.

“Most of them feel like when they get here they have a chance to win some money, and that’s what it takes to get them here,” he said.

Marrington said the Farm-City Pro Rodeo is a great place to be a stock contractor. 

“This community does rodeo right,” he said.

The professionalism, the dirt, the bucking chutes, the pens, the attention to detail and the overall experience are top-notch, he said. Hermiston helps kick off the Northwest rodeo circuit, he said, and cowboys are always excited when they arrive.

Both Marrington and Korkow said they are optimistic those things will continue when the rodeo moves to the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center next year. They said they got a tour of the EOTEC site last year and they feel their input has been taken seriously when it comes to keeping the things that contractors and cowboys love about the current site.

Korkow said one change he is looking forward to is having the animals housed on site instead of outside of town like they are now.

“It will be so much handier,” he said, noting that right now he spends hours in the afternoon transporting and settling in stock, only to have to turn around after the rodeo and get them all back to the stockyards.

“It’s almost 1 in the morning by the time we get back into town,” he said.

He said not having to transport the animals several miles also decreases the risk to his stock.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.