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Gillette – The first professionally sanctioned Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association (WRRA) rodeo in the state of Wyoming will be held on May 31 and June 1 at the Camplex’s Morningside Park Arena in Gillette. 

Heidi Huggins, owner of Bucking H Designs, and Tiffany Schwenke, owner of North Four Mile Creek Horse Ranch, are co-producing the WRRA event, the Bucking H Bash Rodeo. 

Teams of the rodeo will consist of four members, with a maximum of 16 teams being able to participate at the rodeo. 


“We have people coming from Canada to Texas and everywhere in between,” says Schwenke. “We are also going to have all the Campbell County Commissioners and some local rodeo royalty at the WRRA, as well.” 

The WRRA started 18 years ago in Kansas and has held rodeos in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and now Wyoming. 

The events that will be held at the Bucking H Bash are the traditional ranch rodeo events of calf branding, tie down, sorting, doctoring and trailer loading.

“People can come watch and see what life is like on a ranch with the very authentic events that could happen any day,” says Higgins. “We can seat 3,000 people, which is great, and I sure hope that we can get about 1,000 people to attend.”


Huggins started planning the Bucking H Bash last fall and recruited Schwenke early this year to help bring the idea of the WRRA rodeo to life. 

“Heidi and I just feed off of each other, and we work very well together,” states Schwenke. “We hope that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that we are able to have this rodeo in Gillette every year.”

“The biggest thing I really thought was great about the WRRA, especially for Wyoming, is that we are the equality state and were the first state to give women a strong-hold in the public eye and in life itself,” comments Huggins. 

She continues, “This whole association is dedicated to showing women can do anything and everything on a ranch that their husbands can do.” 


The rodeo’s festivities will begin at 6 p.m. May 30 with a calcutta of the teams at Jake’s Tavern. Following the calcutta will be the musical performance of Western Underground, Chris LeDoux’s band. 

Before the June 1 rodeo performance, Huggins and Schwenke are hosting an Open Stray Gather competition open to men and women, locals and non-locals, including those who are not members of the WRRA. 

“We are hoping to attract a bunch of locals to compete in the stray gather,” encourages Schwenke. “We have buckles for the contestants and  a cash payout for the winners.” 

Schwenke notes that everyone who brings horse to the complex, regardless if they are a local or from out-of -state, must have a current health inspection and Coggins test for their horses. 

“We want to make sure everybody’s horses are healthy, and all horses will be checked,” states Schwenke. “We don’t want anybody to go home with a sick horse when they are coming to have fun at our rodeo.”


“We have over 100 awards to give away, which include three trophy saddles, 12 trophy buckles and tons of other awesome awards, such as bronc style leather tooled halters, saddle pads, sport medicine boots and spur straps,” explains Schwenke.

“We’ll have a top hand saddle to give away each day, and then our third saddle will be given away as our ‘Buck Up’ award,” comments Schwenke. “We will have contestants vote and give the saddle away to somebody who is a good sportsman.”

“We have over 60 sponsors and have awards from 12 states and two countries,” exclaims Huggins. “Literally every woman in the rodeo will receive something, even if they get dead last.” 

While some of the awards came from locals, Huggins says that awards and merchandise were received from across the country.

“We have just had a phenomenal response to what we are doing and everybody seems to be excited about it and want to be a part of it – we are very thrilled about that,” says Schwenke. 

Social media

“Kate Martin, owner of Lazy KT Designs, has been a tremendous asset to Heidi and me, and she is our director for marketing and advertising,” says Schwenke. “We hired her specifically to write our Facebook page posts and to promote our sponsors through social media on Instagram and Twitter.”

“We want our sponsors to get their money’s worth and feel appreciated for sponsoring our rodeo, not just be mentioned on the day of the rodeo,” she adds.

“We want to promote them during the months leading up to the rodeo, and if they have a sale or promotion, she’ll post it on Facebook and puts links to their pages and websites,” comments Huggins.   

Tickets for the rodeo can be purchased at Longhorn Saddlery and Jordan’s Western Dining for $8 each or at the gate for $10. 

Madeline Robinson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Next year's event

“We are going to double sanction this rodeo next year with the Western States Ranch Rodeo Association (WSRRA),” explains Bucking H Bash co-producer Tiffany Schwenke. “We’ll have two arenas set-up. In one arena, we’ll have the Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association (WRRA) rodeo, and in the other arena, we’ll have the Men’s Ranch Rodeo.”

She continues, “We’ll also have a match bronc riding next year at the rodeo, so we are doubling it in size next year.”

Heidi Huggins, co-producer of the event, also notes that it is her goal to also include a western art show in conjunction with the event. She says they plan to continue to grow and improve each year.

“We want this rodeo to eventually be known as the kickoff to the summer events,” says Schwenke. “We want everybody from the state to want to come to our rodeo.”

She adds, “It’s going to be a big family fun event. We don’t want people to think it’s just for women because it’s a women’s ranch rodeo. There are activities and events for everyone.”

Other events

In between the events at the Bucking H Bash, activities for the kids of the crowd are planned, including a stick horse race and dummy roping. 

“We have over 60 buckles to give away to the kids,” comments Tiffany Schwenke, co-producer of the Bucking H Bash. “Basically, all the kids are going to get a buckle for being in the events. They just have to be present to enter, and their entry fee for the events is the cost of their ticket to get into the rodeo.”

For musical entertainment, Schwenke and fellow co-producer Heidi Huggins have cowgirl poet and singer Trinity Seeley performing live at the rodeo on both Saturday and Sunday. 

“After the rodeo on Saturday, there will be an after party at Boot Hill, which is a legendary steak house and nightclub,” says Schwenke. “Then after the rodeo on Sunday, there will be an awards ceremony.” 

The rodeo will be catered with food from Jordan’s Western Dining located in Gillette, which was recently rated the number one steakhouse in Wyoming, notes Huggins. 

Vendors and local artists will also be present at the rodeo.



Amarillo, Texas – Two eastern Wyoming ranches, Bootheel 7 and Hageman Ranch, together as one, made the 10-hour trek to Amarillo, Texas last week to try their hand at bringing home a world championship title at the National Ranch Rodeo Finals for the Working Ranch Cowboys Association (WRCA).

The cowboys had to be at the Civic Center by Nov. 11 for a mandatory team meeting, followed by dinner and calcutta. The team consisted of brothers Andrew and Eric Wasserburger and Nolan Brott of Lusk, Brett Hageman of Fort Laramie and Lance Hladky of Casper. This year, 23 teams participated in the rodeo, with a Nov. 12 rodeo kicking off the weekend.

At the WRCA event, the rodeo performances are broken up into four performances over four days. Half of the qualifying teams perform two or three exhibitions each day. The events of the ranch rodeo are mostly the same as any locally run show, with a few minor changes, and are based on what a day of working as a cowboy and rancher is like.

Competing in Texas

On the evening of Nov. 12, Bootheel 7 and Hageman Ranch was selected to do bronc riding, stray gathering and wild cow milking.

In the gather, they clocked in at 78.06 seconds. A fast time of 36.41 was recorded in the milking, and Hladky rode his first bronc, receiving the high score of 80.

Those events placed them in the middle of the pack for the evening.

The following night, the Wyoming boys had some tough luck with long times in team penning – 177.25 on two head – and branding, with a time of 105.53.

The Nov. 13 performance brought a no time, or disqualification, in the stray gathering because of the loop limit.

Wild cow milking left the team with a quick time of 28 seconds, but that quickly changed when the judges added on a 30-second penalty. It was determined that Brott crossed the starting line too early while in the arena.

Hladky had yet another qualified bronc ride of 73 points, placing him eighth overall.

Last night

The fourth and final day of the rodeo weekend was the best day for the boys from the Cowboy State.

Team penning situated them with a time of 73.45, and the team branding clocked a fast 45.16 second run, placing them second overall for the event in the second go-around.

WRCA works on the points-per-event system, so for every event completed, points are awarded. At the end of the rodeo, the team with the highest number of points wins. 

This year, the world champions came from a ranch in Kansas called Lonesome Pine. The boys from Wyoming came up short, landing in the middle of the pack for the weekend.

Positive experience

Hageman said, “Amarillo was really great. It’s the NFR of the ranching world, and I would encourage everyone to go see it if they ever get a chance. I’m really proud and fortunate to be on the team that I am. They’re the best ropers and toughest guys. Having the best bronc rider really helped make it one of the greatest times of my life.”

He noted that the experience was very positive, and captain Andrew Wasserburger motivated the team to perform at their best.

“It was a really great experience,” Hageman said. “Our team captain Andrew Wasserburger is the one who always keeps us going and gets us to perform our best. He’s always there to keep us upbeat, giving us Dr. Seuss quotes.”

Hageman continued, “One of the quotes Andrew gave us in Texas was, ‘Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if you only try!’”

WRCA Ranch Rodeo

The Working Ranch Cowboy’s Association (WRCA) Ranch Rodeo includes five events.

In team penning, teams must sort of a specific number of cattle into a small pen as a team.

In team branding, two small calves must be roped by a mounted cowboy and then dragged to three team members on the ground. The ground crew must flank and brand the calf, with the fastest time winning.

Ranch bronc riding is when one member of each team must ride a bucking horse for a total of eight seconds. The bronc rider is scored based on his ability to stay on the animal, gaining more points for “showboating” his ride. Activities such as spurring garner more points.

Stray gathering showcases the cowboys’ roping and horsemanship skills, much like doctoring cattle out on the prairie. This event is very precise, because only a certain number of loops are allowed to be thrown while in the arena. Teams must head and heel two steers and tie three of the animal’s legs together with a piggin’ string using a half hitch knot. Once the animal is tied down, an official will then time six seconds, making sure the steer stays gathered and does not get up.

What seems to be the crowd favorite, wild cow milking, demonstrates one cowboy’s roping ability and three other’s patience and strength with a mama cow. Once the cow is roped, the three muggers on the ground must attempt to hold her still as one squeezes at least enough of her milk to pour out into a bottle. Only a few drops are needed. The cowboy then runs to a designated area of the arena, where an official dumps out the collected milk, stopping the time clock.

Lacey Brott is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Brott also writes for the Lusk Herald. Send comments on this article to

A sense of pride passes through Randy Dunn as he watches the Cheyenne Frontier Days parade. Seated astride various roan horses are dignitaries, the Governor, generals, sheriffs, Pendleton girls and rodeo queens. The calm horses make their way down the parade route, seeming unimpressed by the excitement of the annual event.
What makes Dunn proud is that those horses were born and raised at his Laramie ranch, where Dunn and his wife Laurie run commercial cattle and registered Blue Valentine-bred mares.
“Our family has raised horses and cattle for over 125 years on the same ranch,” explains Dunn. “Consequently, the ‘Running M’ brand is one of the oldest registered brands in Wyoming. Our horses are used in everyday ranch operations, from doctoring yearlings to branding calves, and they allow the upcoming generation of ranchers to improve their horsemanship and cattleman skills. This has proven to produce well-rounded, athletic, gentle-disposition horses that are at home in any situation.”
The couple also has a great trainer on board.
“We are pleased to have Billy Ward ride our geldings for us,” says Dunn. “He is considered one of the ‘greats’ in the rodeo business, and has been to the NFR as a pick-up man for seven years.”
In 2005 the couple entered into a partnership with Ward to exclusively ride and market their geldings.
“The riding and the experience these horses gain make them outstanding arena and using horses,” says Dunn. “The geldings are well broke when we sell them, and they have been hauled to lots of rodeos and parades, have carried flags and have been washed and shod. They have also had many different riders, so they aren’t hooked on one rider.”
“We don’t want to sell a gelding that isn’t well broke, because we don’t want anyone to have problems with them,” he notes. “Through Billy and our sale, we have three world champions riding our horses right now. These are guys who have competed with them at the National Finals Rodeo. Our horses have the bloodlines to be great performance horses, it’s just been a matter of getting them into the hands of capable people like Billy Ward.”
Dunn says it takes continuous work to produce the quality of horses that are in such demand.
“Our family has always raised horses. In the 1930s, they raised remount horses for the U.S. Cavalry. By the late ‘30s they started raising registered Quarter Horses. Over the years, our focus has been to perpetuate the Blue Valentine bloodlines so they don’t die off, because they are such good horses,” states Dunn. “The capacity of their minds is unbelievable, not to mention how easily they can adapt to any situation. When we pull the stallions from the mares, it always amazes people how the stallions can run together the rest of the year. We have 13 studs running together, eating out of the same hay feeder.”
Dunn says the horses, for the most part, have been easy to train.
“Out of the 60 or more horses Billy has taken, there have only been two that took a long time to give it up,” he notes. “We start a lot of them here at the ranch and do some of the groundwork. Some will hump up a little when we first put the saddle on them, but they work through it pretty well. We start most of our fillies, too, because we want to find out what’s in their head before we make a broodmare out of them.”
According to Dunn, the combination of the bloodlines is very appealing to the customers who purchase the horses.
“They can use them many different ways. Some of the horses are world champions in rodeo, while others are used for trail and pleasure. We have a horse right now that is being ridden by one of the Dandies. Our horses make great ranch horses, but they have enough in them that you can take them anywhere and be competitive,” he continues.
Cheyenne Frontier Days has proved to be great advertising for the couple.
“In 2010 we had over 15 horses at Cheyenne Frontier Days involved in the parade, picking up and competing in the rodeo,” says Dunn. “We were proud to have the Governor and the First Lady riding our horses in the parade, along with numerous other dignitaries. You have to really trust a horse to do that – but we’ve never had any problems. I don’t consider any horse totally bomb proof, but I think ours are as close as you could come.”
“These same horses doubled as pick-up horses in the afternoon at the rodeo,” says Dunn. “One of our horses, owned by Mickey Gee, qualified for the short go last year. Being able to compete at Cheyenne Frontier Days shows the quality of these horses. Mickey’s horse even mounted several riders for the steer wrestling.”
The couple handpicks around 25 Blue Valentine horses each year to sell in the “Come to the Source” sale, which will be held at the Albany County Fairgrounds in Laramie on Aug. 27. Although Ward markets many of the geldings throughout the year, he brings some back for Dunn to sell during the annual production sale.
A preview will be held at 10 a.m., with the sale to follow at 1 p.m. Dunn says he has started to videotape his horses at different times to allow people who miss the preview to see what his horses can do.
“People who miss the preview can see my horses on a DVD before the sale,” he explains. “I can forward the DVD right to the horse they want to see, and they can watch it as many times as they wish.”
For more information, contact Dunn at 307-742-4669 or visit Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rock Springs – Big Piney high school freshman Karson Bradley proved she has a place in rodeo when she won the All-Around Rookie Cowgirl at the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) in Rock Springs at the Sweetwater Events Complex during July 13-19. 

Bradley, the daughter of Mack and Tiffany Bradley, won the Rookie Cowgirl title with a total of 450 points. 

The NHSFR rodeo had over 1,500 contestants attend, and they came from all over the U.S., Canada and Australia to compete for a national title.  


“It meant a lot to me to win Rookie Cowgirl because this is my first year competing at the NHSFR. I’m only a freshman, and that’s a pretty big accomplishment for me,” comments Bradley. 

She continues, “Competing in the NHSFR was a very cool experience. It was fun meeting new people from across America, Canada and Australia and learning from older and stronger contestants there, as well.” 

To win the All-Around Rookie, a contestant must have points in two events, and Bradley was able to achieve high enough points in both barrel racing and pole bending to qualify for the All-Around. 


Bradley is 14 years old and no stranger to national rodeo competitions. Three years ago, when she was in sixth grade, she was the champion in barrel racing at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR) in Gallup, N.M. with a time of 16.605 seconds. 

In seventh grade, Bradley placed seventh overall in barrel racing out of a 153 contestants. 

“I’ve been competing in rodeo since I was six years old,” states Bradley. “I have always ridden horses since I was little, and I started running barrels on my older horses.”

Her dad’s experience as a team roper led her to the rodeo arena. Bradley plans on competing in breakaway roping next year. 

Favorite event

“It’s a very difficult decision to choose my favorite event between barrel racing and pole bending,” ponders Bradley. “Some days I lean more towards barrels because I have worked so hard my whole life doing barrels, but poles are really fun.”

She adds, “It just depends on the day as to which event is my favorite.” 

When asked what she loves most about rodeo, she explains rodeo challenges a person to be at their best, and she gets to compete against some tough competition. 

“When competing in rodeo, it is also a challenge to keep my horse running in top shape during every single rodeo. It can be tough at times,” she explains. 

Future goals 

While Bradley is not certain which college she will attend in a few years, she is confident it will be a college where she can continue her rodeo career. 

“A future plan of mine is to professionally rodeo and rodeo during college. I’ll always rodeo – that’s for sure,” claims Bradley. “I want to make it to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) when I’m older.” 

When asked what advice she would give to fellow rodeo contestants, she states, “Contestants should try their hardest and never give up. If they have a bad rodeo, they just need to go home and practice and prepare to come back stronger than they ever have.”

“If I don’t have a great run one time, I just go home and practice so that the next time I compete I’m able to have a good run,” she states. “If I struggle one time. I just work twice as hard, if not harder.” 

NHSFR Wyoming contestants

Team Wyoming finished 10th out of the 40 teams in attendance at the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR). Wyoming finished with a total of 3,950 points. 

The Wyoming boys and girls team also each finished 10th, with the boys scoring 2,185 points and the girls scoring 1,765 points. A total of 38 teams were present for the boys and 35 teams for the girls. 

Several Wyoming contestants competed in the Short Round of the NHSFR, and Sheridan’s Jeffery Zdziarski finished in fourth place overall in bareback riding with 208 points. In the Short Round, he placed third with a score of 72. 

Hunter Carlson from Douglas finished in 15th overall with 138 points and Chance Ames from Big Piney placed 17th overall with 130 points in the bareback riding average. 

For tie-down roping, Colton Kofoed from Bear River placed 19th in the overall event.  

In barrel racing, Pinedale’s Cassidy Williams took the overall 11th spot for the event. 

Buffalo’s Breanna Reimler gave it her all in pole bending and just missed the national title for the event by 0.031 seconds. Reimler placed sixth in the Short Round and second overall in the poles. 

In saddle bronc, Daniel cowboy Tanner Butner secured first place in the short round with a score of 80 and finished fifth overall in the event. Hillside’s Brody Cress finished his season in 17th with an average score of 73.

Steer wrestler Teigen Finnerty finished in fifth place overall in the event and is from Wheatland. During the Short Round, he placed fourth with a time of 5.46 seconds. Jackson’s Levi Wilson placed 16th in bull riding. 

The NHSFR will be in Rock Springs at the Sweetwater Events Complex for 2015. Next year will be the last year the NHSFR will be hosted there. 

Madeline Robinson is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Comments about this article can be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Douglas – This year’s Wyoming State Fair ranch rodeo competition will include heightened stakes, as the State Fair will now be the state finals for ranch rodeos held in the Cowboy State that choose to be affiliated.
In addition, the State Fair has partnered with the Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE) in Billings, Mont. and will send the top two Wyoming ranch rodeo teams to the finals in Montana in October 2010.
Although the event is still in the process of affiliating Wyoming’s local ranch rodeos, Ranch Rodeo Coordinator Larry Bentley of Thermopolis says a possible 10 are already on board, out of a goal of 12 qualifying rodeos.
“We’re getting close to that, and there’s some real interest in the state,” says Bentley, saying those already affiliated include four events in the Big Horn Basin, as well as one, and possibly two in Crook County. They’re in the process of contacting events in Lusk, Glendo, Glenrock and Newcastle.
“We’re working on it, and it’s coming together well,” says Bentley, adding the whole thing was kind of an accident. “It’s something I’ve been working on for a while, but on a much smaller basis.”
Bentley has been involved in the Thermopolis ranch rodeo on a contestant or organization basis for the last 20 years.
“I’ve wanted to put together a regional finals for a while, but didn’t have the vehicle to get it done,” he says. “I was up at the NILE last fall and talked to them about it a little bit, and we got to talking and this thing fell together last spring. One day it all came together.”
Wyoming State Fair Director James Goodrich is also involved in putting the event together, and he explains that those interested need to affiliate with the State Fair and adhere to a uniform set of guidelines to ensure consistency through the qualifying process.
Goodrich explains there are five events that will be held at the state finals – the same five held at the NILE finals – and that local ranch rodeos in the state need to include at least three of them in their competitions. The five events from which to choose are ranch bronc riding, wild cow milking, team trailering, team doctoring and team branding.
“We did that so if the local rodeo has some traditional events, they can still hold them and we’re not forcing them to include five new events,” says Goodrich.
Of the cost of affiliation, Goodrich says there are no up-front membership fees, just a $10-per-contestant fee included in the State Fair Ranch Rodeo entry fee for the winning team that qualifies and chooses to compete at the state level.
Goodrich says State Fair Ranch Rodeo prize winnings are yet to be determined, but he does know the purse will be 80 percent of entry fees given back in a jackpot. The stock contractor and other producer positions are also yet to be determined.
Bentley says he and Goodrich are considering bringing a judge from Montana to oversee the finals, to avoid conflicts of interest, and one of the judges at the Montana finals will be from Wyoming.         “The finals will pay to four places, and jackets will be given to the winning team and vests given to the reserve team, with cash awards going down through fourth place,” explains Goodrich, adding there will also be Top Hand and Top Horse awards.
For local ranch rodeos that may be interested in participating in the state finals, Goodrich says the cutoff for qualification in the 2010 state finals event is local events held more than six days prior to the finals, which are Aug. 15.
Affiliated rodeos must be held in the state of Wyoming, and all team members must be legal residents of Wyoming. Also, qualifying rodeos must have been held within the 2010 calendar year for this first event. If the event has already come and gone this year, the rodeo can qualify as long as they held three of the five qualifying events.
“We’re working on it still, but James and I are both pleased with how it’s coming together,” says Bentley. “If anyone’s interested, they can contact me and I’ll send them a copy of the rules and talk about the qualifications and how this will work.”
“I think this is an up and coming thing,” adds Bentley, speaking of local-level ranch rodeos. “Even though people love to go see professional cowboys compete in PRCA rodeos, we don’t have many of those rodeos because we don’t have the purses for the big names. Ranch rodeo has local teams, and now they have a chance to go to a finals, and our top two teams in the state get to go compete in Montana at the NILE, and to me that’s pretty exciting.”
For more information on the ranch rodeo state finals, contact Larry Bentley at 307-867-2555 or 307-921-9665, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..