Extreme Bronc Riding

by | Oct 10, 2022 | Rodeo

Brody Wells, Powell, WY, on Calgary’s Epic Margarity 81.5 Points Go 2 [Photo: submitted]

The Lake Sakakawea waters may have been brisk this past October 7-8 weekend, however the moonlight was vivid and so were the iconic bronc riders that decorated Four Bears Events Center in New Town, N.D.

The Present—

The Brad Gjermundson Extreme Bronc Riding Event is one of North Dakota’s biggest saddle bronc riding events in record. Original Rodeo, LLC is a group of four cowboys with proven histories in the rodeo industry including Gjermundson, himself.

Two-thousand spectators and fans came from near and far to witness the lineup of elite saddle bronc horses — stemming from decades of genetics, blood, sweat, and tears producing some of the rankest, yet stunning animals known to cowboys across the land. Aboard their backs were legendary names such as the Wrights, Sundell, and Thurston.

Brody Wells, of Powell, Wyoming, rode for a total 260 points on three head to a paycheck of $9,669. The cowboy marked a 90-point ride in the short go aboard J Bar J’s Straight Moonshine. Isaac Diaz and Zeke Thurston split 2nd in the average bringing home $5,157 each.

Elite Competitors Born to Rodeo [Photo: submitted]

The Brad Gjermudnson Extreme Broncs was the first stop on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) calendar for the 2023 season. Darrel and Joanne Quale paid the entry fees for the top thirty cowboys in the world as an extra support and promotion for a sport they adore.

The motivation stemming from such an event brought veteran legends to Ft. Berthold, such as Cody Wright, 13-time NFR qualifier and 2-time World Champion to watch his boys, Rusty, Ryder, and Stetson, all compete for the $80,000 added purse.

“It’s always good to come up here to North Dakota, and they always have a good rodeo to come to. It’s a place you always want to get to a couple times a year,” said 8-time NFR qualifier Wade Sundell.

“From the top end to the bottom end, the producers of bucking horses have done a phenomenal job with these breeding programs and made their horses better in my opinion. Back in the day, they had just as good of horses, but they were limited. Now these guys are going to five rodeos a week and they will draw at least three good horses. Bigger, stouter horses, day in and day out are being produced. Those odds, significantly help our industry,” were Cody Wright’s thoughts.

“An event like this in New Town is great. I get to come up and see my in-laws. I’ve been here once before in 2019. It has great stock, and the added money makes it worth the trip,” explained Isaac Diaz, Desdemona, Texas, 7-time NFR qualifier.

“It was my first time up to this match, last year it overlapped a college rodeo. It was awesome. The first go round, I drew Muddy Creek’s Disco Inferno and was excited. I knew that gave me a chance and ended up 88.5. The second round was on of Calgary’s young one, Epic Margarita, and that went well. And Straight Moonshine out of J Bar J Rodeo was just awesome to draw in the short-go,” said Brody Wells.

Wells added that the set was up awesome. Having the different horses in each round and the final round being NFR horses and most that will eventually go, was the icing on the cake. Winning the money and two pairs of spurs and a bronze sculpture was also something the young cowboy was grateful for.

Advice for up and coming bronc riders from Wells, “Best thing to do in your early start of bronc riding is to get around guys you want to ride like. Also, get a coach and quality help from the start. It is important to get on good horses consistently and the spur board bucking machine as much as possible.”

Wells has had so many people and guidance from other riders that the list is huge, but Tyrell Smith of Montana and Bret Franks of Oklahoma are a few he mentioned that really helped him develope his bronc riding.

Wells is surely aiming on getting to the NFR this year (2023). In the meantime, he said that he will continue to have a blast riding broncs, win some money, and travel the country with his bronc riding crew.

The Future—

Ultimately, the world needs more bronc riding mentality. “We need more education and awareness on the mental aspect and positivity that comes with bronc riding. The skill and mindset that anyone (not just the youth learning how to ride broncs) can gain from listening or taking part in a bronc riding school,” said Gjermundson.

“Encouraging the next generation by having schools and stock that the kids can get on and learn something. They need to be on horses that they can learn skills on and not hurt them to build them up. They need horses that can encourage the kids right off the bat. Each generation has evolved, and we aren’t doing things like we used to. They used to load wagons with hay, now machines do that. Horses were trained differently, everything has changed and evolved so the way we teach and encourage needs to adjust with that thought,” added Wright on the next generation of saddle bronc riders.

The breeding and training program at J Bar J rodeo in Circle, Montana is tried and true, but it’s a job, year-round. Sparky Dreesen of J Bar J Rodeo Company explained that just before their colts are two years old, they saddle them for a seven-day week and let them spend time saddled, getting adapted to it. They grain them in a pen, directly behind the bucking chutes while in the training phase. An electric dummy is attached to the saddle in their primitive rides out of the chute to allow them to get used to a rider.

Sparky Dreesen of J Bar J Pro Rodeo Company, Circle, MT and Sylvn Lacross, Miles City, MT [Photo: submitted]

The colts’ three-year-old year is much the same process. However the dummy stays on a little longer. By the time the young broncs are four, the saddle and dummy stay on for eight seconds, then the flank strap is gradually increased in precise timing intervals. They are also trained in the stripping chute to take off the flank strap.

Dreesen further explained that by the spring of their four-year-old year, most of their colts have been bucked three times, five-year-old year — they are bucked three to four times and at six years old, it is eight times. If a horse shows NFR quality, which like competitors, some get to make it to the big show, and some don’t. Between eight and ten years old, as they mature, these horses get bucked about 8 times a year, and that’s it.

Another part of the future is support. Through the generosity of Original Rodeo, LLC’s sponsors, they have been able to provide financial contributions to Home On the Range, the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame for the past two years and additionally this year, the North Dakota High School and Junior High Rodeo Associations.

The Mindset—

“There’s definitely ups and downs, every day you go to win, and it doesn’t seem like that happens every time, so you just ‘chuck’ the bad days. Don’t worry about yesterday, because today is a new day. Every day you wake up is a new day, and every day you wake up to do the best at whatever you’re doing, riding broncs, whatever you have drawn, make the best of it. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. Keep learning how to break walls, sometimes they are made from bricks and sometimes marshmallows, but you keep pushing through,” added veteran Cody Wright.

Sage Newman, Melstone, MT, on Dynamite Delight Calgary Stampede for 88.5 Points [Photo: submitted]

As far as Sundell’s winning approach, “I just go for broke every time. If you want to win first, you must let it all hang out. Go with that and hope everything falls into place,” smiled the cowboy.

Isaac Diaz has been in the arena and chopping broncs for 17 years. “When you get to be my age, you want to say your mindset starts at a certain level and keeps rising, but quite honestly, there has been some roller coaster rides with the mental part. You really have to enter where you’re driven to go to. If I’m not excited about getting on certain contractor’s horses, the drive isn’t there to go. I’ve prioritized with a family and go where I’m motivated to go nowadays.”

Diaz’s next best day job and career is training young horses with his wife, Brittany (Fleck) Diaz, whom is an NFR barrel racer that was raised in North Dakota. The duo has two children and a performance horse breeding program and starts colts at their place in Desdomona, Texas.

The Past—

There isn’t a future without the past.

“I always wanted to be a bronc rider, but I wanted to be an all-around cowboy riding bareback, broncs and bulls, I pro rodeoed in all those events in the Wilderness circuit. I went to college and had a family and narrowed down to bronc riding. I thought I could do that the longest and it would be the easiest on my body for longevity versus the other events,” said Wright.

“Riding through the storms that life and rodeo gives us, you just can’t quit. Having a foundation and learning to be prepared and being able to step up when given an opportunity is what we’d like to encourage people from all walks of life,” was Gjermundson’s affirmative message.

And the future generation is benefitting from past riders like Gjermundson and Wright in many ways. With their positive mindset, schools, and events like this, the classic sport of saddle bronc riding is living on.

For a complete list of results, visit: www.prorodeo.com.

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