Matt Bright lost his cowboy hat midway through his ride on Cougar Mountain, and as the hat started to fall to the ground, the black stallion sent it right back into the air with his hind legs.
The straw hat took a beating, but Bright ended up with a score of 84 and the bareback title Saturday on the final night of the 64th annual Horse Heaven Round-Up.
“This is the first check I have ever won at this rodeo,” said Bright, making his fifth trip to the HHRU. “That horse was out in the pasture for seven or eight months (for stud purposes), and they just brought him back. They have been winning money on him ever since.”
Bright, from Azle, Texas, knocked rookie Austin Foss (83 points) out of the top spot. Foss, in the running for rookie of the year with Richie Champion, got no pity from Bright.
“Richie and I traveled together all winter,” Bright said. “I have a soft spot for him.”
In the saddle bronc, Brad Rudolf of Winnemucca, Nev., scored an 86 on a bay mare named Kool Toddy to surpass Cody DeMoss’ score of 84 from Thursday.
“That is an amazing horse,” Rudolf said. “She’s been around a while, and you want to get on her. This is my seventh time here, and it’s my first win. Cody has been winning plenty. I was due.”
In bull riding, Zach Bright of Ephrata led with a 74, but no one came close to matching Shane Proctor’s score of 89 from Friday night. Proctor now has won three consecutive bull riding titles at the HHRU.
Cheney barrel racer Pamela Capper’s time of 17.34 seconds Wednesday night held up as the top run in the event. Saturday’s best run of 17.86 seconds was turned in by Sherry Cervi of Marana, Ariz.
The timed event cowboys had a tough go of things Saturday. Only four tie-down ropers posted a time, and no one was under 10 seconds.
The team ropers struggled as well, with the top time of 12.3 coming from Travis Tryan and Jake Long. Benton City cowboy Bucky Campbell and his partner, David Key of Caldwell, Texas, won the average with a time of 10.5 seconds on two runs.
In steer wrestling, where timing is everything, Luke Branquinho had a 3.7-second run, and Kyle Whitaker was at 3.9. There were two other times turned in, but there were eight men who failed to hook both horns and turn their steers.
Horse Heaven Round-Up Champions
Bareback -- Matt Bright, Azle, Texas, 84 points. Tie-down roping -- First go: Jake Hannum, Ogden, Utah, 7.5 seconds. Second go: Blair Burk, Durant, Okla., 7.7. Average on 2: Hannum, 17.9. Steer wrestling -- First go: Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore., 3.5. Second go: Tyler Waguespack, Gonzales, La., and Casey Martin, Sulphur, La., 3.5. Average on 2: Martin, 7.2. Saddle bronc -- Brad Rudolf, Winnemucca, Nev., 86. Team roping -- First go: Trevor Brazile, Decatur, Texas, and Patrick Smith, Lipan, Texas, 5.0. Second go: Derrick Begay, Seba Delkai, Ariz., and Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., 4.4. Average on 2: David Key, Caldwell, Texas, and Bucky Campbell, Benton City, 10.5. Barrel racing -- Pamela Capper, Cheney, 17.34. Bull riding -- Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, 89.