Monday Notebook: Cowboy Christmas Edition

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Cowboy Christmas can make or break NFR runs and this year, the jaunt from the Greeley Stampede through the 4th of July paid out more than $4 million in total.

That means there is plenty to catch up on this week’s Monday Notebook.

  • No. 1 saddle bronc rider Sage Newman won four rodeos that concluded on July 4. Newman was the champion of the Cody Stampede (Wyoming), Western Stampede (Utah), Black Hills Roundup (South Dakota) and Mandan Rodeo Days (North Dakota). All four those rides were 87 points or better and all four wins paid more than $3,800 with Cody being the highest at $9,700. Newman has opened up a lead of $25,000 of World No. 2 Stetson Wright.
  • Steer wrestler Dirk Tavenner went from outside Top 50 into NFR contention. The two-time NFR qualifier showed just how much Cowboy Christmas can mean as he is now No. 16 in the PRCA World Standings. Tavenner rocketed up the standings by winning the St. Paul Rodeo (Oregon) and taking third in the Average at the Greeley Stampede (Colorado). Those two rodeos alone combined to pay him more than $20,000.
  • Bareback rider Keenan Hayes won about $30,000. The No. 1 man in the world extended his lead on rest of the bareback riding field by winning a rodeo, finishing second at three others and third at another over Cowboy Christmas. Hayes banked five checks worth more than $3,000 that week. Hayes has made $166,100 this season and only Leighton Berry ($129,900) has also made six figures in the bareback riding.
  • Barrel racer Emily Beisel won the Ponoka Stampede for the second time in as many appearances. Beisel returned to Ponoka for the first time since 2019 and left the champion once again. This year, she was 17.280 in the Showdown. Beisel was the winningest barrel racer in the world over Cowboy Christmas and she is ranked No. 5 in the WPRA World Standings.
  • Alberta natives swept the rough stock events in Ponoka. The Canadians defended home turf with Orin Larsen winning the bareback riding with 90.50 points, Zeke Thurston winning the bronc riding with 92.50 and Nick Tetz claiming the bull riding with 88.50.
  • Saddle bronc rider Stu Wright moved up 15 spots in the PRCA World Standings and set an arena record along the way. The rookie Wright went from No. 37 to No. 22 in the PRCA World Standings and now sits $11,000 out of an NFR spot. Wright got it done by pulling five checks over Cowboy Christmas, most notably his 91.5-point ride in St. Paul, the highest in the rodeo’s 87-year history.
  • No. 1 barrel racer Jordon Briggs continued to thrive despite low rodeo count. Jordon Briggs is closing in on $100,000 and leads the WPRA World Standings by more than $25,000. She has been to just 12 rodeos this year and after winning Greeley, she clearly stated her intentions - she was going to hit her 25 rodeos and get home by her daughter’s first day of school on Aug. 10. There’s a good chance she still enters the NFR in the Top 5.
  • There were seven PRCA Playoff Series Rodeo that concluded on July 4. That is by far the most on a single day this season and make up for more than 20 percent of the Playoff Series Rodeos so far this year. Those seven rodeos were the Cody Stampede (Cody, Wyoming), St. Paul Rodeo (St. Paul, Oregon), World’s Oldest Rodeo (Prescott, Arizona), Oakley Independence Day Rodeo (Oakley City, Utah), Black Hills Roundup (Belle Fourche, South Dakota), Home of Champions Rodeo (Red Lodge, Montana) and the Livingston Roundup Rodeo (Livingston, Montana).
  • 35 rodeos in 17 states and two provinces makeup Cowboy Christmas. The PRCA Playoff Series Rodeos are from the only ones that make Cowboy Christmas the spectacle it is. Whether it’s in Canada or the U.S., there’s plenty of places for money to be earned.