Zeke Thurston Wins Second Straight World Title and NFR Average Title

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All roads have lead back to Zeke Thurston in the saddle bronc riding the last two years.

For the second straight season, the Canadian cowboy is the World Champion and NFR Average Champion, this time doing so with $456,356 and 863 points and 10. He broke his own single season earnings record of $399,916 set in 2022.

“It’s just proof that hard work and dedication can make your dreams come true,” Thurston said. “I figured I’d win my fair share, it’s all I’ve ever dreamed of doing my entire life.

Thuston entered the NFR No. 4 and about $30,000 behind Stetson Wright, who as bucked off his first two horses and then out the rest of the NFR due to injury.

Thurston was quick to capitalize by winning Round 1 with an 86.5-point ride on Legacy Pro Rodeo’s Vein Reflections and then splitting third in Round 2 with 85 points on Burban.

He won a total of four rounds at the NFR, the highest marked of them being a 91-pointer on Calgary’s Xplosive Skies, it was also the only 90+ point saddle bronc ride of the rodeo.

In the last two seasons, Thurston has made a combined $856,272 and became the first saddle bronc rider ever to win consecutive Gold Buckles and NFR Average crowns.

Since 2016, Thurston has four World Titles and three NFR Average titles. His four Gold Buckles ties him for third all time with Brad Gjermundson, Clint Johnson and Pete Knight. Only Dan Mortensen, Casey Tibbs and Billy Etbauer have more.

“I’ve always wanted to be remembered as one of the best to play the game, I think we’ve done that,” he said. “They get sweeter and sweeter each time, there’s lots of people that win one or two, but not very many people get more than three. It’s a big deal for me.”