Half the score comes from the rider and half the score comes from the animal in rodeo livestock competition.
When the right rider and the right livestock come together, scoreboards explode.
“Wow, that was a lot of horse,” said Caleb Bennett after his eight-second ride aboard a bareback horse named Gun Fire.
Together, they set off some fireworks at Stampede Park on July 4, when the judges awarded them 93.5 points.
Bennett, 30, of Corvallis, Mont., and a seven-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, recorded the ride of his life in stunning fashion to establish a new arena record.
Most unexpectedly, the score eclipsed the two-day-old record set by Oris Larsen of Inglis, Manitoba, who scored 93 points on Make Up Face and had to think he had the Cody title sewed up when he left for other rodeos.
This series of events demonstrated once again that when a rodeo is spread over four days and cowboys get only one shot at a score, anything goes.
Much of the magical, crowd-captivating and electrifying moments of the 100th anniversary celebration of the $400,000 Cody Stampede revolved around bareback riding.
Bull riding was a highlight, with Parker Breding of Edgar, Mont. putting up a 92.5-point ride and Stetson Wright of Milford, Utah challenging him with a 92.
But for sheer depth of performance to please the thousands of fans that turned out each night, it was difficult to best bareback.
The only thing that marred several days of rodeo and ancillary festivities from June 30 through July 4 was a harsh thunderstorm outbreak near the conclusion of rodeo July 3.
Otherwise, Xtreme Bulls and Bullfighters Only, four complete daily rodeos, the introduction of new entertainment at the Pepsi Plaza near the front gate, and the lengthy but well-attended holiday parades, went off smoothly.
Announcer Boyd Polhamus, who has become a Cody regular with his on-horseback public address commentary, and clown Troy Lerwill, provided information and laughs, each a little of both.
As it always does, the largest one-header rodeo attracted the stars of rodeo, current and former world champions, the hottest names and those with long reputations.
Bennett won nearly $10,000 for his bareback performance.
Clayton Hass of Weatherford, Texas, captured steer wrestling in 3.8 seconds. Lane Ivy of Dublin, Texas, and Cesar de la Cruz, of Tucson, Ariz., took team roping in 4.5 seconds.
There was a first-place tie in saddle bronc between Dawson Hay of Wildwood, Alberta and Jake Wright of Milford, Utah, each with 89.5 points.
Reese Riemer of Stinnet, Texas, grabbed the tie-down roping crown in 8.2 seconds. Carly Taylor of Andersonville, Tenn. won barrel racing in 17.04 seconds.
Breding won bulls and conquered a good field that included three rides in the 90s and 87 earning only a four-way tie for seventh.
Lon Danley of Tularosa, N.M., was sixth with an 87.5. He cut back on his holiday rodeos because of an aching body, but still came to Cody.
“I picked the best one,” Danley said. “I’ve just been going hard. I thought I would be smart about it. I had to pick and choose.”
Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, the winningest rodeo cowboy of all time with 24 world championships and nearly $7 million in prize money, may have made his final Cody appearance as he gradually eases into retirement. Brazile finished third in tie-down roping in one nightly round.
While bareback turned into the headliner event, saddle bronc was not far behind. There were seven rides of 85 or higher.
“Oh yeah,” Wright said of liking his score.
A lot of bareback riders liked their scores.
Bennett edged Larsen, but others were in the hunt. Clayton Biglow of Clements, Calif. scored 92 points. Ty Fast Taypotat of Regina, Saskatchewan recorded a 90.5 and the top seven topped 86.
Tanner Aus of Granite Falls, Minn., could place only sixth with an 88.
Like so many cowboys over the bunched-together July 4 rodeos collectively known as Cowboy Christmas, he was almost dizzy from his travels, visiting a town for just a few hours and then moving on.
Aus said he entered a restaurant, mouth watering in anticipation of Taco Tuesday. But when he ordered the Tuesday special, the waiter informed him, “It’s Wednesday.”
Aus was one of several cowboys who said more good bareback riders have been emerging recently.
“A lot of really good talent is coming up,” Aus said. “The field of competition is tough. It’s crazy tough.”
Biglow, who hit 92 and could only get third, drew a horse named Full Baggage, a bronc highly lauded by Polhamus.
“There aren’t five horses in the world as special as this one,” he said.
When Biglow dismounted it felt as if he hit a jackpot. He sent his hat spinning through the air.
“What a great ride by that horse!” Biglow said. “I didn’t know (what the score would be). I was just focused on getting out of there safely. And sure enough, they gave me a bunch of points.”
Almost as many, but not quite as many as Bennett.
“That horse was strong,” Bennett said of Gun Fire. “He was bucking around in circles. He was everything a guy could want.”
Larsen thought the same of his horse.
“I’ll take that half a point,” Bennett said of the tiny margin that put his name in the Cody record book.
100th Anniversary Cody Stampede Rodeo Final Results
Bareback Riding: 1, Caleb Bennett, Corvallis, Mont., 93.5 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Gun Fire, $9,842.* 2, Orin Larsen, Inglis, Manitoba, 93, $7,545. 3, Clayton Biglow, Clements, Calif., 92, $5,577. 4, Ty Fast Taypotat, Regina, Saskatchewan, 90.5, $3,609. 5, Zach Hibler, Wheeler, Texas, 88.5, $2,296. 6, Tanner Aus, Granite Falls, Minn., 88, $1,650. 7, Will Lowe, Canyon, Texas, 86.5, $2,423. 8, Taylor Broussard, Estherwood, La., 85, $984.
Steer Wrestling: 1, Clayton Hass, Weatherford, Texas, 3.8 seconds, $8,528. 2, Logan McDonald, Hemingford, Neb., 3.9, $7,631. 3, (tie) Will Lummus, West Point, Miss.; J.D. Struxness, Milan, Minn.; and Jake Fulton, Valentine, Neb., 8,528. 4.0 and $5,835 each. 6, Sam Goings, Fallon, Nev., 4.3, $4,040. 7, (tie) Stetson Jorgensen, Blackfoot, Idaho, and Cody Cabral, Hilo, Hawaii, 4.4, $2,693. 9, Bridger, Chambers, Stevensville, Mont., 4.5, $1,346. 10, (tie) Brendan Laye, Consort, Alberta; Dru Melvin, Hebron, Neb.; Jon Laine Herl, Goodland, Kan.; Trevor Knowles, Mount Vernon, Ore.; and Jule Hazen, Ashland, Kan.; 4.6, $90.
Team Roping: 1, Lane Ivy, Dublin, Texas, and Cesar de la Cruz, Tucson, Ariz., 4.5 seconds, $10,211. 2, (tie) Brooks Dahozy, Window Rock, Ariz., and Walt Woodard, Stephenville, Texas; and Clay Smith, Broken Bow, Okla., and Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev.; 4.8 and $8,599 each. 4, (tie) Cory Kidd V, Statesville, N.C., and Kory Koontz, Stephenville, Texas; Riley and Brady Minor, Ellensburg, Wash.; Steven Duby, Hereford, Ore., and Jason Duby, Klamath Falls, Ore.; and Kolton Schmidt, Barrhead, Alberta and Jeremy Buhler, Arrowood, Alberta; 5.0 and $5,374. 8, (tie) Aaron Macy, Post, Texas, and Dillon Wingereid, Stephenville, Texas; Paul David Tierney, Oklahoma City, Okla., and Tanner Braden, Dewey, Okla.; and Kaleb Driggers, Hoboken, Ga., and Junior Nogueira, Presidente Prudente, Brazil; 5.2, $1,612.
Saddle Bronc Riding: 1/2, Dawson Hay, Wildwood, Alberta, on Mo Betta Rodeo’s Sue City Sue and Jake Wright, Milford, Utah, on Frontier Rodeo’s Big News, 89.5 points and $7,324 each. 3, Cort Scheer, Elsmere, Neb., 88.5, $4,698. 4, Chase Brooks, Deer Lodge, Mont., 87.5, $3,040. 5, (tie) Colt Gordon, Comanche, Okla., and Rusty Wright, Milford, Utah, 85.5, $1,658. 7, Mitch Pollock, Winnemucca, Nev., 85, $1,105. 8, Kolby Wanchuk, Sherwood Park, Alberta, 84.5, $829.
Tie-down Roping: 1, Reese Riemer, Stinett, Texas, 8.2 seconds, $9,912. 2, Justin Smith, Leesville, La., 8.3, $8,869. 3, Tyson Durfey, Brock, Texas, 8.8, $7,826. 4, Tyler Prcin, Alvord, Texas, 9.3, $6,782. 5, Cade Swor, Winnie, Texas, 9.4, $5,739. 6, Joey Dickens, Loveland, Colo., 9.7, $4,695. 7, Seth Cooke, Millsap, Texas, 9.8, $3,652. 8, Cody McCartney, Ottawa, Lake, Minn., 10.1, $2,609. 9, (tie) Riley Pruitt, Gering, Neb., and Ty Harris, San Angelo, Texas, 10.3 and $1,043 each.
Barrel Racing: 1, Carly Taylor, Andersonville, Tenn., 17.04 seconds, $20,829. 3, Sabra O’Quinn, Ocala, Fla., 17.07, $8,656. 3, Ivy Conrado, Nowata, Okla., 17.10, $7,033. 4, Ryann Pedone, Decatur, Texas, 17.12, $5,410. 5, Jessie Telford, Caldwell, Idaho, 17.15. $4,328. 6, Dona Kay Rule, Minco, Okla., 17.19, $3,246. 7, Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Victoria, Texas, 17.22, $2,705. 8, Jessica Routier, Buffalo, S.D., 17.24, $2,434. 9, (tie) Jenna Smeenk, Arlington, Texas; Stevi Hillman, Weatherford, Texas; and Halyn Lide, Stephenville, Texas, 17.28, $1,893 each. 12, Sara Cheeney, Pinedale, 17.30, $1,352. 13, Cassidy Carpenter, Odonnell, Texas, 17.31, $1,082. 14, Sue Smith, Blackfoot, Idaho, 17.32, $811. 15, Ashley Castleberry, Montgomery, Texas, 17.33, $541.
Bull Riding: 1, Parker Breding, Edgar, Mont., 92.5 points on Summit Pro Rodeo’s Turnabout, $8,657. 2, Stetson Wright, Milford, Utah, 92, $6,637. 3, Tristan Mize, Bryan, Texas, 90.5, $4,906. 4, (tie) Koby Radley, Holden, La., and Garrett Smith, Rigby, Idaho, 89.5 and $2,597 each. 6, Lon Danley, Tularosa, N.M., 87.6, $1,443. 7, (tie) Jordan Spears, Redding, Calif.; Josh Frost, Randlett, Utah; Braden Richardson, Jasper, Texas; and Sage Kimzey, Strong City, Okla., 87, $505.
*New arena record