Cowboy Christmas, centered around the 4th of July, gives plenty of cowboys and cowgirls a chance to shake up the world standings and to bolster their earnings on the way to the top 15 in the PRCA standings.
Nowhere was this more evident than among the barrel racers. While Jordan Briggs maintained her lead in the event, earning $18,465 over Cowboy Christmas, Wanda Johnson was able to move up a spot from third to second place. Stevie Hillman also moved a spot, from seventh to sixth place. Shelley Morgan padded her earnings by $20, 868 and moved from 13th to 9th place. The big move, however, was by Bayleigh Choate. Her winnings, $26,267 jumped her all the way from 12th to 5th in the standings.
Other women whose holiday earnings moved them into the top 20-barrel racers include Paige Jones, 14th; Kylie Scriber, 15th; Taycie Matthews, 17th; Leslie Smalygo, 18th; and Lisa Lockhart, 19th place.
A few of the biggest rodeo payouts over the Fourth include the Cody Stampede, Cody, Wyoming; Livingston Roundup Rodeo, Livingston, Montana, and Mandan Rodeo Days, Mandan, North Dakota. Bareback bronc rider Cole Reiner saw a first-place win at Cody, earning $8,460. He was the leading money earner in this event on July 6, with $92,598.
Saddle bronc rider Brody Cress took second at Livingston, adding $3,805 to his winnings. He was third in the PRCA standings after the Cowboy Christmas run, with total earnings of $113,679. Sage Newman was in the top spot with $167,015, followed by Stetson Wright at $124,904. The Livingston winner was Dylan Schofield, earning $4,963.
Cress and his travel partners, Lefty Holeman, Wyatt Casper, and Jake Clark went to Panoka, Alberta, Canada; Oakley, Utah; Livingston and Red Lodge, Montana; and Cody, Wyoming for their Cowboy Christmas Run. Cress said Cowboy Christmas was a little slower this year than usual. He did not always get a good draw, but said he “can’t complain” about his run. Cress said Panoka is one of his favorite summer rodeos. “They do a great job there, they bring in good horses, and Canada loves rodeo!”
A couple of cowboys managed to hang on to their leads, despite injuries that kept them away from the Fourth of July run. Jess Pope, bareback bronc rider suffered a right foot sprain and tore his Plantar Fascia in two places when the bronc Grease Monkey stumbled and fell, rolling over Pope on July 1. He hopes to be back in action by August 1. Meanwhile, he is watching and coaching his younger brother Ty via The Cowboy Channel and phone as he begins his professional bronc riding career.
Team roping header Clay Smith broke both bones in his lower leg in a barrier-related accident at Prescott on June 28. He missed Cowboy Christmas but was back in action at the Central Wyoming Rodeo in mid-July. He and Jake Long had a time of 5.2 on their steer.
Stetson Wright has been riding with a broken wrist. He finally decided to have it looked at following the Greeley Stampede. Since then, he has increased his All-Around lead to $266,801.
Some of the biggest payouts are available to contestants not only during Cowboy Christmas but all throughout the month of July. Cress and his partners are chasing that money.
The men are coming off of the Calgary Stampede, and will be going to Nampa, Idaho; Spanish Fork, Utah; Salinas, California; Cheyenne; Deadwood, South Dakota; Pollockville, Alberta, and Bismarck, North Dakota next. Despite the misfortune of his truck breaking down in Calgary, Cress said he won around $15,000 there. He did not make it back to the final four.
With some big rodeos still coming, the standings will probably keep changing throughout the rest of the summer.
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