One of the hottest topics buzzing in the world of rodeo–and the entire nation–is the price of fuel. Gearing up for the Fourth of July run, contestants are wondering if prize money can get them from A to B.
The average price of diesel in America in 2021 was $3.29. As of June 4, 2022, the average cost of diesel nationwide is $5.63.
Brenten Hall, a three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, says that he and his traveling partners are being more choosy about which rodeos to enter, recently opting out of West of the Pecos in Pecos, Texas and Prescott Frontier Days.
“We’re looking at it trying to be a little more diligent,” said Hall.
They looked at flying as another option for travel, but it pencils to the same high cost. The PRCA entering system, ProCom, may dictate the fate of checkbooks, Hall says.
“Your costs are cut down a lot if your card is hitting good and you’re getting up at rodeos the way you want. If you’re getting popped at rodeos, you’re having to trade and drive a lot more and that’s what kills you the most,” said Hall.
Hall and his team roping partner, Chase Tryan, plan to also buddy with Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill over the Fourth Run. Many are seeking more traveling partners than usual in order to share costs.
Sponsors, especially in a year like 2022, can make or break a rodeo cowboy or cowgirl. Hall says, “They really are the backbone of this industry […] I have some really good sponsors and I thank God for them every day. Without those guys, it would be really tough.”
While many professional rodeo athletes may try to find a side income this summer, Hall has been busy building a place from the ground up in Stephenville, Texas. He is engaged to Shayla Howell and the couple will be married on September 30, 2022. Starting out as a young couple is intimidating, but Hall knows that the ability to succeed lies within himself in his chosen career.
“I think I just have to have a grittier attitude towards rodeo. I feel like I’m pretty humble, and I’ve never wanted to be different than that.” said Hall, “I’ve been trying to have more of a confident mindset with myself, not on the outside but on the inside.”
Of course, the answer to making money while rodeoing is quite simple.
“You just gotta win. If you’re winning, you’re okay. The rodeos still pay pretty good. They don’t pay any more than they were, but they still pay enough to cover the cost if you’re doing good,” Hall says.
But what about the contestants that are not yet competing for the same size purse? Breakaway roping, though still surging in popularity since “The Year of Breakaway” in 2019, is still waiting for equal payout at all rodeos.
Taylor Engesser, who currently sits inside the top 15 in the world, says, “As tough as it is that breakaway is not equal added money everywhere, it’s kind of unrealistic to expect that it should be like that everywhere because we are the newest event in ProRodeo.”
She says the knowledge of the payouts ought to lead to strategic decisions on which rodeos to enter. Engesser is thankful for the opportunity to rope at ProRodeos, and says that gratitude and patience are keys to achieving some long-awaited goals for breakaway roping.
“It’s a process and not something that happens overnight. We need to have patience, have goals, better communication between the WPRA and the PRCA,” said Engesser.
Engesser says she rodeos because she loves it, not because she wants to make a living from it. The nurse from Spearfish, South Dakota takes on temporary nursing jobs in Arizona and Texas while wintering down south, and is able to come back home in the summer to rodeo, picking up shifts at her local hospital whenever fits her schedule.
“With fuel prices being the way they are, I just think it’s going to make you be a little more picky, enjoy the process, and to step up and make the best runs you can at every rodeo you go to, and hope it all works out,” Engesser says.
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