Wilder Days

Photo by matt cohen / cowboy journal

Photo by matt cohen / cowboy journal

The Wild Ride at the Red Bluff Round-Up is the kind of deal where everybody lets their hair down and has some fun. You never know what you’re gonna get. Louie Brunson breaks it down.


As a saddle bronc rider, I grew up hearing about the Wild Ride at the Red Bluff Round-Up in Northern California. The Wild Ride is the kind of deal where everybody lets their hair down and has some fun. You never know what you’re gonna get. It’s fun to watch, fun to be a part of. The crowd loves it.

The Wild Ride happens on Sunday. It’s the last event of the rodeo. They take around twelve saddle bronc riders. Usually it’s guys that have been hanging around the beer stand too long.

I’m not real clear on the rules. You’re supposed to dress up in some kind of costume or do something you normally wouldn’t do while riding. The wilder the better. You have to mark the horse out and make a ride, but the judging is a little different. It’s kind of a cross between saddle bronc and a Halloween contest. They judge you on your costume and your dramatic flair.

They bring a bunch of horses that are good for doing crazy stuff on. They can be unpredictable. I guess the riders are unpredictable, too. If you’ve got somebody in a dinosaur costume flopping on top of you, it’s going to feel a little different.

Photo by Matt Cohen

Photo by Matt Cohen

Wild Stories

The Wild Ride has generated some wild stories. One year, Joe Lufkin—Little Joe the Wrangler—dressed up as Elsa from the movie Frozen and won the Wild Ride. His ride was probably good enough to have won the rodeo, too. That was pretty cool.

Another year one of the pickup men, Jeff Shearer, an old bronc rider, jumped off his pickup horse and onto the bronc and rode the bronc around the arena. I guess you’d say he was dressed up as a pickup man.

Taos Muncy broke his leg in the Wild Ride. I believe it was the year after he won the World Championship.

Ty Manke is known for drinking beer during his ride. I think the first time he used a bottle and chipped his tooth. After that, he learned to use a beer can instead of a bottle. I’ve never tried riding with a beer in my hand. No, the beer has always been in my belly.  

Another bronc rider dressed up like Elvis got chased around the grounds by security for being drunk and disorderly. He ended up jumping on a bronc in the Wild Ride. As soon as he got off, the police escorted him out of the arena.

Photo by Matt Cohen

Photo by Matt Cohen

Photo by Matt Cohen

Photo by Matt Cohen

My Wild Years

I think the first year I entered the Wild Ride was in 2010. I dressed up as a combination of Richard Simmons and John Growney from the Growney Brothers Rodeo Company. I wore short-shorts, a tank-top shirt and a big curly wig that I picked up at Walmart. And I wore a big nametag that said “John Growney.” My buddy Jamie Willert was feeding me Coors Lights to make sure I didn’t chicken out. I didn’t win. I think I stayed on. That was about it. But I had a great time.

Photo by Matt Cohen

Photo by Matt Cohen

I entered the Wild Ride a few different times after that. Once, I was up at the rodeo on Saturday, but I stuck around for the Wild Ride on Sunday. I dressed up like the Burger King in a mask and crown and drank beer all day in my outfit. Man, it was hot. Bareback rider Tilden Hooper had to help me on my horse that day. That might have been drunkest I’ve ever gotten on anything. I hardly made it past the chute gate before bucking off. I lit like a sack of potatoes. It hurt so bad, but all the crowd could see was the smile on that Burger King mask. Tilden got a chuckle out of that.

Another year I was Gru from the Despicable Me movies.

My best Wild Ride, by far, was when I dressed up as Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty. Some girls had the costume in the back of their car. I hadn’t planned to enter, but somebody talked me into it. It may have been Matt Cohen, who took the photo of me (above) in bib overalls, gray beard and wig and holding a toy shotgun. The girls had some duck decoys. We found some twine and tied a couple ducks to the back of the saddle and one to the barrel of the gun.

I only had a couple beers that day and had a decent ride. The judges liked my costume. I thought I might even win. They give the winner of the Wild Ride an awesome saddle and a couple thousand dollars. But I finished second. Cort Scheer beat me. He dressed up as himself. A princess.


Young Man’s Game

Red Bluff is one of my favorite rodeos. The very first time I went, back in 2008, I won the rodeo. I was in college then and took home close to seventy-five hundred dollars. I doubt I had seven hundred in my checking account before then.

Red Bluff has always kind of been my honey hole. Seems like I usually get a good check out there. But I’m getting older, getting more responsibilities. I’ve got two kids and a wife, and I’m a rancher, too, so I stay closer to home in New Underwood, South Dakota. I couldn’t make it to Red Bluff at all this year. It’s the first time in eleven years that I haven’t entered. It’s kind of sad, I guess.

I used to try to enter on Sunday so I could be part of the Wild Ride. Now that I’m up there in age, I try not to enter on Sunday so I can avoid the Wild Ride. It’s a young man’s deal, for sure.


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Photo by Matt Cohen

Photo by Matt Cohen


 

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