SALT LAKE CITY — Rodeo cowboys have a saying; take it one rodeo at a time. And even though the pressure of the Days of ‘47 Pro Rodeo is high, that is exactly what JR Vezain did.
Vezain, the four-time World National Finals Rodeo bareback qualifier from Cowley, Wyoming, got on a wild horse named Komatsu’s Miss Nancy and made an 87.5 point bareback ride, which placed him first in the Thursday round of the rodeo.
“My motor was running tonight,” Vezain said. “The horse was said to be kind of treacherous and it bucked one of my buddies off last year. A lot of guys don’t get along with it. I was pretty tickled and praised God that it all worked out. I felt like I rode her pretty dang good.”
Vezain is no stranger to trying circumstances. In May of 2015 Vezain broke his back when a horse flipped over on him in the chute. Vezain had two compression fractures and also broke his transverse processes.
“I was blessed enough to not have surgery,” he said. “I didn’t ride or hardly do anything for six months. Then I started getting on again in October of 2015.”
Despite the injury, Vezain has come back stronger and better.
“I got in shape (after the injury), and now I stay in shape,” Vezain said. “On my days off I got to the gym, either work out or stretch, and just try to keep my body in shape.”
This summer has proved that Vezain isn’t letting anything hold him back. He won a round at the Calgary Stampede and is currently eighth in the world standings. He will continue to hit many rodeos throughout the summer to give himself a better shot at the World Championship title in December at the WNFR.
“It is definitely a huge week,” he said. “Everyone thinks that the Fourth of July is Cowboy Christmas, but there is way more money to be won the next two weeks. This is a very opportune next two weeks and there is a lot of money to be had.”
The Days of ’47 Pro Rodeo is going to be instrumental in that success for several lucky cowboys and one lucky cowgirl. Most rodeos are set up so the top 10-15 rides or runs throughout the week go on to the short round to compete for the big money. This rodeo was set up much differently to better accommodate the fans and the competitors.
Each night the top two rides or runs qualify to compete in the short round on Monday. Each night competitors get the chance to win around $3,000. During the round on Monday, eight competitors in each event will compete to win $50,000 and earn an Olympic-style medal.
“Fifty thousand in one day can make or break a season,” Vezain said. “A guy could go from 50th in the world standings and win $50,000 and then be in the running for a world title or being in the top 10 and move to number one.”
Vezain said he thinks the way it is set up is great because it evens out the pens so the rodeo is fairer, and thinks the medals are original.
Even though this short round is worth $50,000, Vezain isn’t going to treat it any different.
“I am a very routine bareback rider,” he said. “I do everything the same for every rodeo, or I at least try to.”
“It’s just another bucking horse,” he said. “You have to treat them all the same. There is definitely hype. I love making short rounds, but I treat them no different than I did today, yesterday or how I will tomorrow.”