Andrew Evjene decided to dip his boots into the bull riding waters
By JOE KUSEK
August 13, 2021
Entering the new rodeo season, Andrew Evjene decided to dip his boots into the bull riding waters.
Already an accomplished saddle bronc rider on the Mountain Health Co-op Tour, the Two Dot cowboy decided to return to an event of his youth.
The swim in the arena didn’t last long.
“I cracked out on a few in the spring,” said Evjene. “In Conrad, I drew a bull that fit me perfectly. One that I should be able to ride.”
But that fit was not so perfect at the 2021 Northern Rodeo Association opener in June.
“He ended up bucking me off,” Evjene finished with a chuckle. “That’s when I knew I was done riding bulls.”
The weekend in Conrad wasn’t a complete wash.
Before getting tossed in the dirt, he posted a 74-point saddle bronc ride, good enough to finish second.
He’s been cashing checks since.
The 29-year-old Evjene, who splits his time working the family ranch and rodeoing, “I don’t get much sleep,” he said, has been putting together one of the more dominating seasons among the NRA competitors.
Evjene has won saddle bronc titles at five events – Gardiner, Ennis, Three Forks, Eureka and Dodson – and has been second at Conrad, Wilsall, Big Timber, Choteau and East Helena.
He’s earned $5,690, the most in any individual event and has an NRA-best lead of $3,476 lead on Kain Stroh, of Dickinson, North Dakota in the Mountain Health Co-op Tour standings with just a few weeks remaining in the regular season.
“The year, it’s been good,” Evjene said. “Coming into the season, I wanted to ride well and make the Finals.”
Evjene has emerged as one of the NRA’s top saddle bronc riders. He has six top-four finishes since 2014, winning the year-end title in 2018. He was third last year and fourth in 2019.
Evjene began riding saddle broncs as a sophomore in high school at Big Timber.
“I just grew up riding colts and ranching,” he said. “In saddle bronc, I was able to make a little money. Bulls, I wasn’t good enough.”
Even with a big lead in the standings, Evjene is taking nothing for granted. He knows from first-hand experience what can happen in a hurry.
Evjene was leading the standings in 2015 and seem en route to a title. “I thought I had it won, hands down,” he remembered. “And I got bucked off every horse at the Finals.”
He finished second to Philip Shields by $231 in the final standings.
“That does motivate you,” Evjene said of the memory. “You think you know everything and you get demolished. The sport making you humble is right around the corner.”
He also led most of the summer in 2016 before a knee injury shelved him and forced him to miss the Finals.
Along with chasing a second championship saddle, Evjene is handling a new role behind the bucking chutes.
“Yeah, that came out of nowhere,” said the likable cowboy. “I started going to NRA events when I was around 15. Everybody thinks I am older than I really am.
“When I started, there was a bunch of older guys who were good to be around. I was inspired by guys like Brian Dawson and Guy Simanton. Now I’m one of the older guys. Funny how that turns out. I don’t mind it.”
Evjene is traveling with Brand Morgan of McAllister. “I don’t know if I’m helping him,” Evjene said. “But I am taking him places he’s never been before.
“That’s the best part of rodeo. I get to travel around and hand out with my buddies. The stock contractors and secretaries of the NRA, they’re awesome.
“I just have to stay with the basics and keep grinding away. That’s all you can do … just go out there and have fun.
“If you don’t love it, it’s not worth doing.”
The Mountain Health Co-op Tour continues with events in Twin Bridges (August 13-14) and Darby (August 13-14).
The chase into the top 10 of the standings – to qualify for the NRA/Northern Women’s Rodeo Association Finals – continues to heat up as the regular season sprints to a close.
Less than $500 separates the top five in the barrel racing and top three in steer wrestling.
The scores were high and times were fast at Townsend where Timmy Sparing won the steer wrestling in 3.8 seconds, the fastest time of the year. The money won also lifted Sparing to first in the standings.
The steer wrestling top four were separated by just six-tenths of a seconds. The fourth-place time of 4.4 seconds would have been good enough to win at 15 rodeos this summer.
Tanner Theriault won the bull riding at his hometown rodeo with a stellar 86-point ride, matching the high score of the seasons.
Only four-tenths of a second separated the top 10 in breakaway roping, with Augusta’s Arena de la Cruz and Stephanie Rollins of Great Falls posting matching times of 2.1 seconds.
Kain Stroh went border to border to win the saddle bronc competition at Superior. Stroh traveled from Dickinson, North Dakota to Superior – 720 miles – for the victory. He also won at Townsend for his event-best sixth win of the season.