Mothershead flying high in the saddle
By JOE KUSEK
August 23, 2023
Parker Mothershead admits he is a bit surprised about his rodeo season this summer.
He shouldn’t be.
A year ago, the teenage cowboy wrote down his plans for 2022 and 2023.
“Qualify for the Finals, win the NRA,” Mothershead said of the Northern Rodeo Association goals he put on paper.
He achieved the first goal, competing at the NRA Finals presented by nuWest Builders at Majestic Valley Arena.
This year, the NRA year-end championship is clearly within reach.
“Write down your goals and you will achieve them,” said Mothershead.
Just 17 years old, Mothershead is the most successful competitor on the Mountain Health Co-Op Tour.
The saddle bronc rider has earned $8,038, the most for a single event by a cowboy or cowgirl.
He’s cashed 14 checks, including six victories and six runner-up finishes.
“This year has been terrific, for sure,” said Mothershead. “I’ve been getting on good horses, everything has clicked.
“Then again, it might be a stream of lucky,” he finished with a laugh.
Mothershead calls Laurel home but has a Joliet mailing address. “We live right on the edge of Yellowstone and Carbon counties,” he explained.
Mothershead is traveling hard, “I’m trying to make every NRA rodeo,” he said. “The Polson, Big Timber, Opheim trip, that was a tough one. I’m just making my way around Montana. When you live in the south-central part of the state, there are not too many rodeos in the area.”
Mothershead has gone border-to border, from Eureka to Scobey to ride bucking horses. He’s won at Culbertson, Big Timber, Scobey, Havre, Darby and Twin Bridges.
His 84 points on Triple Respect of Red Eye Rodeo in Darby is the high-mark saddle bronc ride of the year.
“That horse is just awesome,” said Mothershead, the enthusiasm rising in his voice. “He definitely didn’t have a day off that day.”
Mothershead began riding ranch broncs, “I saw a friend doing it and it looked like fun,” he said, then transitioned to regular saddle broncs at Little Britches Rodeo events at Miller’s Horse Palace in Laurel.
“It’s a dance, not a fight,” Mothershead said of the competition between rider and horse. “You’ve got to be in time with them the whole time. It’s a chess match.”
He and Hunter Haskins of Kalispell are slowly pulling away from the rest of the saddle bronc field. Haskins has 13 top-four finishes and three victories.
Mothershead attended Laurel High School for two years then finished school early through on-line classes. During the week he works for Mountain States Plumbing.
“I’m having a lot of fun this year,” said Mothershead. “I’m taking it seriously. I’m trying to win. You just have to take it horse by horse and I think I do that pretty well.
“I got bucked off in Livingston and I’m looking forward to my horse in Boulder.”
And he has some unfinished business in Kalispell.
“I got bucked off every time,” he said with another laugh of last year’s NRA Finals. “The pressure kind of got to me last year. I’ll be ready for it this year. There is definitely a revenge thing going to the Finals.
Jordan Larson of Charlo continued his torrid bareback riding, scoring 81 points at the Tri-County Rodeo in Deer Lodge. It is the high score of the summer and his fourth win of the season. Helena’s Hailey Burger won her second straight breakaway roping title while Mitch Detton won his third tie-down roping title to tighten his grip on first place in the all-around cowboy standings.
Other Deer Lodge winners: Kain Stroh, Dickinson, North Dakota, saddle bronc; Devyn Hundley, Darby, bull riding; Kaden Conway, Belgrade, steer wrestling; Coby King-Kyler Erickson, team roping; Lisa Warfield, Helena, barrel racing; Quincy Hansen, Dillon, junior barrel racing; Shaylee Broere, Lima, junior breakaway roping.
The Calamity Rough Stock Classic and Rodeo in Livingston might be new to the Mountain Health Co-Op Tour, but it will play a big role in determining qualifiers for the Finals. A total of 23 checks for a $1,000 or more were handed out with Payton Levine the big winner. The senior at Augusta High School took home $1,909 for winning the breakaway roping. It is the biggest single payout of this year. Coby King of Dillon won the steer wrestling where only four-tenths of a second separated the top four finishers. Dillon’s Kevin Peterson won the tie-down roping where only a half-second separated the top four.
Other Livingston winners: Spur Owens, Helena, bareback; Qwint Stroh, Dickinson, North Dakota, saddle bronc; Kyler McDonald, Ronan, bull riding; Dallas VonHeeder-John Vermedahl, Polson, team roping; Alexis McDonald, Gardiner, barrel racing; Katey Short, Stevensville, junior barrel racing; Shaylee Broere, Lima, junior breakaway roping.
The pressure increases with just one hand needed to count the remaining rodeos for the regular season.
The Mountain Health Co-op Tour will be in Boulder (Aug. 25-26), Wibaux (Aug. 26) and Chinook (Aug. 27).
The Boulder performances at 6 p.m. each night while Wibaux will begin at 7 p.m. and Chinook at 2 p.m.