Why buy when you can make your own?
By JOE KUSEK
July 8, 2021
Why buy when you can make your own?
Brice Patterson created his own fireworks during the Fourth of July run for the Mountain Health Co-Op Northern Rodeo Association Tour.
Riding and roping at Harlowton, Ennis and Choteau in a 72-hour span, the Bozeman teenager had one of most successful weekends in NRA history.
Competing at both ends of the arena, Patterson earned six checks in three different events for $3,139, the most money by a competitor during “Cowboy Christmas” for the Northern Rodeo Association / Northern Women’s Rodeo Association.
“I can’t complain,” he said a few days later after his money won was being tallied into the 2021 standings. “My pockets feel a whole lot heavier now than from when I left the house.
“That last weekend was great. It was great for a lot of reasons.”
Patterson won money in bareback riding, steer wrestling and team roping. He also competed in tie-down roping.
“I’ve always competed in all the events,” said Patterson, the Montana all-around and bareback champion in 2019. “If you win some money, it covers my entry feels for my events.”
He won the bareback titles at Ennis and Choteau and placed second at Harlowton. He doubled his season bareback earnings at the Fourth of July and the money won alone would put him third in the standings.
Patterson was second in steer wrestling at Ennis and fourth at Choteau. He added a second place in team roping Choteau, the final rodeo of the weekend.
“After bareback, I just run down the arena,” Patterson said. “The NRA has been great to me. The committees have been terrific. They usually buck me first to give me time to get ready for bulldogging.”
The weekend was also change of fortune.
“Going in, we had a ton of bad luck,” said Patterson who ropes with his brother Cole. “We had a talk and decided we had to quit trying to approach it like a business. We said, ‘Let’s go out and have some fun.’ “
Patterson was up in slack for most of the timed events at the three rodeos and competed in the performances for bareback riding.
He went golfing with Luke Murphy of Helena between slack and the performance at Ennis.
“We did terrible,” Patterson said with a laugh. “That’s how I do every time I go.”
His three-check day in Choteau was tempered by some sad family news.
When Patterson and his brother were done, their father Jamy Patterson informed them that their grandfather Dick Rogers had died.
“It was unexpected,” said Patterson. “We jumped in the truck and drove 100 miles an hour back to Bozeman to our grandma’s house.”
The money won allowed Patterson to stretch his season standings lead in bareback and jump to the front for the all-around. He is also fifth for steer wrestling.
Patterson moved into contention for the all-around early in the season, winning the steer wrestling and placing fourth in bareback at Poplar.
He and his brother try to practice every day. “We go by feel,” said Patterson. “We might just run a few steers or calves and call it good.”
A graduate of Bozeman High School, Patterson now competes for the University of Wyoming. Undeclared for his major, he is leaning toward business and finance. He is taking four classes this summer.
“I’d like to get my degree and apply it to rodeo,” Patterson said.
And even with all the success, he wants more.
“In all honesty, I wish I was doing better,” said Patterson. “I know I can. The way things were working in tie down at Wyoming I’m kicking myself I didn’t pull a check in any rodeos yet.”
Patterson said he will continue to compete at both ends of the arena with a simple game plan.
“To win, make money,” he said. “The NRA is great money, great competition. “I’ll hit the rodeos hard and try to win money.”
The Fourth of July weekend produced lead changes in steer wrestling, barrel racing and bull riding for the year-end standings.
Abby Knight of Charlo swept Harlowton and Ennis to become the new barrel racing standings leader while Browning’s Wynn Wells won the bull riding at Harlowton and Choteau to jump to the front of the line.
Logan Beattie of Helena used a second place at Harlowton to lead steer wrestling.
Other races tightened up with Brad Yerian of Corvallis now holding a slim $18 lead over Helena’s Luke Murphy for the team roping headers. Less than $300 separates the top seven for both team roping headers and heelers.
The Mountain Health Co-Op NRA Tour continues with six rodeos in eight days. Starting in East Helena and Malta (July 10), followed by Scobey (July 15), Havre (July 16), Three Forks (July 16-17) and Red Eye Daze in Deer Lodge (July 15-17). Red Eye Daze is the only three-performance rodeo of the regular season.