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News and notes on the rodeo trail

by Tracy Renck | Sep 30, 2019


News & Notes from the rodeo trail

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is proud to announce and recognize the finalists for the 2019 PRCA | Zoetis Veterinarian of the Year Award.  

Created in 2010 to spotlight and honor veterinarians who have dedicated time, talent and effort to the health and welfare of rodeo livestock, this award allows the opportunity to give back to these deserving individuals.  
Members of the PRCA nominate a veterinarian whom they feel has shown extraordinary commitment to the health and welfare of rodeo livestock. Nominations are then considered by a review and selection committee comprised of industry experts and advocates who carefully reviews each nominee’s specific contributions to the health and welfare of rodeo livestock. Additional criteria including the extent of involvement in the sport of rodeo and community involvement also are considered by the committee.
The recipient of the 2019 PRCA | Zoetis SVeterinarian of the Year Award will be announced in mid-October and will be honored at the PRCA Awards Banquet at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Dec. 4.

The following six distinguished veterinarians have been selected as finalists.  
Dr. Benjamin Espy, San Antonio, Texas
Nominated by Kaycee Willbanks Colletti
Espy, a life member of the San Antonio Livestock Exposition, began volunteering at the San Antonio Livestock Show & Rodeo in 1997. While maintaining and continually improving the operating procedures regarding livestock movement, transportation and conveyance at the San Antonio Livestock Exposition, more than 60,000 animals move on and off the grounds during the 18-day run and under Espy’s watchful eye. With a passion for higher education, Espy works as an adviser to the students who receive the Veterinary School Scholarships through San Antonio Livestock Exposition. Espy also serves as a member of the PRCA Livestock Welfare Committee.

Dr. Chris Ray, Bozeman, Mont.  
Nominated by Brian and Lisa Anderson/Copper Spring Ranch
A recognized Equine Sports Medicine Surgeon, Ray has dedicated his life to the health, well-being, soundness and longevity of the rodeo-competitive horse. With the clinical focus of prevention, rehabilitation and soundness in the future, clientele of Ray’s include many past and present world champions of the PRCA and WPRA. Ray is known not only for his professionalism and compassion while working with livestock and their owners, but also as an individual who puts the needs of livestock before his own personal time and financial gain. 

Dr. Heather Schneider, Hudson, Iowa
Nominated by Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days
Schneider’s passion for rodeo began long before becoming the exclusive arena veterinarian at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2010. Over the course of her tenure with Cheyenne Frontier Days, Schneider has filled numerous rolls including Contestant Committee Member, Veterinarian’s Assistant and Miss Frontier. Schneider was monumental in forging a partnership with Cheyenne Frontier Days and Colorado State University’s Equine Clinical Services Program, which has been designed to ensure the sport of rodeo and its livestock have qualified, dedicated and experienced veterinarians for years to come. 

Dr. Edward Taylor, LaPorte, Colo.  
Nominated by Tucson (Ariz.) Rodeo Committee
While never residing in the Tucson, Ariz., area, Taylor has served as the attending veterinarian for the past 32 years. The 1998 Arizona Equine Practitioner of the Year, he has served in the same capacity at Prescott Frontier Days, the Coors Showdown Rodeo, the RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo, and many other rodeos and bull ridings. Taylor was instrumental in designing the animal care unit and animal care and emergency procedures for La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson and leads the annual review of animal welfare procedures. Taylor built a mobile equine practice in Scottsdale, Ariz., after serving as an equine surgeon in a hospital in Gilbert. He continued that service in Colorado after moving there in 2007. Taylor is also the Assistant Chief of Fire Operations for the Livermore, Colo., Fire Protection District.

Dr. Ed Gilsleider, Claremore, Okla. 
Nominated by Linda Caffey, secretary of the Will Rogers Stampede
Gilsleider has been the on-call veterinarian for the past 15 years at the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla. He and his family are at each performance, and he is available to contestants and the stock contractor 24-7 during the week of the rodeo. A pioneer in several orthopedic procedures to correct leg deformities in ratites (ostriches, emu and rhea), Gilsleider has transferred these techniques to other species, including equines and bovines. He is a published author and lectures in the United States and abroad. The 2016 Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association’s Food Animal Practitioner of the Year has a “never say never” attitude about working on anything that comes through his door. Gilsleider is a board member of the Tri-County C.A.S.A., Birthright, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He also serves on the board of the Claremore Chamber of Commerce.



Saddle bronc rider J.J. Elshere, who is in 15th in the Sept. 30 unofficial PRCA | RAM World Standings, broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg while competing at the Corn Palace Challenge in Mitchell, S.D., Sept. 27. Elshere had surgery to repair the injury in Rapid City, S.D., Sept. 28. The PRCA regular season concluded Sept. 30. Elshere, of Hereford, S.D., suffered the injury following his 84.5-point ride on Korkow Rodeo’s Broken Angel. “I ran my leg into the panel while riding and caught it on an upright, I guess, and just bent it back,” said Elshere, 39. “It was right after the whistle blew.”

Elshere placed third at the Corn Palace Challenge and earned $2,680. That money helped him finish 15th in the Sept. 30 unofficial world standings. Elshere was $1,025 in front of 16th-place Isaac Diaz in the standings. “I just want to get this thing healed up as quick as I can and hopefully ride them all at the NFR,” Elshere said. The 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will be in Las Vegas, Dec. 5-14. “I was told by the doctor that I should be good to go in eight weeks,” Elshere said. “I’m going to try everything I can to get her healed up as quick as I can. I have never had an issue with my right leg before this. I’m planning on getting healthy and competing at the NFR.”



Photographers for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping have been announced. The Wrangler NFR is Dec. 5-14 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The in-arena photographers will be James Phifer and Billie-Jean Duff. The behind-the-scenes photographers will be Steve Gray and Clay Guardipee. The photographer for the NFSR will be William Kierce. This year’s NFSR will be at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Nov. 22-23.


The Cowboy Journal, which was launched in 2017 at the Wrangler NFR by founders Shane Hanchey, Logan Ward, Matt Cohen and Megan Scales, has been selected for the 2019 PRCA Journalism Award presented by Boot Barn. The Cowboy Journal spent its first year bringing first-person stories directly from contestants – cowboy and cowgirls and bullfighters, stock contractors and others inside the arena. The Cowboy Journal added an opinion column in March 2019.

Las Vegas Events launched “NFR Extra” March 20, and the bi-monthly podcast focuses on the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and features personal conversations with icons that embody the rodeo and Western lifestyle. NFR Extra has been chosen for the 2019 PRCA Multimedia Broadcast Award presented by Boot Barn. NFR Extra is hosted by Bo Gardner and Nevada Colwell. NFR Extra delivers four unique segments in each podcast. Following the opening segment with the hosts there are a series of interviews with a wide array of legends, contestants and personalities.

The PRCA media award winners will be honored at the PRCA Awards Banquet at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Dec. 4.


Reigning Team Roping Header World Champion Clay Smith set a record for the most money won by a team roping header in a single regular season before the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with $150,512 which leads the Sept. 30 PRCA | RAM World Standings. Clay Tryan held the top regular season team roping header amount when he earned $146,608 in 2010. Smith qualified for the 2018 Wrangler NFR in the No. 1 position with $115,345 and went on to win his first world championship, thanks to earning $174,577 at the Wrangler NFR in Las Vegas. Since the spring, Smith has been roping with heeler Jade Corkill, who won world titles in 2012-14. Saddle bronc rider Ryder Wright also broke a single-season regular season money record in 2019. Wright leads the Sept. 30 world standings with $224,488. The previous top saddle bronc riding regular-season earnings mark was $184,052 set by Jacobs Crawley in 2017.



The 2019 Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping is Nov. 22-23
at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane. The Top 15 steer ropers in the PRCA based on PRCA | RAM World Standings at the end of the regular season head to their own national championship which is a separate event from the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. (CT). The competition begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets from $28 plus taxes and convenience fees. To book tickets go to To book your 2019 NFSR room and ticket package visit
What to Watch for


Next Up

Oct. 3             Northwest Championship Rodeo, Bonifay, Fla., begins

Oct. 3             Waller County Fair & Rodeo, Hempstead, Texas, begins

Oct. 3             Leesville (La.) Lions Club Rodeo begins

Oct. 4             Livingston (Texas) Pro Rodeo begins

Oct. 4             RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo, Prescott, Ariz., begins

Oct. 4             Tulsa (Okla.) State Fair PRCA Rodeo begins

Oct. 4             RAM California Circuit Finals Rodeo, Lancaster, begins

Oct. 4             Minot (N.D.) Y’s Men Indoor Rodeo begins

Oct. 4             Fort Bend County Fair & Rodeo, Rosenberg, Texas, begins

Oct. 5             Heart O’Texas Fair & Rodeo, Waco, begins


 2019 PRCA RAM World Standings Leaders
Unofficial through Sept. 30, 2019


PRCA Sponsors
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