Saddle bronc riding is billed as rodeo’s classic event and Texas is a hotbed for rodeo activity.
With all that in mind, who’s the best high school saddle bronc rider in the Lone Star State?
That person might be Gus Gaillard who is from the tiny community of Morse in the Texas Panhandle.
Gaillard, 17, a Gruver High School sophomore, clinched the Texas High School Rodeo Association saddle bronc riding title at the THSRA Finals on June 13 in Abilene. He has advanced to the National High School Rodeo Finals Rodeo, which is scheduled for July 17-23 at the Lazy E Arena at Guthrie, Oklahoma, which is in the Oklahoma City area.
Last year, he finished third at the National High School Rodeo Finals in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
He also finished No. 1 in the Cowboy Channel Jr. National Finals Rodeo saddle bronc riding title race on March 7 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
One reason Gaillard excels in saddle bronc riding is because he receives lots of support from family members.
His grandfather, Mark McCloy, is a retired stock contractor from Tatum, New Mexico, in the Hobbs area. McCloy rode for Texas Tech in the 1970s and competed in saddle bronc riding at the College National Finals Rodeo a couple of times.
His father, Lance, rode saddle broncs in high school, college, in the amateur ranks and some on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit.
As he competes, Gaillard is mindful of his family heritage.
“It’s in my blood,” he said. “It’s family traditions.”
McCloy said his grandson is focused.
“He’s got talent, he works at it and he’s gotten a lot of good coaching over the years,” McCloy said.
Lance Gaillard said his son excels because he’s very goal oriented.
“He really puts in the work,” Lance Gaillard said. “He loves it. He just started correctly and just does things right.”
Gus Gaillard began riding steers in the fifth grade and took on his first saddle bronc at 15. He said riding a bronc feels great when he’s in rhythm with the bucking horse and riding with correct form.
“It feels like a rocking chair,” he said. “It’s smooth. When it’s not smooth, it doesn’t feel very good. But when you’re making a good ride and doing things right, it’s real smooth.”
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Mike White was a high-profile competitor on both the Professional Bull Riders and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuits. He clinched the PRCA’s bull riding title in 1999. He earned more than $1.2 million in the PBR and is the PBR Ring Of Honor.
Today, White, 43, who is from De Kalb in East Texas, competes in amateur team roping competitions. On June 22, he and his wife, Hannah, lassoed the biggest tandem win of their 21-year marriage.
The duo roped four steers in 34.09 seconds to split the $100,000 first-place paycheck in the #12.5 Showdown of the Wrangler Bob Feist Invitational Week, a high profile team roping competition that was conducted at the Oklahoma-based Lazy E Arena.
The 2020 BFI Week was conducted for the first time in the Lazy E Arena due to a pandemic-forced closure of its usual venue in Reno, Nevada.
For the Whites, it was their first team roping win on a big stage.
“We’ve never won anything big together,” Mike White told veteran rodeo journalist Julie Mankin during the Wrangler BFI Week. “We struggle at it.”
But Hannah White said she and her husband are competitive people.
“We rope so much at home, it’s exciting for a plan to come together,” Hannah White said. “Our only fights have come in the roping pen. We work so hard at it, and we’re both very competitive. I don’t care if we’re going to the concession stand, Mike will say ‘I’ll beat you over there.’”
Four-time National Finals qualifier Stevi Hillman of Weatherford finished second in the barrel racing title race at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo on June 27 in Mesquite with a time of 15.23 seconds. Hillman is ranked No. 9 in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association 2020 barrel racing world standings (released June 29).
Brandy Gilbert of Springtown clinched the break-away roping title in Mesquite with a 1.90. J.J. Hampton of Stephenville came in second with a 2.00.
The Parker County Sheriff’s Posse Frontier Days And PRCA Rodeo is scheduled for July 8-11 in Weatherford. The Xtreme Bulls competition is July 7. The Weatherford rodeo traditionally runs in June, but the rodeo has been rescheduled because of coronavirus concerns.
Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos and horse shows for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than 35 years. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.