Both times standout bareback riding horse C5 Rodeo’s Virgil had been ridden in 2021 it resulted in 90.5-point rides for Tilden Hooper in Clovis, Calif., April 25 and Cole Reiner at The American in Arlington, Texas, March 7.
Saddle bronc rider Lefty Holman joined in the fun aboard Virgil at the Spanish Fork (Utah) Fiesta Days Rodeo.
The California had an arena record 90.5-point ride on Virgil to claim the rodeo title for a much-needed win.
Virgil, the 2017 Pendleton Whisky Let ‘er Buck Bareback Horse of the Year, has been awarded nearly every honor available as a bareback horse but C5 decided to try the giant grey bucker as a saddle bronc horse this summer.
“He’s a phenomenal horse. He’s big and strong . . . he’s a big intimidating sucker,” Holman said of the 1600-pound horse. “I was just the third guy to ride him with a saddle. I watched my good buddy Colt Gordon get on him and Rusty (Wright).”
Both Gordon and Wright hit the dirt soon after the gates cracked in their attempts on Virgil, a fact of which Holman was very aware.
“I am super lucky to have people who help me, and we talked about how much rein to give him,” Holman said. “But really, it was a shot in the dark because no one had made it past that first jump on him so we didn’t know what would happen after that with the saddle.”
What happened was an electric ride in front of a raucous crowd at the major stop on the ProRodeo Tour and a win that couldn’t have come at a better time for Holman. He entered the third week of July ranked 23rd in the PRCA | RAM World standings and earned $8,234 for his performance as he seeks his second-straight berth to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“I needed that win,” Holman said. “I had a slow start to the season, I was in a bit of a slump. I was fighting my saddle and just not riding like the old Lefty.”
Some advice from veteran Bradley Harter helped flip the switch for the 22-year-old.
“When you think it’s your saddle, it’s usually your head,” Holman laughed. “Bradley gave me some great advice that helped me. He said, ‘have your mind made up before you ever get to the rodeo and don’t let anyone change it.'”
“When you’re struggling, there’s going to be a lot of chirping, but you just need to have tunnel vision on what you need to do.”
Holman got the news of his big win as he and hauling partner Riggin Smith were driving to Cheyenne, Wyo.
“Riggin was 90.5 at Ogden and was winning it,” Holman said. “When the rig’s winning, we carry a lot of momentum behind us and that’s great, especially this time of year with lots of good rodeos ahead of us.”
Smith won Ogden, which also concluded July 24 like Spanish Fork, with a 90.5-point ride on Korkow Rodeos’ Onion Ring and earned $5,894.
Holman is hoping the ProRodeo Tour points earned will give him a chance to ride at the ProRodeo Tour Finale in Salinas, not far from his home in Visalia.
“That’s going to be super exciting,” Holman said. “Salinas has always been one of my favorites. It’s going to be special, like home court advantage.”
Other winners at the $333,316 rodeo were all-around cowboy Zack Jongbloed ($5,927, tie down roping and steer wrestling); bareback riders Jess Pope and Garrett Shadbolt (89.5 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Gun Fire and Frontier Rodeo’s Short Night, respectively); steer wrestler Eli Lord (8.1 seconds on two head); team ropers Pedro Egurrola and JC Flake (9.3 seconds on two head); tie-down ropers Shane Hanchey and Shad Mayfield (14.80 seconds on two head); WPRA barrel racer Marcie Wilson (16.97 seconds on two runs); and bull rider Dustin Boquet (92 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Glory Days).
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