Imagine stepping into the bucking chute at a rodeo, crowds are hustling all around and the energy is high but inside that chute is the calmest part of your day.
All you can hear are your own thoughts and the person right beside you as put your fear and mental pressures aside to go to work for 15 seconds.
Everything around you shuts off as the horse bails out of the bucking chute; there’s no better feeling. That is how saddle bronc rider Cole Vinson, who credits the Brule Ruffout Rodeo for the start of his career, described the feeling of riding bucking broncs.
“When a horse bails out of the bucking chute and you get a good spur out and you hold your feet and everything comes even and you reach up and spur him right back in the neck the next jump and they’re bailing three or four feet in the air, and you’re reaching up there and getting a hold with your spurs, and you can feel everything every time your spurs come back to the cantle of your saddle and you’re just reaching and setting your feet, and when the whistle blows it feels so good you don’t even want to get off, you just want to keep spurring,” said Vinson.
To Vinson, riding bucking broncs is like an addiction and a craving that keeps him coming back for more each time.
But it wasn’t always like this for Vinson, who grew up in Brule on his family’s ranch located on the same land as the current Brule Ruffout Rodeo.
“My favourite part of rodeoing is the 30 seconds before I get on and the 30 seconds after I get off. If you make a good ride, it’s no different in any event, for barrel racing, bull riding, you make a good run and you feel proud of yourself. At the end of the day you feel that what you’ve done is good, it’s a feeling I don’t think you can get anywhere else. I’ve dirt biked, played hockey, golfed, played a lot of sports and the adrenaline rush you get from riding bucking horses is next level, you get to the point where it’s all you want to do,” he said.
“To tell you the truth, when I was a kid, I was scared a lot. Bronc riding for me has been a lot about facing my own fears and overcoming your own adversity,” he said.
Growing up around cowboys and family members who were involved in organizing the rodeo, Vinson was fortunate to get experience at the rodeo riding sheep and calves.
“The Brule rodeo is 100 per cent why I started rodeoing and why I still rodeo. I got trophies from the sheep riding there from 1993, I was three years old then,” said Vinson.
He also won calf riding one year but quit getting on for a long time afterwards.
“I was scared. I was scared to get on cows, I think at the time I was overthinking things a bit too much and then I was a rodeo clown at the rodeo until I was probably, I think I did it for four or five years, so I was like 18 and then I took the rodeo over when I was 20,” he said.
Former president Dusty Groat stepped down around 2011 and asked Vinson if he wanted to take over as arena director.
Vinson got on a saddle bronc at 19 and pushed through his first few years to find his success.
“If I got on 250 horses, I probably fell of 230 of them and as I progressed I’ve been probably on over 500 horses and I found consistency and success in the last three or four years of my career. And that’s not just me who struggles like that. Some of these guys that come to Brule who have made the national finals rodeo one year and then next year they can’t win anything. It’s a struggle for everyone.”
Throughout Vinson’s career he qualified for the Foothills Cowboys Association finals three times in a row, the Lakeland Rodeo Association finals, the Wildrose Rodeo Association finals, the Chinook Rodeo Association finals in saddle bronc riding and more. Among other career highlights, being able to put on bronc riding at the Brule rodeo has been a major accomplishment.
“This will be my third year competing as a saddle bronc rider at Brule and it’s really an honour to compete at home. I always felt very fortunate growing up in Brule especially growing up the way I got to around cowboys,” he said.
His grandparents homesteaded in Brule in 1947 and were part of the first Brule rodeo in 1967, his dad was also a saddle bronc rider and competed in the mid to late 70s.
“I remember seeing a picture of my dad when I was a kid at five years old and he was riding broncs and I vividly remember going to school and getting in trouble for riding the chair on my desk trying to be a bronc rider. Now I’m 28 years old and I’ve been riding bronc for just about 10 years and it’s crazy how things happen that way, I never thought I’d get here and accomplish what I have and I’m really looking forward to accomplishing more, I’m far from done,” he said.
To organize the Brule rodeo, Vinson is part of a team of committed people putting in a lot of time and effort every year to make the rodeo happen.
“I started putting this professional saddle bronc riding on at the 50th anniversary, which would be three years ago now. It brought new life to the rodeo.”
Some of the top cowboys come to the bronc riding in Brule, giving young cowboys an opportunity to work among the best in the world.
“I want to help every kid that wants to get involved in rodeo, because we need more kids and if it wasn’t for some people when I was a young kid, I wouldn’t still be rodeoing. It never would’ve instilled that passion in me to do what I do,” said Vinson.
The Brule Ruffout Rodeo takes place on May 4 at 12 pm for the 52nd annual family event. The lineup includes gymkhana events, sheep riding, the sheep scramble and the packhorse race.
The rodeo features a professional bronc rider show along with Travis James and his rank mini ponies. The rodeo is followed by a dance and live performance of Quinton Blair at the Brule community hall.