The Saddle Bronc and Painted Valley.

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I’m not a fan of rodeo for the simple reason that some are not supervised with the health and welfare of the animals as supreme.

Having said that, there are events that I like to watch because the animal has an even chance against the human.  A like an even-steven showdown.  A real contest.  I love it when the commentators speak about the animal with as much regard as the rider.

So, the three events that I like to watch are upper level bull riding and upper level bronc and bareback riding.

(I say “upper level” because we pretty much know that a top quality bucking bull or bucking horse is very valuable and therefore well maintained.)


I’m not a Western rider but I totally get into many of the Western customs.  One of the Western customs I partake in every month is COWBOYS AND INDIANS MAGAZINE.  If I could live inside any home interior presented on those pages, I’d be a happy woman…

Anyway, this month, C&I featured ‘Special Horses’.  Love that.

One of the featured special horses was a saddle bronc called, Painted Valley.  The magazine photo of him was awesome and I needed to find out about this incredible athlete who was named Bronc horse of the Year in 2010.

This is the photo of Painted Valley from COWBOYS AND INDIANS magazine


Here is where I need to step in and add my disclaimer:  Yes, lots of bucking stock horses don’t have a great life.  With that, I need to add that lots of any kind of horses don’t have a great life.  And, if I could save and house them all, I would… But today, I’d like to celebrate the bucking horse athlete strictly for the individuals and their success.

One good thing about the bucking horse trade is that there are many horse owners who find themselves with an equine whose sole purpose is to buck.  If there weren’t bucking horse outfits, these horses would have no outlet.  I know, I know, I hear what you are thinking.  But, many of the famous bucking horses did come off the track or from private individuals.

Bred Bucking stock horses have a bad name because the horses are genetically inclined to buck which makes them less usable in the outside world.  However, if they aren’t good at bucking, they are good for the outside world.

When a bred bucking horse is good at it, that individual could have a job for many, many years.  From my research, quality bucking horses can be sold for upwards of $100K.  With values like that, most of them retire handsomely.

Not bad for getting to knock around a cowboy for 8 seconds twice a week…

Oh yeah, bucking broncs  aren’t gender exclusive.  Some of the best bucking horses are mares.  Yay!  Of course, this doesn’t surprise me at all having several mares around here…

No rules for this mare as she rears coming out of the chute... (I got this from the video of the 2010 finals)


There are rules in upper level rodeos.  The animals have to be healthy, the bucking strap has to be placed loosely on the flank (if it is tight, they won’t buck), the strap has to be fleeced lined with a quick release, the spurs have to be dulled and not stationary, the cowboy cannot injure the horse or he is disqualified, and the rider has to stay on for 8 seconds or none of this life-threatening mayhem matters at all.

Lest us not forget, the rider has to stay on while sitting in a tiny saddle and holding onto a rope, with one hand, that is attached to the bronc’s halter – all the while spurring the bronc in a rhythmic pattern as the horse is flinging himself about to the beat of an unheard drummer.

On the other hand, the bronc has no rules other than to buck high and well.

If the horse can buck high and well, all bets are off for the poor cowboy…  The horse can slam him into the fences, he can buck in the chute, he can do anything he wants to offload the cowboy and once the cowboy is offloaded, the horse can stomp on him – if the cowboy doesn’t get out of the way in time.

Hmmmm.  Seems like fun for the horse!

And, for his 8 seconds of flank strap misery, the valuable bronc horse is treated like a king/queen.

Nope, not for me... Sorry but I kinda think the odds are stacked towards the horse.


I was drawn to him not only because of his photo in C&I… and not only because he was chosen as Bronc of the Year in 2010…

I was drawn to him because of this photo:

This is the unbroke Painted Valley standing next to his girl and the reporter. Look at his forelock!

Here he is with his girl, Kirsten Vold, daughter of legendary rodeo stock contractor, Harry Vold.  As you can see, Painted Valley is posing for the camera between a reporter and Vold.

What you don’t know is that Painted Valley is not halter broke.  He stands by Kirsten because he loves her.  She raised him.  He is her horse.

She calls him ‘treat broke’.

How cool is that?!  This woman can work with the most feared bucking bronc stallion in the USA, merely by being his girl.  She says he is a ‘sweetheart’.  Hmmmm.  Tell that to the hundreds of ex-riders as they brush themselves off and hobble back to the chutes…

Another tidbit I find interesting is that most saddle broncs are half draft crosses.  All of the bucking broncs at Vold’s ranch are half Clydesdale and half Standardbred.  Interesting, eh?

(I wish those Premarin mares could have their day at this sport…)

Eeesh. Painted Valley doing his thing...


PAINTED VALLEY is a ranch raised stud – son of Harry Vold’s 6x WNFR mare 050 Big Valley and a Brookman bred stud. Selected to his 3rd WNFR in 2009, Painted Valley, had a breakout year from carrying World Champion Billy Etbauer to 89 points in Cheyenne to earning Best Bronc San Antonio, Best Bronc Mountain States Circuit, 3rd Runner up PRCA Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year voting and 2009 Best Bronc of WNFR In 2010 Painted Valley and Cody DeMoss paired up to set the arena record in Cheyenne at 91 points in the short round. Additionally, Painted Valley racked up the Best Bronc in San Antonio on the way to his 4th selection to the WNFR. Most notably, in 2010 Painted Valley was awarded the most coveted honor in rodeo, winning the 2010 PRCA Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year!


From Brad Rudolf:

“He really bucked for sure,” Rudolf said. “I kind of gave myself a disadvantage because he reared up and threw a fit in the chutes right before I got on him and my saddle kind of slid back. Then, that horse, he really breaks over and kicks really vertical and with my saddle back I was back closer to his rear end where he was kicking and he jerked everything away from me and threw me forward.”

Rudolf, from Battle Mountain, Nev., had no regrets about grabbing the rein with his free hand.

“He had me up out of there so bad right from the start that I tried to get down for a couple of jumps, but I knew there was noway I was going to be able to ride him,” said Rudolf, who was aboard Painted Valley for the first time. “So, I was trying to get to where I could double grab and get to where I could jump off on my terms instead of his.”

All in a day's 8 seconds for Painted Valley... Brad Rudolf's ride.



Bucking horses can have a long and illustrious career.  You’d think that all the bucking would make them unsound but it appears to keep them healthier than many other types of working equines.

Perhaps ‘getting their bucks out’ on a regular basis (no more than twice a week) helps them emotionally. Dunno.

Maybe at a price over $5K a ride, these animals are well cared for, for sure!

But the facts speak for themselves…

(excerpt from Cindy Schonholtz)

One of the best indicators of the suitability of (bucking) horses to the sport of rodeo is their longevity of life and career. High Tide, a legendary bucking horse, bucked off a 19-year old-cowboy at the national finals when he was 32 years old. Sippin Velvet, a descendent of Man O’ War, bucked at the National Finals Rodeo 18 times and was retired to a standing ovation during the 1994 National Finals Rodeo at he age of 25. The Calgary Stampede Rodeo Company, one of the oldest breeding programs in rodeo, include many older horses in their list of top bucking horses. A few of these older champion broncs currently bucking include: 21-year-old Go Wild, 21-year-old Kloud Grey, and 24-year- old Guilty Cat.

Both Cody Wright and Painted Valley made history with this ride.




For me, I love the names given to bucking horses.

Lunatic Fringe, Hell’s Angel, 5 Minutes to Midnight, Come Apart, High Tide, Dusty Dan, Dust Devil, Billy the Kid, Sheep Tick, Elvis, Matterhorn, Yellow Devil…  I think I’d love the job of naming bucking stock!


Cody Wright riding again... Wowsa.


I hear the Harry Vold Rodeo Company is hoping to clone the famous Bobby Joe Skoal.  He was three time Bronc of the Year.  Even though Bobby Joe is now retired,  Vold hopes to keep his legacy alive by cloning the horse he calls “a dream to handle with a disposition to match.”

Hmmmm.  Pretty good for a horse who is best known for dumping his rider…

VIDEO (no affiliation)

I found this short video of the highlights from the 2010 Pro Rodeo Finals.  The riding is amazing.  The bucking is amazing.

Painted Valley is in there a few times.  You cannot mistake his coloring…

Click to watch the highlight reel of the 2010 Championships

DVD (no affiliation)

Or, you can purchase a DVD and watch these bad boys and girls buck away!  A great watch when you’d like to see a fair fight!  ;)

Click to go to the DVD


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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

6 comments have been posted...

  1. Lori OHarver

    I am a horsewoman …. it’s a lifelong pursuit that bloomed from an intrinsic love of horses. AS a horsewoman, the first rule is ‘think like a horse who doesn’t know there’s a ‘box’ to think outside of”.

    I’m VERY impressed with this blogger who’s vision took her beyond urban legend regarding bucking horses and brought her straight to the heart of these amazing athletes who have the privilege of living out their lives not as slaves to our whims, our ideas of what happy horses are, how to dress them, what kind of cookies to feed them or what meaningless (to them) tasks they’ll perform for us.

    THESE horses are the epitome of ‘the natural horse’ in terms of their management, their jobs and how we view them …. not as our work mates, pets or tools, but on their terms.

    They BUCK because they’re good at it and many will buck with out the wide, soft leather belt covered with clean, fluffy fleece pulled up snug at the flank. Horses who don’t like this job (much like horses who don’t like ANY career chosen for them and therefore fail to perform) simply quit bucking. Many go on to be happy, traditional mounts. Many horses bred to be traditional mounts choose this life.

    Bronc riding gives these horses a venue in which to shine as the stars they are. With out this venue? Where would this horse of a different color be?

    Kudos to this blogger for her vision and willingness to learn. Horses from every walk of life NEED this from our species. We’re all in this together.

  2. dawndi Post author

    I don’t have much confidence that many rodeos care much about the welfare of the animals.
    I can only speak for the upper level divisions that I have watched and reported.
    From what I could see, the very upper end stock are provided by stock contractors who make approx $5K per ride of a great bronc. If that bronc happens to be a stud, they make a high stud fee as well. Because these great bucking horses command top dollar (some sell for over $150K), I have seen the stock contractors be rabid about their welfare. I have seen famous riders be disqualified because their spurs cut the hide of a famous bronc. If the horse makes THAT KIND OF money, the contractor has incentive to keep them healthy. Hence why bronc horses have a longer tenure. They are worked less and cared for more. Now, I’m not saying that they love these horses or care about them personally, I’m just saying that I have never seen any electrical shenanigans in the very top levels of this sport – and I’ve looked – because the horses have more value sound than prodded. (Also, they have to be calm enough to be handled for breeding.)
    As far as the feet, most of the broncs are not handled much for obvious reasons. Painted Valley is ‘treat trained’ but not halter trained. He doesn’t nave his feet trimmed. He is set free on the range. (Personally, before I adopted a wild mare who after 2 years is still wild, I would have never understood how a horse could trim his own feet. But, she does. My mare has never had a trim and her feet are just fine. So, it does work if a horse is turned out onto varied rangelands.)
    Dunno. I don’t treat my horses like stock. So, I’m a bit sensitive, too. But, if you asked Kirsten Vold about Painted Valley, she would go on and on about him… She loves him. Just differently, I guess.

  3. RiderWriter

    @ Mari, I saw a video online that had been recorded undercover, I believe at the Calgary Stampede, where the bucking horses were CLEARLY being shocked. I would like to think this is actually not the case in a majority of rodeos. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing. I have only been to one rodeo in person, held in an arena here in St. Louis, and there was no shocking going on there that I could see and believe me, I was looking. The rodeo personnel were extremely serious about not letting anyone near the animals, though; I was merely observing them from about 50 feet away before the rodeo started (I was actually at the arena to work in a snack bar) and was yelled at by a security person and told to move. THAT made me wonder. Were they worried I was from PETA?

    @ Becky, I noticed the feet as well, and not just on Painted Valley. I agree, that’s disappointing.

  4. Mari Dickson

    I am shocked you support rodeos for any reason…..I love barrel racing and pole bending; however, they are not considered “rodeo” contests. What the majority of rodeo fans do not know is both broncs and bulls are given a 5,000 watt electric prod shock just before leaving the chute. This is illegal, but is is nevertheless done to incite anger and aggression to promote bucking….the flank strap is the least of this torment! When the bulls and broncs become exhausted from constantly shocked and can no longer respond to this abuse, they are discarded. Worse than this “rodeo showmanship” is team roping where the calf is stretched to his limit and often dies from his wounds.


  5. Becky Jeffrey

    In the picture with Brad Rudolph, did you look at his hooves? Do they not need to be done?

  6. Rosemary

    I read your blog everyday and always enjoy and support the work you do. But….this post has me confused. Please do some research on Why These Horses Buck. Might it have something to do with the Bucking Strap that I see all of them are wearing. Please look into this and I think you will not be so supportive of the events you are supporting at present.
    Keep up the good work in all that you are doing but please take a little time to research how a bucking strap works. If these horses were bred and willing to buck without the need of a bucking strap it might be another story but…………

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