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By Brenda Matamoros Photos by RM Photography


In 2013 the UPRA had an exceptional year. For one, it approved more rodeos in different parts of its region. Second, the payout for the entire year was a little over $3.1 million dollars, an increase from $2.9 million in 2012.


According to Jerry P. Hll, president of the UPRA, “We are more like a weekend-warrior style association and about 70 percent of our participants have regulars jobs. The other 30 percent are chasing the money and gold buckles around the United States. But for the most part our members are weekend warriors and travel on the weekends to 3 or 4 states. We now have more rodeos for them to participate in.”


It was in the mid 90s, when Hill was general manager, that the payout for the UPRA was only $500,000. Over the years, the purse has increased but the economy has always played a role. “The rodeo business seems to go with the economy. It plays into fuel prices and it limits some of the contestants from participating,” Hill said. “In 2014 we are hoping for some of the same things we accomplished in 2013. We hope to see additional rodeos coming on board with the UPRA and we are always looking to expand the horizon into further areas. That way we can service more members and have more rodeos close to them.” It was on November 22- 24, 2013 when bad weather rolled into Sulphur Springs, Texas, the site of the UPRA finals. Predictions saw a very thin turnout but true to the good luck the UPRA has had in 2013, the Sulphur Springs’ civic center saw some of its biggest crowds to date.


Over 100 cowboys and cowgirls competed for the UPRA championship over the 3 days but really, the competition started at the beginning of the season. And despite the good fortune of the UPRA, not all of its champions had an easy road to the finals. Jeremy Shed, bareback rider and UPRA 2012 and 2013 champ, spent half the year with a broken bone.


“The


year started out great. My traveling partner and I started back in the spring. Shoot, I was winning just about everywhere we went and just kept going. Then on July 1st


I


broke my collarbone,” said Shed, whose


total winnings were $ 13,415.67 in the UPRA. Shed was out of


the running for six weeks. Luckily he had done well early in the year, he had a wide enough lead to keep him in first place.


“If you’re


entering a lot of rodeos, the wear and tear catches up with you then. I’m the old guy. I’m 37. The majority of the guys I’m competing against are about 15 years younger than me,” Shed said. “I think that’s my motivation to do well cause a lot of guys will be like, you can’t do that, you’re to old to do that. I think I use that as motivation to do well and try hard. “


Not only did Blane Cox win $17,769.90 in steer wrestling and the championship buckle but he was also crowned the All Around Cowboy. Abby Pursifull was named All Around Cowgirl with $10622.10 in winnings.


Unfortunately, the start of the year saw a very big upset for Cox when his horse, Cozy, died. For the next few months, Cox rode whatever horse he could borrow and that put him down between 6th


and 7th place.


Fortunately, his friend and hazer, Termaine Dubose, came to the rescue with his own horse. Once Cox started riding Dubose horse, Newt, the tables turned in a positive direction.


“I had no idea I could still win it,” Cox said. “I won second in the first round and second in the third round. In the third round I drew a steer that


Cowboy Sports News Page 58 - January 2014


Abby Pursiful (above) and Blane Cox (left) were this years UPRA All Around Cham- pions. Photos courtesy of R&M Rodeo Photos


they didn’t have a time on it yet and I just went and caught her. And I won the average. My time for the last one was 5.5.”


Shawn Jones, ranch bronc champion and winner of $6507.58 had some pretty big competition this year at the finals.


“The first round they [horses] bucked everybody off. I shouldn’t have bucked off but I did. I had a horse that was manageable but I dropped my rein at the buzzer and I let it slip,” said Jones, 33. “The second round I drew one that didn’t fit me very well and I ended up getting knocked out. She threw me into a pole and knocked me out.” The equation to solidify Jones’ win was tough. His main competition, Keon Miller, had to get bucked off and Jones had to win the round and hopefully win the average or win the second in the average to acquire enough money to slip through and win.


“And that is exactly what happened,” Jones said. “He bucked off of a really good bronc and I rode mine and I ended up winning it by $100 bucks.” In saddle bronc riding, Slatyr Hunnicutt, took home the big prize and $ 9,852.11. “I drew pretty good horses each night and made a good enough ride to place. Then it kept me in the average and I won and won a bunch of money.” Hunnicutt, who is presently getting his degree in agriculture science, kept up a rapid pace of rodeos throughout the year.


“My traveling partner, Wacey Hathcock, and me went to two or three rodeos every weekend. Sometimes it would be a really good weekend and sometimes it wouldn’t,” Hunnicutt said. “We had a pretty strong summer and we were winning money a lot of them. I stayed healthy.”


Hunnicutt keeps himself on a tight workout regime. “We work out hard. When we aren’t on the road we are working out. It keeps you strong and healthy otherwise I can’t ride as good,” Hunnicutt said.


After 10 years away, Mindy Elrod returned to competing in breakaway and in her first year back, she won first place at the UPRA and $17,857.95


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