What kind of equipment do you use?
There is a lot of good bronc riding equipment and good bronc saddles out there. I have only tried a couple different types of bronc saddles that are out there. I started in a Ray Cox bronc saddle many years ago, it had a 17 or 17 and half inch seat. It was a good beginner but I don’t think a fella should ride in one very long. After that I got a 17 inch Broken Arrow. I had some success in that saddle but when it got stolen, my buddies told me it was the best thing that could have happened. When it got stolen I borrowed a buddy’s saddle who was over in Iraq. It was a 17 and half inch Dahl. I got along with it fairly well even though it was way too big for me. When he got back from Iraq, I found another Dahl with a 16 and 3/4 seat and bought it from my buddy for $250 bucks, which says how good of shape it was in, because a new saddle will usually cost around $1300-$1900. I rode in the worn out saddle for a while and got along good with it. In 2006 I knew it was broke but kept riding in it even won the circuit finals in it. It was definitely broke and had stretched out to over a 17 inch seat. After I won the Circuit finals I rode it a couple more times but came across a Rick Carpenter that I thought I would like. I rode the Carpenter a couple times and then took it to the Dodge National Circuit Finals in Pocatello, Idaho. This turned out to be a bad idea, I did not get along with it very well. When I got home I decided to fix my old one. I had a buddy, Brad Rudolf fix it. We decided to modify it a little, we made it have a deeper seat and wider swells and put the tree back together and fiber glassed the tree. After the repair/ modify job it shortened the seat to 16 and a half (which is what the tree originally was). It felt a lot different and took a little bit to get used to, but once I did it was awesome and I loved it. I rode it that way for awhile but had an incident at an amateur rodeo that ended up with my saddle broken again, severely this time. I borrowed another buddy’s saddle for a couple rodeos and did well, then I found a Lester Sims 16 and half inch saddle. I rode the the Sims saddle while I sent mine to Utah to Brad to fix and modify again. The Sims saddle was a love hate relationship. I didn’t like it at first but then figured it out and won a lot of money in it. I had Brad fix the tree again and build some new rigging for my old saddle, we also reworked the swells again and did a couple other little things. I was extremely happy to get it back. It feels great and I get along great with it. If you’re wondering about the modifications to my saddle, have no worries, it is all perfectly legal according to PRCA specifications. Most all of the bronc riders going up and down the road today have modified their saddle in some way or another. Every rider has a different idea of what feels good and what works for them, and modifying a saddle helps find that. Things have changed a lot in bronc riding equipment over the years. Back in the old days, they used to drive cars over brand new saddles and break them because a broken tree has more give in them, and that’s what they liked back then. Every bronc rider differs in what they like, some like stout saddles, some like saddles with a little give, some like fiberglass trees, some like wooden trees, some like small swells some like big, some like short seats, some like big seats, this is why there are a lot of different styles and sizes out there. My suggestion to a beginner is find a good saddle that fits and is in good shape. Learn the basics of bronc riding and get it somewhat figured out before you start changing everything. As far as my stirrup leathers I ride ones that Carey Veach from Ankeny, Iowa made for me. Carey has a leather shop in Iowa and is a good friend and is good friends with tons of midwest cowboys. Carey used to ride broncs and understands everyone likes different things. Wade Sundell, Brad Rudolf and many others along with myself ride Carey’s stirrup leathers and chaps. I made the outside stirrup leathers in Carey’s shop, I made them like I wanted and they have worked great. I ride in spurs that have a 1 and quarter shank. Some guys like longer or shorter shanks but 1 and quarter are pretty standard. Reins are another piece of equipment that varies from rider to rider. Mine is a bigger, loose woven rein. Some guys like tight woven, or big or small reins, it’s just a personal preference like all other equipment.