Saddle bronc riding, deeply entrenched in rodeo’s heritage, traces its origins to the ranches of the American West in the 1800s. Cowboys honed their skills by competing against each other, showcasing their mastery in taming untrained horses. Although strength and skill are essential, many rodeo cowboys regard saddle bronc riding as the most challenging event due to its intricate technicalities. Join us as we delve into the world of ProRodeo‘s most demanding discipline with Parker Kempfer, the Southeastern Circuit Finals year-end saddle bronc champion!
Embarking on a Rodeo Journey
Nearly two decades ago, a young Parker Kempfer perched on the bucking chutes at the original Silver Spurs Arena, gazing in awe at the fearless rough stock cowboys who graced the arena. As he grew, so did his love and admiration for the sport. Parker’s family, including his father, George, and Uncle Doug, immersed themselves in rodeo, hauling bucking bulls to various events across the state. Although his mother initially restricted his rodeo involvement, Parker eventually found his calling as a champion saddle bronc rider.
Parker’s journey officially began during his senior year of high school when the first bronc burst from the chute. Parker recalled, “My mom couldn’t say no anymore.” Determined, he cinched up a borrowed saddle and nodded for the chute gate to open at a bronc riding school. Subsequently, he took on broncs in Kenansville for two consecutive days. A retired Silver Spurs Rodeo bronc named “Little Man” introduced him to the Florida High School Rodeo Association, leading to qualifications for the National High School Rodeo finals and a scholarship to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. After his freshman year, Parker transferred to Sam Houston State University to pursue better opportunities in saddle bronc riding, encountering different practice broncs and more amateur rodeos along the way.
Despite his growing interest in saddle bronc riding, Parker continued to exclusively play football, aiming to avoid jeopardizing the team if he got injured. As a football player, he honed the mental and physical preparation that served him well in rodeo.
The Interplay of Knowledge and Confidence
Parker learned that knowledge and confidence were inextricably linked. The more he acquired of one, the better he rode. Struggling to find the winning formula for qualified rides, he sought advice, switched to a slightly larger saddle, and dedicated time to practicing on the spur board. These efforts reflected in his improved riding skills.
Chasing the Dream of a Gold Buckle
Earning a gold buckle, or any buckle, in rodeo is a monumental undertaking. It necessitates substantial investments of time, travel, and unwavering determination. Throughout the year, fans can follow Parker’s journey as he competes at renowned rodeos like Cheyenne Frontier Days, Pendleton Round-Up, San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, and his hometown rodeo, the Silver Spurs in Kissimmee, Florida.
One of Parker’s most memorable rides occurred during his junior year of college at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming. Although he was bucked off Happy Valley of Vold Rodeo Company, a second chance awaited in Prescott, Arizona. Facing Happy Valley again, Parker successfully held onto the bronc for the full ride. However, officials disqualified him for failing to mark out. Despite leaving without a score, this experience marked a pivotal turning point in Parker’s rodeo career, boosting his confidence for a successful summer run.
In January 2021, Parker ventured to Davie, Florida, to compete at the Southeastern Circuit Finals. Despite facing challenges, he secured the title of Southeastern Circuit year-end saddle bronc champion by going 2-for-2. This achievement earned him a coveted qualification to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo on April 9 and 10.
Distinctive Features of the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo
The RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, held at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, stands out among PRCA-sanctioned rodeos due to its substantial prize money. Only the event winner and year-end champion from the regional circuit finals qualify for this prestigious event. Contestants from across the United States compete in seven traditional rodeo events, creating an extraordinary spectacle for rodeo enthusiasts nationwide.
The RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo is a culmination of Parker’s rodeo dreams, set in the same location where his love for rodeo first ignited—Kissimmee, Florida. Will you be present at OHP to witness the making of rodeo history?