Decorated cowboys watched in awe as a Tumut teenager clocked a time on a maniacal horse during the saddle bronc at the Wagga Pro Rodeo on Saturday.
Cooper Thatcher, 19, upset the favourite, Tooma’s Brad Pierce, to win the saddle bronc with an 84-point ride.
Thatcher, the son of 1996 Australian Professional Rodeo Association national title-holder Mark Thatcher won’t be living in his father’s shadow for long according to Pierce and fellow rodeo veteran Ben Hall, who won the bareback event on Satuday.
Pierce said Thatcher has what it takes to qualify for finals at Warwick.
“If he keeps on coming along and competing, I reckon we’ll see him there at finals,” Pierce said.
“It’s about consistency.”
Thatcher isn’t chasing an APRA title at this stage in his career, but his enthusiasm is unbridled.
He bought a new saddle last week, and gave it a test ride at the Berry Show rodeo on Friday night, and will head to Cooma for a rodeo next Saturday.
“It’s all starting to come together,” Thatcher said.
“I'm chasing the rookie title in the Bushies (Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association), that’s going well.”
The up and coming star said he’s improved out of sight in less than 12 months.
He has his dad to thank for his development.
“We’ve been getting on some practice horses at home,” Thatcher said.
“He’s been teaching me a bit of everything, as far as bronc riding and drinking goes.”
Rodeo organiser John Gill commended Thatcher on his “terrific” ride.
“His father was the best in Australia,” Gill said.
“He still has a fair way to go, that’s what us old fellas have to say.”
In the bull ride, the beasts threw their weight around, and Echuca’s Hayden Tyrell, one of the only cowboys to stay on for eight seconds, took home the prize money.
It was hot, there was no shelter and Equex was at full capacity. Spectators waited more than 10 minutes to buy food and drinks and use the portable toilets, fuelling discussion about the need for a more suitable multipurpose equine facility.
“Not just for us, but for equestrian events, dog trials, you name it,” Pierce said.
“It’d be a revenue-raiser,” Hall said.
“Wagga council could charge $5,000 and it’d get used almost every weekend.”