Fourth annual Wes Hertzog Memorial Bronc Match rides into Moffat County Fair |

Fourth annual Wes Hertzog Memorial Bronc Match rides into Moffat County Fair

Ben Bulkeley
Shay Wyman holds on after bursting out of the shoots. Saturday's Wes Hertzog Memorial Bronc Match was part of the 2009 Moffat County Fair.
Ben Bulkeley

When Nick Peters, of Lubbock, Texas, decided to mount a bucking bronco three and a half years ago, it was because of a whim.

“I grew up on a ranch, so I’ve been around it my whole life,” he said. “One morning, I woke up and decided that I wanted to ride bucking horses.

“I’m lucky. I get to say ‘I do what I love.'”

On Saturday, Peters wasn’t the only cowboy doing what he loved, as the fourth annual Wes Hertzog Memorial Bronc Match featured more than 20 cowboys competing for a $4,000 purse and a new saddle.

In 2006, Hertzog was elected to the National Senior Pro Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, one year after he died while riding a bronco. Hertzog, of Maybell, was an eight-time world champion and five-time finals champion bronco rider.

Where the cowboys rode Saturday night holds a special spot in Hertzog’s legacy – his first competitive ride was in 1964, at the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

On Saturday, the riders honored Hertzog’s memory by doing what he did.

Peters was bucked off his horse, but that did little to calm his passion for the sport.

“She was just a really good horse,” he said. “She was just bucking really hard.

“I’m just happy to be out here, doing what I love.”

Darrell Triplett, of Waterflow, N.M., has been to the Wes Hertzog Memorial Bronc match every year since its inception.

“There are a lot of old cowboys around here who were riding bucking horses when my dad was,” he said. “I have a lot of friends in these parts.”

Triplett knew Hertzog.

“I knew Wes when he was in the Pro Rodeo Association,” Triplett said. “He was good buddies with my dad.

“We had a lot of fun. He was a good guy – had a lot of character.”

Being in Craig, in front of Hertzog’s home crowd, meant a lot to Triplett.

“He left a legacy,” Triplett said. “Really, when you ride in his memorial, you’re doing it out of respect.”

Triplett made it past the first round and put up a fight in the second.

“I had a nice horse, just the kind a man wants every time,” he said. “She was nice and smooth. It was a good run.”

His first horse was a more pleasurable experience, he said.

“That’s the set-up in the early rounds,” he said. “You have to take it, because you know later in the night there are going to be some rank horses.”

Colin Stalley, of Riverton, Wyo., was the busiest cowboy of the night.

Because of numerous re-rides, Stalley found himself in the saddle six times during the night.

“I just kept hoping I would have a good ride,” he said after his sixth and final run. “I just didn’t want to mess up because I’m tired.”

Stalley said he had ridden six horses in one night once before.

Even with the sustained punishment from getting on horse after horse, Stalley said he wasn’t too sore.

“No, but I probably will be in the morning,” he said.

At the end of the night it was Jake Costello, of Newell, S.D., who took home first place and the new saddle.

“It was just an honor to be invited to come to Wes’ memorial,” he said.

With the last ride of the night, Costello scored an 84.5.

“I had a couple of nice horses,” he said. “They bucked right from the shoots.”

Costello knew Hertzog and his former traveling partner, Marty Forester. He, like the other riders Saturday night, said he respected Hertzog’s legacy and was proud to participate.

“He died doing what he loved,” Costello said. “I hope that if that happened to me, they’d have something like this for me.”

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