During Scott Breding’s career as a professional bull rider, people have repeatedly used a biblical reference when joking about the hazards of climbing aboard 1,800-pounds of fury.
“I’ve heard many times that man should not ride animals with a cloven hoof,” smiled Breding, a five-time WNFR qualifier and current PBR competitor, from Edgar, Mont. “But I guess I’m just a thrill-seeker. I like the constant challenge of trying to ride the beast for eight seconds.”
Breding is part of a world-class triumvirate putting on a bareback bronc riding and bull riding school for the Helena Rodeo Club at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds. The classes began Friday morning and run through Sunday.
The bull riding is being instructed by Breding, while world champions Bobby Mote and Clint Corey are teaching the bareback. There are 25 students attending the bronc riding classes, and 16 with 16 cowboys learning about bull riding.
“We have students here with a wide variety of experience, from beginners to veterans,” said Mote, who has qualified for nine WNFRs. “Our main goal is for the guys to take their skills to the next level, and have fun.”
Mote, from Culver, Ore., is a three-time PRCA world bareback champion, winning titles in 2002, 2007 and 2009.
Corey, 46, qualified for the NFR 18 times in a career spanning more than 20 years. He captured the world bareback crown in 1991, and has placed runner-up four times and came in third five times.
Corey said that Mote asked him to help out after getting such a large turnout for the school.
“Twenty-five is just too many for one guy to handle,” Corey said. “I taught Bobby when he was starting out, and we used to travel together for awhile. He called and needed some help, so here I am.
“Besides, I used to rodeo here (the Last Chance Stampede), and Helena is a great place with some really fine people. And Montana has some great bareback riders.”
Corey and Mote, who has also competed at the LCS the “last couple years,” are both good friends with Boulder bareback rider Ben Wrzesinski, who was one of the organizers of the school. Breding said he was called upon by his buddy John Hanson, the Helena Rodeo Club’s president.
The three-day school focuses mostly on the basics, beginning with the “front-end and back-end,” meaning how to get on and off of the animals properly.
Many of the 41 students in attendance belong to the local high school Rodeo Club. But there are also cowboys here from Canada, Idaho, North Dakota, California, and throughout Montana.
The youngest is 13-year old bull rider Dalton Brooks of Deer Lodge, while Butte bareback rider Maclin Staman, 32, is the oldest.
Bareback riders Brady Betram and Colter Antonsen traveled from opposite ends of the compass dial to attend. Betram, 22, came from Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, while the 18-year old Antonsen drove from Ridgecrest, Calif., near the Mohave Desert.
Antonsen’s mother, Gail Klett, and Clint Corey were high school classmates in Silverdale, Wash.
One of the local area students is Cavan Wrzensinski, a sophomore at Jefferson High School.
“I just want to learn more of the basics, start riding better than I did last fall, and improve on my mistakes,” said Wrzesinski.
The 16-year old Boulder cowboy already owns a career highlight.
“At Harlowton, I rode the same horse that my dad (Ben) had at the NRA finals, and I put up my best score ever with a 78,” he smiled.
Capital High senior Guy Nordahl, and Tanner Hollenbach, a junior from Dillon, are taking the bull riding class.
“This is the best school in Montana,” said Nordahl, who comes from a longtime rodeo family. “We all look up to Scott (Breding), he’s one of the best in the business. He definitely knows what he’s talking about, and I’m hoping to filter from what he’s learned.”
When asked what makes a person want to climb on top of the bucking giants in the first place, the slender Hollenback (5-foot-8, 120-pounds) quickly answered, “Because it’s a lot of fun,” before adding, “But you’re dumb if you’re not a little bit scared when you get on ‘em. But it’s that fear that makes you not want to screw up.”
Corey noted that the purpose of the school is not solely to teach riding.
“We want to instill in them a winning attitude,” Corey said. “Some of these kids have never even ridden before, and after the school they might decide that rodeo is not for them. But hopefully they’ll take with them some instruction on being winners in life.”