This Miller cashes checks on bucking horses

2014-08-16T22:09:00Z 2014-08-16T23:45:04Z This Miller cashes checks on bucking horsesBy JOE KUSEK jkusek@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The envelope was addressed to Justin Miller.

It was from the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association and inside contained a nice check for Miller’s performance at a recent rodeo up north.

There was just one problem.

It was delivered to the wrong Justin Miller.

“I didn’t even enter that rodeo,” said Justin Miller, a world-class bareback rider who calls Billings home.

The check was meant for Justin Miller, a steer wrestler who lives in Neepawa, Alberta, Canada.

“I called their office and explained the deal,” the Miller who rides bucking horses for a living said.

Even the PRCA is confused. The professional rodeo organization has given the Miller from Billings credit for two steer wrestling wins at Canadian rodeos.

Did he consider cashing it, knowing every penny counts when you’re trying to work your way up the PRCA world standings?

“I ripped up the check,” said an honest man.

Miller, who has criss-crossed the United States this year, was competing closer to home Saturday night, entered in the final performance of the PRCA Yellowstone River Round-Up Rodeo.

The rodeo paid out more than $130,000 across three nights. This year’s event, which capped off MontanaFair, featured a record 536 entries, including 17 current or former world champions.

One of those world champions was Mary Walker of Texas, who won the barrel racing with a time of 17.28 seconds. Walker, the first racer out, won the world title in 2012.

Beau Hill overcame a belligerent bull to win the bull riding with a 79-point ride.

“We call it alligatoring,” the West Glacier cowboy said. “He was rolling and laying down in the chute. We finally got him stood back up and everything seemed to work out.”

Miller scored 78 points aboard Exotic Blond, enough to finish fifth and earn $575.

“It’s always great to ride at your hometown rodeo,” he said.

Miller came to Billings 30th in the world standings with $22,715. The 2008 graduate of Billings Senior has won bareback titles at rodeos in Texas, Georgia, California, Kansas, and Utah.

“It’s been a good year, could have been better,” said Miller, who turned 25 on Aug. 4.

Driving to MetraPark was a lot quicker for Miller than a recent trip to western New York.

He and Heath Ford recently traveled to Gerry, N.Y., to ride bareback horses. Gerry is a small community near Lake Erie.

“I flew into Denver with Heath,” Miller said of the journey’s start. “Then we flew to Philadelphia and then to Pittsburgh. From there, it was a two-hour drive to the rodeo. It was a real quick drive.

“Heath is the contestant director for bareback riders and wanted to look at some horses out there. And we wanted to make some money.”

Ford will help select the bareback pen for the National Finals Rodeo in December.

Miller would tie for second place with an 81-point ride for $1,587.

They were scheduled to ride in Preston, Idaho, the next day.

“We drove back to Pittsburgh after the rodeo and slept three hours in the airport before our morning flight,” Miller finished. “We just made our way back to Denver and then drove eight hours to Preston.”

He stayed closer to home this week, riding in Kalispell on Friday and Billings on Saturday.

After a rare night sleeping in his own bed — “that will be nice,” he said — he will drive to Baker with fellow bareback rider Sylvan LaCross and bull rider Ty Tescher.

Miller, who won the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals title in 2010, is among the top 10 in this year’s MPRC standings.

“I need to make sure I get my circuit rodeo count in,” said Miller.

Montana residents must compete in at least 15 of the 40 PRCA-sanctioned rodeos to qualify for the MPRC Finals this January in Great Falls.

But Miller isn’t slowing down any time soon.

“I plan to hit my 100 rodeos this year,” he said.

He’s also tried to solve the Miller mix-ups.

“I’m adding my middle initial,” he said.

In other events:

• Walker and Christine Loflin were the first two barrel racers out and finished 1-2 on the revamped and much drier ground from rain-soaked Friday night. Torie Briese, Kaela Murphy, Terri Kaye Kirkland also moved into the money in the final performance.

• Mac Erickson used a second chance aboard Sankey Rodeo’s 9 Moons to score 80 points and tie for second in the bareback riding. Erickson was given a re-ride option after scoring 66 points on his first horse.

• Former NFR qualifier Tyrell Smith of Cascade was 82 points on Black Box to finish second in saddle bronc riding. Dawson Jandreau (80), J.C. DeSaveur (76) and Colter Heckman also earned checks.

• Aaron Tsingine of Arizona and Ryan Motes of Texas were 4.8 seconds in team roping to place fourth. Cut Bank’s Shawn Bird and Justin Viles of Cody, Wyo., were 4.9 to place fifth.

Ian Welles, of Buffalo, Wyo., was 10.1 in tie-down roping to earn a check; there were no changes among the top 10 in steer wrestling. Rocky Patterson emerged fourth in the average for steer roping in the final night.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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