Jesse Kruse emerged from the recent National Finals Rodeo battered, bruised and with less money than he expected.
But one week later, Kruse will be once again climbing aboard one of the best saddle bronc horses in professional rodeo.
“Why not?'' asked the Great Falls cowboy who won the world saddle bronc title in 2009. “I like to ride broncs. It's a great event and always fun.”
Kruse will be one of four world champions competing at the 16th annual Chase Hawks Memorial Roughstock Rodeo tonight at the MetraPark Expo Center.
The invitation-only event, which features the top 20 bareback, saddle bronce and bull riders from the United States and Canada, will begin at 7:30 p.m.
The rodeo is the centerpiece for an organization that raises funds for families in need.
The bucking horses and bulls are being provided by seven stock contractors, many bringing their rough stock directly from the NFR. There are 24 saddle bronc horses, 11 bareback horses and one bull that was selected for the 10-round NFR in Las Vegas.
Kruse is one of current or former world champions among saddle bronc field. He is joined by new world champion Cody Wright, along with Jeff Willert. A week ago, Wright won his second gold buckle and the NFR average in three years.
“It's cold and bad roads, but we like coming up to the Chase Hawks,'' said Wright, of Milford, Utah. He has been has been part of the event for a decade and won it 2007. “It's for a good cause.”
Willert, the 2005 world champion, won Chase Hawks in 2006 and 2008.
Wright and Kruse are part of a stellar saddle bronc group that also includes 2010 NFR qualifiers Dustin Flundra, J.J. Elshere and Cort Scheer. Former NFR qualifiers competing include Isaac Diaz, Dusty Hausauer and Josh Reynolds and Rusty Allen.
Most will a bit healthier than Kruse.
Kruse took a rough fall in the seventh round, suffering a dislocated shoulder and sprained left foot. His foot was so swollen, he had to borrow a pair of boots from fellow competitor Wade Sundell. Kruse wears a size six and Sundell a size eight. Kruse said he has turf toe in four of the five toes of his left foot.
“I'm a little sore, that's about it,'' Kruse said. “When I was looking for boots to wear, Wade said, 'Here, wear mine.' They were his walking around boots.''
Kruse won the first round and placed sixth the second. He earned $20,336 at the NFR and finished 10th in the final world standings.
“I'm a little banged up still but I should be able to ride.”
Former world champion and two-time Chase Hawks winner Kelly Timberman highlights the bareback group. Timberman won the Chase Hawks last year and 2003, the latter serving as a springboard into his 2004 world championship season.
Timberman is joined by 2010 NFR competitors Kaycee Feild and Joe Gunderson, along Ty Breuer, the 2010 PRCA bareback rookie of the year. Feild won Chase Hawks in 2008. Other former NFR qualifiers include Cody DeMers, Scott Montague, Jessy Davis and Tim Shirley.
Former world champion Cody Hancock leads the list of bull riders. He is joined by 2010 NFR qualifier Seth Glause, along with 2009 PRCA rookie of the year Tyler Willis. Former NFR competitors include Cody Buller, Will Farrell, Sonny Murphy, Marcus Michaelis and Jason McLain. McLain won the Chase Hawks in 2000 with a 91.5-point ride. It remains the high-marked ride of the event which began in 1997.
Jesse Bail, a two-time Chase Hawks winner in bull riding, is entered for saddle bronc riding this year.
The judges also include two former world champions: Larry Peabody, the 1984 world bareback champion and Loyd Ketchum, the 1991 Wrangler Bullfighting world champion.