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Broadus teenager Garrett Cunningham is the winningest saddle bronc rider on Tour

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East Helena Rodeo

Broadus' Garrett Cunningham is leading the Northern Rodeo Association in saddle bronc wins this summer with eight.  

BILLINGS — Garrett Cunningham is a young man on a hot streak.

The Broadus teenager is the winningest saddle bronc rider on the Mountain Health Co-Op Tour for 2022.

Cunningham, 19, has won eight events this summer, the most of any competitor for a single event.

“It’s been really good,” said Cunningham of his first year in the Northern Rodeo Association. “I had a great freshman year in college and it has continued into my NRA season.”

Cunningham rides for Montana State-Northern where he is majoring in diesel mechanics. This past collegiate season, he easily won the Big Sky Region title and qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo. He finished seventh in the nation at the CNFR in Casper, Wyoming, this past June.

He also finished among the top 20 twice at the National High School Finals Rodeo and is a two-time Junior NFR champion, including last year.

This summer, Cunningham has won at Polson, Choteau, East Helena, Malta, Havre, Scobey, Jardine 3 and Jardine 4. The victories have included a run of five in a row and back-to-back at the Hells A-Roarin’ Guts N Glory rodeos last week.

Cunningham has pocketed $5,601, the most for a single event.

“I was close to not making Jardine in time,” he said of Jardine 3. “I was home cutting hay the day before and I got up late. I just made it.”

Among his winning scores were high marks of 77 at Choteau on the Fourth of July and 77 at East Helena the following week.

Cunningham was also second at Opheim, third at Big Timber, Harlowton and Jardine 2, and fourth at Ennis and Three Forks. He earned $1,337 during the Fourth of July run with checks at Choteau, Harlowton and Ennis.

"’We’ve had a few all-night drives,” said Cunningham, noting he traveled from Broadus to Polson to Big Timber to Opheim one weekend in June.

When not riding, he lives on the family ranch outside Broadus. “It keeps the summer schedule busy,” he said of work and play.

Cunningham is part of a young group of cowboys representing the next generation of saddle bronc riders.

He was mentored by Shaun Stroh, a four-time qualifier for the National Finals Rodeo. Stroh, who won the NFR average in 2009, is also a two-time NRA champion (2000-01). His sons Kain and Qwint now compete on the Mountain Health Co-op Tour. Both qualified for the NRA Finals last year and are in the top 10 standings this year.

“Shaun Stroh taught me everything I know,” said Cunningham, who began riding broncs in junior high. “A bunch of us grew up riding broncs together. It makes it fun to ride against those guys. It’s fun when it comes down to a drawing game.”

Having competed at the national high school finals, college finals and the Junior NFR, Cunningham has become a veteran of riding for high stakes.

“That’s a big help,” he said of his experience. “Being in those finals helps with the pressure and how to deal with it. What I’ve been taught is don’t let it (a bad ride) bother you. Keep focusing on the good things and keep moving forward.”

Now he has another Finals in his sights.

“Yeah, I just have to keep riding like I can and try to pull the title,” said Cunningham. “I’m having a blast.”

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