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July 26, 2011
St. Joseph News-Press: Part-time cowboy rides pro
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Northwest Missouri State University employee Chris Redden took his extreme horse racing up a notch this month and placed sixth at the Cowboy Up Challenge, July 8-17, at the legendary Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta.
Redden and his 12-year-old horse, Wrangler Baron Bar, finished with a score of 103.710. Redden brought home a $600 check, which was enough to cover his entry fee.
The top-prize winner was a fellow Missouri cowboy, William Rageth, of Harris, who earned a final score of 128.255. Redden said he and Rageth are friends and traveled to the event together.
Redden, who admitted he'd never traveled outside the United States, called the invitational event the best thing he's done.
"If they invite me back I'll do it again," he said. "It's the biggest thing I've ever been invited to."
Though the Cowboy Up Challenge debuted last year and was the first Extreme Cowboy Racing event on Canadian soil, the sport is the fastest-growing in the equine industry. More than 100 Extreme Cowboy Association (EXCA) events took place last year from Alberta to Maine.
A timed and judged event, the sport demands horsemanship and speed while challenging the horse and rider with an obstacle course that may include moguls, bridges, log crossings, tunnels, cowboy curtains, roll backs and water crossings.
The course changes from round to round, and riders may only preview it minutes before the event begins. Judges award points for each obstacle, on a scale of one to 10, based on criteria including horsemanship, cadence, control and overall execution. Quickness also is a major factor.
The last of three rounds features 12 horse-and-rider teams from the United States and Canada competing for a $7,000 first-place prize and the coveted Stampede buckle.
"I did better in the first round than I did in the second," Redden said. "After the third round, I just wanted to make the top 10. That was my goal when I went up there."
Redden earned his invitation to the Cowboy Up Challenge by ranking among the top 15 EXCA riders in the world. Last November he finished fifth at the EXCA World Championship in Topeka, Kan., and he's already looking ahead to this year's event in Guthrie, Okla.
"Among the top six (finishers at the Cowboy Up Challenge), I'm the only one that has an 8-5 job," Redden said. "The rest are full-time cowboys or horse trainers."
As hardscape supervisor in Northwest's Office of Environmental Services, Redden works in the grounds shop and oversees repairs to sidewalks, streets and parking lots.
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468