It wasn’t just another day at the office for Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston.
But rather a chance to win his third world championship at the 10-round National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas last week in the saddle bronc riding competition.
He had been there before but this time was special because he had a chance to achieve something not many rodeo cowboys have done, win three NFR titles.
“Honestly, it feels awesome,” he said. “In my opinion, the Bronc riding is probably the hardest event to win a world title in just because there’s so many variables. There are not many guys who’ve got two and there is a very short list that’s got more than two so to have three of them that’s pretty cool.”
The 28-year-old won the world championship based on his total season earnings of $399,915.64, which was over $58,500 more than second-place Lefty Holman and over $60,500 more than Wildwood, Alta.’s Logan Hay.
“I drew some good horses but I still had to ride them and I just concentrated on the basics,” he said. “It’s a long 10 days and you can get ahead of yourself. I just take it one horse at a time and jump for jump.”
Thurston had a massive final round and posted his best score of the week of 89.5 to seal the deal. The cowboy was riding a horse named All or Nothin out of Texas, which Thurston admitted was a great horse to end the competition on.
The animal was not unfamiliar to Thurston who had ridden on the same horse in the 10th round of the NFR in 2021 where he placed third.
Thurston also won world titles in 2016 and in 2019. A month before his third NFR Championship, Thurston set a Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) record en route to his third Canadian championship.
On the final round of the CFR Thurston climbed aboard the award-winning horse OLS Tubs Get Smart and rode the animal to a CFR saddle bronc riding record of 93.25.
“That was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done to win all that in the last month and a half,” Thurston said. “The whole year I had a great year. I drew some really great horses and I won some really big rodeos. Coming into the finals I was prepared and I just felt like I rode really well and I ended up winning a lot.”