SAN ANGELO, Texas – By Ted Harbin – Craig at Midnight is big and powerful. He stands at least 16 hands tall and weighs in excess of 1,800 pounds, and he’s the reigning Bareback Horse of the Year.
On Saturday night at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, the athletic gray horse guided Austin Foss to an 89-point ride and the bareback riding lead through seven performances. It was the perfect horse at the perfect place for Foss, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Terrebonne, Ore.
“When I saw his name next to mine (earlier this week when the draw was released), I just about dropped my phone,” he said. “It was a good feeling.”
Foss has had great success inside San Angelo Coliseum before. Two years ago, he won both rounds to claim the bareback riding title. He earned more than $11,000 then, and that was one of the many events that earned him his third straight trip to Las Vegas and ProRodeo’s grand finale.
“I got a really good feeling when that horse was coming in to the chutes,” Foss said. “He’s a lot more level-headed than the last time I got on him, and I’m not hurting like I was back then.”
Their last meeting occurred at the 2013 NFR, and Craig at Midnight bucked off an ailing Foss, who was struggling with a herniated disc in his neck. The cowboy was forced to miss the final two rounds because of his injury.
That wasn’t the case Saturday.
“He bucked me off after the whistle, but we made it through,” Foss said. “He was really good tonight.”
What makes the powerful gray so good? Foss said the horse is considered an eliminator because he’s so difficult to ride. Sometimes those horses have some nasty moves with their bucking motion. Sometimes they just overpower their rider.
“He just bucks,” he said. “He just turns out of there and is so big, and he goes at it. He was pretty decent to ride tonight. He had just a few bumps to him, but I was able to manage them OK.”
After sitting out the 2016 season, Foss is excited to be back on the ProRodeo trail. He is 45th in the world standings, but a strong performance in San Angelo can go a long ways in pushing him up the money list.
“Having his name net to mine is a rung on the ladder for me,” Foss said. “It was a good feeling, and it gives you incentive to do your best and try your hardest. The long-term opportunity out there is something that can really catapult a guy right up there in the top 15 in the standings.
“My confidence is really good, especially after that ride. Being able to ride a horse like that definitely shoots a guy’s confidence through the roof.”
It worked two years ago, so he has no reason to doubt that it can happen again.
San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo
Feb. 3-5, Feb. 10-12, Feb. 15-17
Bareback riding leaders: 1. Austin Foss, 89 points on Powder River Rodeo’s Craig at Midnight; 2. (tie) Devan Reilly, Tyler Nelson and Ty Breuer, 86 points each; 5. Kelly Timberman, 85; 6. Clint Laye, 81; 7. (tie) Jamie Howlett and Casey Breuer, 80 each.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. (tie) Tyler Waguespack and Dakota Eldridge, 3.3 seconds each; 3. (tie) Ty Erickson, Blake Knowles, Luke Branquinho and Justen Notes, 3.5 each; 7. Stephen Culling, 3.6; 8. (tie) Baylor Roche and Justin Shaffer, 3.7 each. Second round leaders: 1. David Hinman, 3.3 seconds; 2. (tie) Baylor Roche, Dirk Tavenner and Josh Peek, 3.5 each; 5. (tie) Timmy Sparring, Clayton Hass, Nick Guy Todd Suhn and Rowdy Thomas, 3.6 each. Average leaders: 1. Tyler Waguespack, 7.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Baylor Roche, 7.2; 3. Todd Suhn, 7.4; 4. (tie) Josh Peek and Blake Knowles, 7.7 each; 6. (tie) Kyle Whitaker and Cooper Shofner, 7.9 each; 8. (tie) Nick Guy, Dakota Eldridge, David Hinman and Dakota Champion, 8.0 each; 12. (tie) Dirk Tavenner and Ty Erickson, 8.1 each.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Erich Rogers/Cory Petska, 3.8 seconds; 2. JoJo LeMond/Quinn Kesler, 4.1; 3. Bart Brunson/Trace Porter, 4.2; 4. Chad Masters/Travis Graves, 4.3; 5. (tie) Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz and Charly Crawford/Joseph Harrison, 4.5 each; 7. (tie) Shawn Besette/Sid Sporer, Tate Kirchenschlager/Trevor Kirchenschlager and Cole Markham/Nick Simmons, 4.6. Second round leaders: 1. Derrick Begay/Clay O’Brien Cooper, 3.9 seconds; 2. (tie) Caleb Smidt/B.J. Dugger and Matt Sherwood/Joel Bach, 4.1 each; 4. Brett Stuart/Wesley Moss, 4.2; 5. John Alley/Clark Adcock, 4.3; 6. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 4.4; 7. (tie) Zac Small/Will Woodfin, Travis Tryan/Chase Tryan and Luke Brown/Jake Long, 4.5. Average leaders: 1. Tate Kirchenschlager/Trevor Kirchenschlager, 9.8 seconds on two runs; 2. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 9.9 seconds; 3. Chase Massengill/Kory Bramwell, 10.1; 4. Clayton Van Aken/Shawn Darnall, 10.3; 5. Seth Hall/Byron Wilkerson, 10.6; 6. Dustin Bird/Russell Cardoza, 10.9; 7. Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 13.3; 8. Caleb Smidt/B.J. Dugger, 13.4.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Ryder Wright, 81 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Pendleton Whisky Django; 2. (tie) Magin Lane Montoya, Dalton Davis, Isaac Diaz and Layton Green, 80 each; 6. Zeke Thurston, 78.5; 7. (tie) Jacobs Crawley and Chuck Schmidt, 78.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. (tie) Michael Otero and Tuf Cooper, 7.0 seconds each; 3. Darnell Johnson, 7.5; 4. (tie) Marty Yates, Hunter Herrin, Cade Swor, Catfish Brown and Tyler Milligan, 7.6 each. Second round leaders: 1. Cody Quaney, 7.0 seconds; 2. Justin Smith, 7.1; 3. (tie) Scott Kormos and Tim Pharr, 7.3 each; 5. (tie) J.C. Malone and Lane Livingston, 7.4 each; 7. (tie) Blane Cox, Seth Cooke and Trinton Downing, 7.5 each. Average leaders: 1. Cody Quaney, 14.8 seconds on two runs; 2. Tuf Cooper, 15.0; 3. Clint Singleton, 15.8; 4. Cooper Martin, 16.1; 5. (tie) Cade Swor, Clint Robinson and Cimarron Boardman, 16.2 each; 8. Catfish Brown, 16.3.
Barrel racing: Second round leaders: 1. Cassie Mowry, 14.20 seconds; 2. Laura Kennedy, 14.24; 3. Lindsay Sears, 14.24; 4. Jennifer Arnold, 14.35; 5. Kelsey Lutjen, 14.38; 6. (tie) Cassidy Kruse and Carmel Wright, 14.39 each; 8. Shelby McCauley, 14.40; 9. Brooke Jeter, 14.42; 10. Morgan Breaux, 14.43. Average leaders: 1. Kassie Mowry, 30.15 seconds on two runs; 2. Carmel Wright, 30.23; 3. Morgan Breaux, 30.44; 4. Shelby McCauley, 30.53; 5. Kelsy Lutjen, 30.68; 6. (tie) Ericka Nelson and Samantha Boone, 30.69 each; 8. (tie) Jennifer Arnold and Rainy Robinson, 30.74 each; 10. Cassidy Kruse, 30.78; 11. Laura Kennedy, 30.80; 12. Meghan Johnspon, 30.81.
Bull riding leaders: 1. Trey Benton III, 88.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Red Rocket; 2. Brennon Eldred, 87.5; 3. (tie) Jordan Hansen and Mickey Andrews, 85 each; 5. (tie) Kyle Balls and Jordan Wacey Spears, 84 each; 7. Brock Radford, 83.5; 8. (tie) Tanner Learmont and John Pitts, 83 each.