By: Brittany Bevis
It’s generally a pretty rare occurrence when the horse show world and the rodeo rough stock scene collide. However, when they do, we find that an equestrian’s talent, knowledge, and expertise generally transfer, regardless of the type of event.
Last week, we introduced you to Charlie Cole and Jason Martin’s barrel racing stallion, Slick By Design, who has found great success this year entering the National Finals Rodeo competition in the third spot in world standings with Michelle McLeod in the saddle. Now, another one of our horse show regulars has found their way into the winner’s circle during the first few rounds of competition.
Tom and Leslie Lange are not only the owners and operators of the highly successful T&L Quarter Horses in Colorado, they have a considerable stake in the rodeo industry as well. Just a few nights ago, during the sixth round of competition, their bull, “Wild Eyes,” took the first place spot with a score of 88 with cowboy Trevor Kastner aboard. The same bull bucked well in the first round of competition, with Chandler Bownds aboard, and scored a 87.5 to take second place.
“We own a PRCA [Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association] rodeo company,” Leslie Lange says. “We bought the rodeo company six years ago. The Flying Diamond Rodeo Company is ours, and we are partners with Mike Corey in the Corey and Lange Rodeo Company. We’ve had a bull at the NFR every year since we’ve owned the company. I believe this is our sixth rodeo season.”
Although this might seem like a big departure from Lange’s typical specialities of trail, western riding, and hunter under saddle, she actually has a pretty rough “stock” background.
“I actually grew up on a ranch, and my younger days were spent at the rodeo,” she says. “My dad was a team roper, so I’ve been around this side of things for a while. I judged Miss Rodeo America in 2007 and just reemerged back into it.”
“We got involved in a conglomerate that bought into a little herd of bulls in the PBR with people like JR Reichert and Wayne Holt. A whole group of horse people had the chance to buy into a share of what they called the Western Group. We started going to some of the PBR events. Kind of by chance, we were at the NFR, and Mike Corey, who owns a lot of bulls, made mention that there was a rodeo company for sale. Long story short, we got a wild hair and bought it. The ranch belonged to Frank Beard up in Ellensburg, Washington.”
Lange explains that the requirements needed to fulfill the definition of being a PRCA stock contractor include having 25 bulls, 25 bucking horses, and 25 saddle broncs. At this year’s NFR, four of Lange’s bulls and one horse are participating in the competition.
Another requirement is that Lange must host two rodeos a year with a certain level of guaranteed purse offered to competitors.
“You don’t have to worry about any timed event cattle, but, as a PRCA stock contractor, you have to put on two rodeos a year and contract out the timed event cattle. It’s a fairly substantial investment. You work with the rodeo committee to provide pick-up men and specialty acts. The contract varies with each event.”
With a bare minimum of 75 rodeo animals, in addition to the partnership with Corey and the horses that reside under the umbrella of T&L Quarter Horses, that means just one thing. There are definitely a lot of mouths to feed.
“We bought an existing company, so we bought all of their livestock and we bought trucks and trailers,” she says. “Over six years, we have changed the complexity of the animals. Some of the older ones have been put into the breeding program. Then, we partnered up with Mike, who has an extensive bull breeding program, and we’ve improved the quality of our horses quite a bit. We’ve had animals at the Calgary Stampede, which is exciting because it’s an invitation only event. We’ve been to Reno, Nevada; the Sisters Rodeo in Oregon; the Pendleton Round-up; Spokane, Washington; St. Paul, Oregon; Salinas, California; and Puyallup, Washington, to name a few of the events where we provide stock.”
With Lange’s prior obligations with AQHA, NSBA, and being president of her state Quarter Horse Association, she won’t be able to make it down to the NFR this year. However, her husband Tom has been in Las Vegas for every go-round and attended the PRCA Convention. They are anxiously awaiting the remaining rounds to see if Wild Eyes, or one of their other animals, can pull out an impressive performance.
“As a stock contractor, you want an animal, whether its a horse or a bull, that bucks really good and gives the cowboy that’s riding it a chance to win, if he stays on,” she says. “When you go to the NFR, part of the winnings for the round is to go to the buckle presentation where both the cowboy and the owner get a buckle. It’s pretty coveted at the NFR.”
Although finding a horse that bucks hard is pretty much exactly the opposite of what Lange looks for in her normal day-to day operations at T&L Quarter Horses, she and her husband Tom have found a way to merge these disparate disciplines seamlessly, staying at the top of their game in both.