Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler won the iconic California Rodeo Salinas July 24 with a time of 47.4 seconds on five head, worth $10,606 a man for their efforts.
And winning Salinas didn’t just up Richard and Buhler’s cowboy creed. It put Richard, 33, of Roosevelt, Utah, fourth in the world with $87,491.03 won, and it put the 2016 World Champion Jeremy Buhler third with $87,370.24. That’s enough won to skate carefree into the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, as it’s already $25,000 ahead of what made the Top 15 cut in 2021. Richard made the Finals in the No. 10 spot with $71,544.76 last year, while Buhler was 12th with $68,814.98.
“This is the best year I’ve ever had,” Richard, who’s also been to the Finals twice in the tie-down, said. “We actually have a run now instead of just roping. I haven’t done it the last two weeks very well except at Salinas, I guess, but most of the time we stick to our deal and make our run, and if we draw good enough, we’ll win something.”
“It really was the opposite of what I grew up with,” said Buhler, 34, who grew up rodeoing in small Canadian hockey rinks around his Arrowwood, Alberta, home. “I feel like I’ve worked really hard at that setup. It’s the exact opposite of what I knew as a kid. I’m used to short scores, with the run happening fast. That old horse that I bought, he’s been the missing link. He’s pretty fast. I like that horse a lot. He fits that setup.”
That old horse is an 18-year-old gelding named Hoss—registered as Knight Robber Son by Knight Robber out of Petes Little Peppey—who came from Bucky and Jerroll Campbell.
“I feel like I can brag on him because I didn’t have anything to do with making him,” Buhler said. “He’s good at Pendleton, he’s good at Salinas and he’s good at the NFR, too. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”
Richard flipped the script and rode a 6-year-old, home-raised futurity-standout mare Rubys Rollin at her first rodeo for Salinas’ tough setup. At the five-steer rodeo, both header and heeler come out of the head box on a 35-foot score with hard-running, strong cattle. And given that Richard and Buhler have been duking it out on fast setups all summer, Richard decided his regular rodeo horses might not do the trick five times in a row in the same setup.
“She’s probably won about $25,000 between the Royal Crowns and the American Rope Horse Futurities,” Richard said. “But Salinas was my first time backing her in there and asking her for everything she had in the tank. My older brown horse is 19, and he could get sore if he did five in a row at Salinas. The other horse of mine is pretty finicky. If I get him running that hard to the cow, it will take me two weeks to get him backed back off. He’s too free rolling. She’s truly the best for that setup.”
“I thought it was a really good game plan he had,” Buhler added. “She’s a great horse that can really run. She seemed to fit the setup really good.”
She was tested early into the week at Salinas with a strong first two steers to keep them in the game, and they were able to capitalize on their third steer to win fourth in the go-round with an 8.4-second run. They got by another strong one on their fourth steer, and they came back second call to the Sunday short round.
“I thought we were a little bit off the pace at the start of the rodeo, so I wasn’t too nervous,” Buhler said. “But then by the end, we were second call and I was pretty nervous, because Salinas is just one of those rodeos you want to win.”
Richard and Buhler have 33 rodeos in (of the 75 they can count) and will take a few days off in early August to prepare for the Royal Crown Futurity in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Aug. 8-14. Richard plans to show a 4-year-old, five horses in the 6-and-under and two heel horses. Buhler will help him, and he’ll also show the 2016 stallion Big Shine In Cowtown.
“We’re also trying to get my Canadian rodeo count in, so we’ll go up there before the season is over, too” Richard said. “Jeremy is winning it, and I’m right up there with him but I’ve only been to five rodeos.”
“The Canadian Finals are a big priority to me,” Buhler added. “It’s still my home up there. I love the Canadian Finals, and I love rodeoing in Canada.”
California Rodeo Salinas Team Roping Results
First round: 1. Jr. Dees/Levi Lord, 7.2 seconds, $2,581 each; 2. Brenten Hall/Chase Tryan, 8.2, $2,244; 3. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 8.3, $1,908; 4. Kreece Thompson/Chad Williams, 8.5, $1,571; 5. Erich Rogers/Paden Bray, 8.6, $1,234; 6. Blake Teixeira/Brandon Bates, 8.7, $898; 7. Cutter Machado/Dalton Pearce, 8.8, $561; 8. Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 8.9, $224.
Second round: 1. Tanner James/Jace Helton, 7.8 seconds, $2,581 each; 2. (tie) Marcus Battaglia/Jason Johe and Nick Sartain/Austin Rogers, 7.9, $2,076 each; 4. Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 8.2, $1,571; 5. Luke Brown/Hunter Koch, 8.5, $1,234; 6. D.J. Parker/Jared Hixon, 8.6, $898; 7. Chad Masters/Paul Eaves, 9.0, $561; 8. Brayden Schmidt/Kyle Lockett, 9.1, $224.
Third round: 1. Tyler Waters/Matt Sherwood, 7.8 seconds, $2,581 each; 2. (tie) Manny Egusquiza Jr./Jason Duby and Spencer Mitchell/Walt Woodard, 8.0, $2,244 each; 3. Zach Kilgus/Jake Edwards, 8.3, $1,908; 4. Rhen Richard/Jeremy Buhler, 8.4, $1,571; 5. Andy Holcomb/Tyler Pearson, 8.5, $1,234; 6. Nick Sartain/Austin Rogers, 8.6, $898; 7. Erich Rogers/Paden Bray, 8.8, $561; 8. Chad Masters/Paul Eaves, 8.9, $224.
Fourth round: 1. Brenten Hall/Chase Tryan, 6.7 seconds, $2,581 each; 2. Jake Cooper/Sid Sporer, 7.6, $2,244; 3. Coy Rahlmann/Douglas Rich, 7.7, $1,908; 4. (tie) Kolton Schmidt/Cole Davison and Marcus Theriot/Cole Curry, 8.1, $1,403 each; 6. Lightning Aguilera/Coleby Payne, 8.4, $898; 7. Joshua Torres/Jonathan Torres, 8.5, $561; 8. (tie) Pedro Egurrola/JC Flake, Andy Holcomb/Tyler Pearson and Cooper White/Tucker White, 8.7, $75 each. F
inals: 1. (tie) Dawson Graham/Dillon Graham and Rhen Richard/Jeremy Buhler, 8.4 seconds, $1,292 each; 3. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 8.9, $926; 4. Blake Teixeira/Brandon Bates, 10.0, $683; 5. Reno Stoebner/Tyler McKnight, 10.1, $439; 6. Adam Rose/Cooper Freeman, 10.5, $244.
Average: 1. Rhen Richard/Jeremy Buhler, 47.4 seconds on five head, $7,743 each; 2. Adam Rose/Cooper Freeman, 50.0, $6,733; 3. Blake Teixeira/Brandon Bates, 50.4, $5,723; 4. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira, 52.4, $4,713; 5. Reno Stoebner/Tyler McKnight, 52.8, $3,703; 6. Dawson Graham/Dillon Graham, 53.9, $2,693; 7. Clint Summers/Ross Ashford, 55.0, $1,683; 8. Tanner Tomlinson/Patrick Smith, 56.4, $673.