The Toughest Cowboy Tour, presented by Jägermeister, ended in February with the Finals in Columbus, Ohio, and Washington-turned-Wyoming cowboy Shane Proctor came away the winner.
The Toughest Cowboy format is unique in that the four finalists had to compete on six head of stock-two bareback horses, two saddle bronc horses and two bulls-all in the same night to determine the champion.
In addition to the iron glove trophy, Proctor won the Jäger Ranch, a 35-acre parcel of land outside of Pueblo, Colo.
"It is definitely a dream come true," said Proctor following his victory. "It is every cowboy's dream to own a piece of America and now I am the proud owner of Jäger Ranch."
It wasn't an easy route for Proctor in Columbus as he was pushed to the limit in both matches. In his first three-head match, he battled head-to-head with the third ranked cowboy Erik Wolford of Clinton, Mich. Proctor jumped out to an all-important 2-0 lead after winning the bareback and saddle bronc riding. Proctor scored 78 points in the bareback riding compared to Wolford's 76, and in the saddle bronc riding Proctor tallied 86 points, while Wolford finished with 84 points.
With the format of Toughest Cowboy, those two wins guaranteed Proctor a spot in the final head-to-head match no matter the outcome in the bull riding and total points category. The best Wolford could do at this point was tie Proctor. In this case, the tiebreaker rule reverts back to the overall points collected in the Playoffs, and Proctor tallied five more points than Wolford had, so Proctor advanced to the final round.
The Proctor-Wolford match ended with Wolford scoring a season best 89-point ride in the bull riding, giving him a total of 249 points, while Proctor posted 80 points, bringing his total to 244. Wolford picked up the win in the bull riding and total points for the match, tying him with Proctor, but the result of the tiebreaker ended his hopes of owning Jäger Ranch.
"My hat's off to Erik for a great match and luckily for me the tiebreaker went in my favor," said Proctor following his semi-final match of the night.
The other semi-final match of the night pitted Chad Eubank of Cleburne, Texas, against Trey Broussard of Estherwood, La. Eubank, who knocked off the season leader Bandy Murphy in the Playoffs, faced another tough challenge in Broussard, who was the 2007 Toughest Cowboy reserve champion.
With about 20 family members in the stands, Broussard had his eyes on the final round, and he proved that in his match against Eubank. Broussard swept the match after edging Eubank by two points in the bareback riding, five points in the saddle bronc riding and then 16 points in the bull riding. Broussard advanced to face Proctor for the title, while Eubank matched Wolford in the consolation round.
It was a see-saw match between Broussard and Proctor for the title. Proctor got the first "W" after outscoring Brossard by seven points in the bareback riding. However, Broussard got revenge in the saddle bronc riding after Proctor was thrown to the ground well before the eight-second whistle.
With the score tied 1-1, the whole season came down to one eight-second bull ride for both cowboys. Whichever cowboy won the bull riding would not only be crowned the 2008 Toughest Cowboy Champion but would also win the deed to Jäger Ranch. In a dramatic photo finish, it was Proctor edging Broussard by four points.
"Tonight there were a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but I am glad it ended on the upside for me," Proctor said. "This is definitely the highlight of my career. I am so happy to own a piece of America and I plan to be back next year to defend my title and see if I can win a spread right next to this one."