Jeremy Buhler has quietly roped his way back into contention for another world team roping title. The Canadian cowboy won both the world championship and Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average with countryman Levi Simpson at his first Finals in 2016. He’s headed back to The Show in December, this time heeling for Rhen Richard and riding a cool old campaigner he calls Hoss.
Buhler, who’s 35, bought Hoss, who’s 19, from fellow NFR heelers Bucky and BJ Campbell’s dad, Jeroll, in June of 2021. To be clear here, Buhler has three sorrel heel horses in his trailer today. Backing up Hoss is Pork Chop, who’s 12 and gets a lot of the runs up in Canada. Then there’s Splinter, who’s just 7 and comes in situationally handy on both sides of the border.
But Hoss, whose registered name is Knight Robber Son, is numero uno as of now.
“Hoss is the more high-powered one,” said Buhler, who makes his home in Arrowwood, Alberta, with his wife, Katie; the Buhlers are expecting their first baby, a boy, this month. “I ride him at the longer set-ups, and at the NFR, too. Hoss really shines when the steers are strong.”
Buhler’s been to Rodeo’s Super Bowl four times now, in 2016-17 and 2021-22. Hoss is the horse he rode in Vegas last December, where Richard and Buhler won Rounds 9 and 10, among other checks, and earned $79,175 a man. There’s a reason Hoss shines on strong steers. At 15.2 hands and 1,200-plus pounds, he’s a big old bruiser who’s aptly named.
“Hoss is bigger than most head horses,” Buhler grinned from behind his world-famous beard.
The 2021 transaction on Hoss was classic Campbell.
“Rhen and I flew to Redmond (Oregon) that spring, and I mounted out on Hoss there,” Buhler remembers. “He felt like the best horse I’ve ever ridden on that run. He was awesome. I told Bucky if they ever wanted to sell him, I’d be interested. Bucky said, ‘If you need him, just take him.’
“They sent Hoss to California with me, and I dropped him off on my way back home. I bought him that June, and picked him up on my way to Reno.”
Age is just a number for Buhler when it comes to this horse.
“Hoss is a 19-year-old that’s been heeled on the right way his whole life,” he said. “He gets the game. He’s really fast, and he’s really good at reading the play and separating at the right time. The first part of my career was about bringing along young horses. I was super unsure about Hoss’s age at first. But after buying Hoss, I’ll take an older horse every single time over a green one.
“Hoss might not be perfect in certain areas, but he’s very consistent. I know his strengths and weaknesses, and that he’s going to do the same thing no matter what. I’m not going to change his hole or weakness, but I know what he’s going to do. And that’s a good thing.”
Buhler surely wishes Hoss was 9 and not 19, right?
“Oh, 100%,” he said. “Hoss is just an old rodeo horse, and he’s a little bit herd-bound. He mothers up to the other horses in the rig. But he’s a really kind horse, and he’s so consistent in all conditions.
“Hoss is good at Reno, Salinas, Pendleton and the NFR. He does great everywhere, as long as the steers are going somewhere. But then again, Bucky rode him at (the fast track in) Nampa (Idaho); their two steers loped and he was great there, too.”
Hoss is the horse Buhler was riding when he and Rhen got the $50,000 booster shot at Houston earlier this year.
“Our year started out great,” Buhler said. “We won good all winter, even without Houston. Then we won second at Logandale (Nevada) and Clovis (California), so we had a really good spring, too. And Canada went pretty good. July was kind of quiet, but that’s just rodeo life for you.”
And Hoss is just a rodeo horse for you.
“They say Hoss foundered as a 2-year-old when he broke into the feed room and got into the grain,” Buhler said. “I keep up on his shoeing, but we don’t have to do anything special there. Hoss is rodeo-horse sound, and he’s all the way tough.”
How does Hoss compare to the other horse who brought Buhler to roping’s biggest stages?
“Hoss is the best horse I’ve ever had,” Buhler said. “Rick James, who was the dun horse with the frozen ears I won the world on, will always go down as another one of my favorites. Hoss is a lot more horse than Rick James, but I think I was a #7 heeler when I bought Rick James and he helped me go all the way. He was my start to finish, and was just a winner.”
Now that rodeo’s regular season is in the books, how high are Buhler’s hopes for a happy ending to 2023 come December?
“They’re high,” he said. “And Hoss has a lot to do with it. I think he’s great in the Thomas & Mack on bigger, stronger steers. He’s definitely a big advantage for me.” TRJ