BOZEMAN — The National High School Finals Rodeo is taking place this weekend in Rock Springs, Wyo., and Bozeman’s Brice Patterson will be one of the many representing the state of Montana.
“It’s the biggest rodeo in the world. There are kids from every state, every age, every skill level,” said Patterson. “It’s insane. A week full of rodeo going morning and night.”
Patterson is one of the cowboys to watch for, as he won two titles at the Montana High School Rodeo Finals in Baker — one in bareback riding and the other in the all-around.
“I just felt determined. (I) knew that I wanted to go in there and win the all-around, win the bareback and gave it 110 percent each day we were rodeoing, and I guess came home with both the saddles in the all-around and bareback title,” Patterson said.
He wasn’t stopping there. Last week during Cowboy Christmas, Patterson took first in bareback at the Ennis Rodeo with an 82-point ride. A day later on July 4, he went to Choteau for the same event and won that competition, as well, topping the field with a 78-point ride. And Patterson says the pro rodeo circuit is perfect practice for nationals.
“Those rodeos are a great opportunity to get on excellent stock, a great opportunity to be surrounded by tons of people,” said Patterson. “And being able to go to some of those rodeos, stands are packed and you can hear people cheering, you’re on a good horse or you’re competing with a good calf or steer, it’s incredible.”
Already making waves in the pro circuit as just a junior in high school, Patterson trains on his family’s farm in Bozeman. He even has his own mechanical bucking machine that he uses to simulate saddle and bareback riding.
But come Sunday in Rock Springs, Patterson will hop on a real horse and he has to bring his A-game.
“You have to prove it. When they call your name to go out in that arena and compete, you got to prove that this is how you separate yourself,” he said. “You got to prove that you’re from Oklahoma, you’re from Montana, you’re from Idaho. I’m the No. 1. I’m here to compete and that’s what I’m here to do.”
For one of the most promising young cowboys in the Treasure State, his goal goes well beyond winning at nationals.
“I want my poster and my face to be on some little kid’s room, that’s my goal. I want him to be like, ‘That’s who I want to be when I get older.’ That’s my only goal,” said a determined Patterson.
As for the cowboy he looks up to, it’s Melstone’s JR Vezain, who is a personal friend of his family. Patterson says Vezain has taught him so much about the sport and even has given him some top-notch equipment that would otherwise be out of his budget.
Patterson will continue to chase his pro rodeo dreams. After nationals, he will be competing in a handful of NRA events over the summer and will compete at Frontier Days this year in Cheyenne, Wyo.