May 25, 2012

Earl Thode - World Champion Bronc Rider

Another great rodeo photograph of first World Champion Saddle Bronc rider (1929) Earl Thode - who grew up on the old Thode place where I now ranch. This was shot from a film presentation at the Casey Tibbs Museum in Ft. Pierre, South Dakota. Here it is noted that he developed the upright shoulder-spurring style used to this day in the saddle bronc event. Another local World Champion bronc rider is Jeff Willert (2005) who will be riding in the Casey Tibb's Match of Champions in Ft. Pierre next weekend. Pretty great to have two world champions from the very tiny South Dakota town of Belvidere ... South Dakota raises great bronc riders.

Earl Thode also participated in bull dogging and roping events and above is a shot from the ranch of his car and horse ready to hit the road to the next rodeo - wooden wheels and all. The Thode family house behind still stands and is where I get to camp when working on the ranch - in the south end bunkhouse room where many a cowboy slept. (thanks to Earl's sister, Mildred Thode Sleep, for this photograph). I think of it often as I cross this spot daily and feel the presence of the past and wondering what it was all like way back then. ©JEAN LAUGHTON