Bryce and Benny were supposed to be in Cottage Grove the day we met them in Pilomath, Oregon. However, Bryce got kicked in the head twice by a horse and, by all accounts, bled a lot.
Bryce Cronin and Benny Schenk are both steer wrestlers and members of the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association. The equine-inflicted gashes across Bryce’s forehead had occurred the previous evening, during the Friday night performance of the annual Pilomath Frolic and Rodeo, when the two had competed against each other.
During the season, the travel buddies drive miles and miles from rodeo to rodeo to compete, try to have some fun, and win some money. They are often accompanied by their significant others, whom we also met. They are also joined on the road by Pal, the palomino horse, and two dogs - a golden retriever puppy and an American bulldog. It is not unusual for the whole gang to travel nine hundred miles in a weekend. Their weekend traveling home is a long trailer that is split between three compartments - human living quarters with beds and kitchenette in the fore, tack room and horse stall in the rear.
Bryce was a former sniper in the United States Military and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. Now, when he’s not competing, he’s undergoing training to be a firefighter. Benny played football at Portland State University and now works in public health.
The two offered us cold beers. We cracked them open and listened to them talk about the difficulties of caring for the animals in hot weather, the challenges of paying for injuries, and the joys of seeing friends at the many rodeos and being able to discuss the typical characteristics of each steer amongst themselves. They talked about how steer wrestling is a little bit more collaborative in that way than, say, calf roping.
Hear more of their story in the audio interview below.