TJ Thompson grew up on ranches in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon, on ranch places like ZX, YP, VX, MC, IL, YT and TS. He is currently the Cow Boss on the Kings River Ranch in Orovada, Nevada where he has been for the past fifteen years. The Kings River Ranch is in Humboldt County in Northern Nevada. TJ, his wife, Lacey and their three kids Hannah, Nate, Laura spend their days being cowboys and cowgirls. TJ also enjoys being a pickup man. “My grandfather was a rodeo stock contractor and I have been picking since I was 18. I really enjoy picking up the cowboys. I also rode broncs for thirty years which helps to know how to pick up,” he says.
This past July, during the 2019 WSRRA Harney County Ranch Rodeo, TJ a competitor and ranch bronc pick-up man, suffered a neck injury while picking up the ranch bronc riding, which he broke 3 vertebraes, C5, C6 and C7. “They call it a hangman break and usually you are left paralyzed or dead, but I am healing up” TJ explains. . “Brady made a good bronc ride, and TJ came in to help him off his horse. That’s when things began to go south. It all happened an instant, like 2, maybe 3 seconds. Brady’s spur hung up in his back billet as TJ was helping him off the horse. There was no time on either of their part to act or react. They both came off their horses. TJ was taken out of the arena by ambulance, and later flown to Boise where he was operated on. TJ had broken his neck, but his Guardian Angel was working overtime. They screwed C5, C6 and C7 together and he was up and walking today,” recalls Andi Harmon.
Traditions of helping others is a Cowboy Code that still lives on today. Helping your neighbor out might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for that one neighbor and this, my friends, is what TJ would like to do. You see, he is going to be giving out 100 percent of his proceeds from this year’s WSRRA Cowboy Crisis Silent Auction to Pat Stanford. “I feel fortunate that I can keep working, for a living and I know that Pat Stanford is fighting for his life with a blood switch for cancer. Pat deserved this more than me. I have looked up to Pat and I would like to pass on my funds to help him out on his battle,” states TJ.
**Editor note: Pat Stanford is from Jordan Valley, Oregon and has been our announcer of the WSRRA NFR since 2010. His distinctive style, sense of humor, and knowledge of ranch and rodeo has made him more than just the announcer, he is the voice of the finals. He has been fighting Hodgkins Lymphoma for twenty-three years. He is currently in Salt Lake City getting a blood treatment. “I have been at the finals every year of the past nine and plan on being there for the tenth. I really enjoy competing against my friends, the WSRRA finals is very competitive, but at the end of the day, we are still all friends but also better if check is in your pocket,” TJ says.
Joel is a 22 year old cowboy from Challis, Idaho. He rides a few colts and day works some in the off season. This season, he just rode ranch broncs. He traveled from Canada to Southern California. On August 30, Joel entered the 2nd Annual Buckin On The Prairie sanctioned event in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. “I had won the long go with a 79-point score, but right after the buzzer my horse came over backwards. I kicked my way out and landed on my back. I felt a little bit weird but sat down and waited for my short go horse. I saddled my bronc, climbed on and nodded but about 5 seconds in I lost all my strength and got bucked off!
From there I started puking nonstop so they hauled me to the ER and from there I got life flighted to Rapid City, South Dakota where I spent six days in the ICU trauma unit with a stage 5 lacerated kidney, a lacerated spleen and bad internal bleeding,” Joel says. Joel was in the hospital for 6 more days before he could head home. “I’m happy to be back home now an upright! I’ll be out for 6 months till I’m allowed to be horseback at all, so I’ve been focusing on healing an getting stronger. I lost 18 pounds in last couple of weeks, so I’ve been doing light workouts to get back in shape! I’d just like to thank the Good Lord for keeping me alive and am super thankful for all the prayers, calls and texts and support from people all over, thank you”
One thing about being involved in the WSRRA is the people that you meet and the opportunities that you get to do. Joel explains, “I enjoy WSRRA sanctioned ranch bronc ridings because it gives me and others an opportunity to go to rodeos with great added money and good ranch bronc stock. It also gives us all a chance to make a living riding ranch broncs!” “My favorite memory of all time is being 89 points on “Ryan” from the King Rodeo Company at the 2017 WSRRA NFR.”
Past recipients include Curt Casey, Guy Norcutt, George Michel, Fred Loomis, Les Dial, Randy McClure, Wade Korneman, Miles Binger, Arnold Fox III, Jim Gebauer, Clay Ashurst, Pat Stanford and Josh McKenzie.