Dodge City relies on Frontier

Ted Harbin
Special to The Globe

In just his second year as the primary livestock producer at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, Frontier Rodeo frontman Heath Stewart has much to live up to this summer.

A year ago, Roundup fans saw amazing scores all week long, thanks in large part to Stewart and other stock contractors who were part of the Dodge City experience. Three-time world champion Will Lowe won the first round of bareback riding with a 90, and Steven Dent won the short round with an 89.

In saddle bronc riding, Rusty Wright posted big scores all week, matching moves with Frontier’s Let ’Er Rip for 90 points to win the first round; he followed that with a 92 on Frontier’s Big News to win the championship round, the two-ride aggregate and more than $7,100 in southwest Kansas.

Expect nothing less at this year’s Roundup Rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, through Sunday, Aug. 2, at Roundup Arena. Dodge City Xtreme Bulls is set for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 28.

“We were thrilled at the way things went last year with Frontier Rodeo leading the charge,” said R.C. Trotter, president of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event. “It was a flawless transition from what we’ve had for decades because Frontier has been part of our rodeo for several years.

“Of course, you can’t really go wrong when you’ve got the best stock contractor in rodeo.”

The recognition is more than one man’s opinion, though. Frontier Rodeo has been the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Stock Contractor of the Year each of the past five seasons. It goes beyond what happens in Dodge City, though that’s a big part of it. Roundup Rodeo is recognized as one of the best in North America, and Frontier’s top animals perform in southwest Kansas each summer.

It also was named the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association’s top stock contractor a year ago; because the vote is made up of the women in ProRodeo, the honor is a reflection of Frontier’s dedication to producing not only high-quality entertainment but also world-class competition.

Eighteen Frontier animals were selected to perform at the 2019 NFR, which was the most of any stock contractor in the game. Animals from the Freedom, Okla.-based firm helped cowboys to three go-round wins. The contestants know the opportunities to catch fast cash come with Frontier livestock.

“The horses are going to give you every chance to win a pile of money,” said bareback rider Orin Larsen, a five-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier who finished second in the world standings last season. “What Heath and Frontier will bring is the A team, and that’s a bunch of buckers. I’ve been fortunate enough to have won a bunch of money on a lot of Frontier horses.”

He’s been joined by countless other cowboys along the way, and it’s happened inside Roundup Arena. Over the last decade, Frontier animals have been named the best in the game seven times: Medicine Woman is a four-time Saddle Bronc of the Year; Maple Leaf was the 2013 Saddle Bronc of the Year; and Full Baggage has twice been named Bareback Horse of the Year.