Every year the top cowboys and cowgirls in the world, vie for a chance to compete in December at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) in Las Vegas. To qualify, these elite athletes must be ranked amongst the top 15 money winners in their event, and will compete against one another for ten consecutive performances at a chance to be crowned a World Champion. This year, Justin Boots has ten team members, who have qualified to try to win under the bright lights of the Thomas and Mack. We are very proud of how these cowboys and cowgirls represent the brand in and outside of the arena. Each week leading up to the WNFR, we will feature two Justin qualifiers, so that our fans can get to know them a little better.
This week we're talking with Wes Stevenson:
Q: With 7 trips to the Vegas under your belt, you are becoming quite a veteran to the NFR experience. Does it ever get old? How has the NFR changed for you since you first qualified in 2002?
A year is 365 days, and guys that qualify for the NFR put in an effort to be there every single day. So, with that much going in to competing at the NFR it never gets old, for me. Every time I walk down the tunnel at the Thomas and Mack Arena and see the bareback horses loaded in their own individual stalls, waiting for the riders to come test there luck in the bright lights of the arena, chills run down my spine with anticipation. As I answer the question, my heart beats faster with excitement. Nevertheless, I do seem to enjoy the NFR experience more now than the first time I competed. I notice all the little things around me: first class event, the way people treat you, family and friends, good food, competing against the best bareback riders in the business and of course drawing 10 rank horses for 10 days in a row, to some all that up, "Smell the Roses".
Q: If you could draw any horse at the NFR which one would it be and why?
The one horse I want to get on at Vegas would be 5708 MGM Deuces Night. I was the first guy to get on her when she was 4 years old in the practice pen; man she bucked. I about killed myself jumping off of her at about 6 seconds to give her a confidence booster and let her think she won the fight. At Vegas I would not let her win the fight on purpose; I would either win the round or buck off trying. I can tell you one thing, if she bucks me off in the Thomas and Mack, there would be no one smiling any bigger and saying, "Man did you see that horse buck," than me.
Q: Tell us about the “Wolfpack”. How did the name originate?
The "Wolfpack" name came from Chad Klien when he was still rodeo'n. There were four of us which included Will Lowe, Tom McFarland, Royce Ford and myself. During the summer of 2004 there was not a group of guys that were having more fun or winning more money than our group, Chad came up at a rodeo and said, "You guys are like a pack of wolfs, ya'll don't leave scraps for anybody". So, the rest of the summer the name stuck as "Wolfpack". Royce, is not rodeo'n now so Caine Riddle has jumped in with us for the last couple of years. We don't call ourselves the Wolfpack, but if others do, I guess that just means we have been doing some wining.
Q: We can’t believe that Fiona is almost one! What has been some of the most exciting parts of being a new dad?
Fiona, like most little kids do for dads, make all the bad in the world disappear. When I play with her the rest of the world doesn't exist. She went with Francie and me this summer, and I know she doesn't know too much about the rodeo part but you could say like most rodeo kids, she is 'rodeo broke'. She sleeps in the truck, gets to the rodeo and plays with our rodeo family's kids, then the rodeo starts and she likes to take a nap.