Permit Members Challenge: Reed Neely – Saddle Bronc Champion

by Siri Stevens

When it looked like the Permit Finals Challenge wasn’t going to happen as part of the 2020 WNFR, Debbie Neely started working her magic. “We’ve been at every one of the Benny Binion’s-Bucking Horse/Bull Sale since it started in 1996,” said Debbie, mother of the saddle bronc permit challenge champion. This is the 11th year for the permit challenge finals. “We’ve watched many of those contestants move into the pros.”

She kept waiting for the announcement for either the Benny Binion Sale or the Permit Finals. “We were told it wasn’t feasible given the logistics of getting stock in and out, plus the number of other events happening at the coliseum,” she said. “I made it my personal campaign to get change that – I got all the eligible contestants and asked them to contact the PRCA about the Permit Challenge.” It was finally agreed that the Permit Finals Challenge would happen. The next obstacle to get over was getting the stock. “I found a stock contractor – Pete Carr, Carr Pro Rodeo – and they stepped up and brought their best.”  Between Debbie, Mr. Taylor, and Mr. Carr a date was found to put the event on. “I got the finalization on October 27th both on the added money, stock, and date (December 9) – we had less than two hours to get the event done.”

Her son, Reed, won the saddle bronc riding. “My dad (Jeff) rode bareback horses, and my mom did barrel racing and made me do all the events for pee wee. I started out with lead line; my mom would push me to ride by myself. I’m sure I did a lot of crying.”

He competed in Western pleasure, trail, and all the western events. “I was just happy to get a snow cone at the end of the day – I didn’t care what was going on.” He quit riding altogether for a few years, but  got started again under Adam Gray (6x NFR tie down qualifier) and it went from there. Somewhere along the way, he found a pair of his dad’s chaps and wanted to ride broncs, but his parents wouldn’t let him get on until he was about 16.

He made National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Gallup, New Mexico, in 2013 in the breakaway roping in 8th grade. “We’d do roping and chute dogging, and goat tying. Once I got into high school, I competed in team roping and calf roping; when I was a sophomore I started riding broncs. I started with Rocky Steagall – an NFR judge that made the finals a bunch (5x NFR qualifier). My dad helped me too – and we had a lot of family friends that helped as well.”

“When Reed showed interest in riding broncs, his dad put in an arena. Once he fell in love with bronc riding, it gave him something to concentrate on,” said Rocky. “He’s got a great support team.”

When he was a senior, he went to George Veater to get some help. “He’s got a really nice bucking machine that I drive up to use and a lot of really nice bucking horses.”  George has been a family friend for 30 years and is a former bronc rider.

“Reed’s a great young man with a lot of talent, it’s a pleasure to have him around,” said George, who ranches north of Fresno, California. “I have about 20 bucking horses and have started a breeding program. “I’ve been involved in the sport of rodeo for several years.” He’s been a California Circuit Final Champion, CCRA Champion, and National Senior Pro in 2007, and 2010. He has shared his talents with others. In 2017, Reed won fourth at the National High School Finals.  He also won the California Circuit Finals in 2019.

Reed is currently attending Fresno State. “I’ve got one year of school left; I’m majoring in Agriculture Communication.” He plans to see how well rodeo does for him, and maybe get into some public speaking. “I’ve announced some rodeos and given some speeches for classes.”

In the meantime, he’s busy with rodeo, school, and teaching horseback riding lessons. “I’ve learned that I did about 6 weeks of rodeoing across the country, and I learned that if you are going to start, you’d better have a sum of money or it won’t work. There are so many scenarios that go into play – and expenses.”

He enjoyed his time at the Fort Worth Stockyards. “It’s an amazing town; walking down the road and seeing steak houses everywhere and longhorns walking down the street – then you walk into the coliseum and riding in there.”

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