Zeke Thurston captures first Miles City (Mont.) Bucking Horse Sale Xtreme Broncs title


It remains incongruous. Zeke Thurston competes in a sport that races the heartbeat, forces confrontations with danger and leaves the body in peril. When it comes to riding saddle bronc horses, no one did it better than the world champion. Yet when he talks about his success, he is calmer than a lagoon.


On May 21, he discussed a triumphant ride on Burch Rodeo’s Lunatic From Hell like he was reading off a grocery list. This is what has made him one of the best.


“I just try to keep a pretty cool head and focus on my job,” Thurston said.


At the World Famous Miles City (Mont.) Bucking Horse Sale Matched Xtreme Bronc Ride, Thurston delivered a 91-point ride in the finals to secure the title. It proved the perfect match of poise and horse – Lunatic From Hell has been ridden by the event champion in five of the last six years.


And the one year he didn’t win it, he was part of a re-ride. So, five out of six?


“That’s a pretty good average for a horse. It was a really good ride,” Thurston said. “He kind of bailed out of there and had a really good day. He stayed with it. I have been on that horse a few times prior. So, I knew about him, but it was like five-to-six years ago, so it’s been a while.”


Thurston’s 91-point trip was enough to edge Sage Newman (89.5 points) for the title in Montana. Winning is a habit for Thurston. The Alberta cowboy owns a resume that widens eyes even among stars. He has claimed three PRCA World Championships (2016, 2019, 2022) and qualified for the National Finals Rodeo eight times. Events like this just fuel his fire.


“The Xtreme events are really cool. It’s a real sporty event: 30 of the best guys in the world getting on great bucking horses. It’s good watching,” Thurston said. “It was really good. There were people everywhere cheering.”


Up next is a first-time Xtreme Broncs event in Palmer, Alaska. It’s a new event, but Thurston has a plan to post the same old results.


“It will be more of the same. I want to keep the ball rolling,” Thurston said, “and keep doing what we are doing.”

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