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Horse Lovers Share Vision to Develop Native Bronc Riders

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When seeds are planted, Native roots grow.

Nearly four decades ago, two young people fell in love with bucking horses. Maybe they recognized a bit of themselves in the horses who lived in full expression of their fiery hearts, but even they couldn’t fully explain what exactly touched their souls. What is certain is that neither imagined the other’s existence, life or that the spirit of the horse was about to put them together with a shared vision of unity and purpose.

Phillip Whiteman Jr. and Lori Lee O’Harver see and work toward a better world for the Bronc Riding Nation. Their goal is to develop Native Champion Bronc Riders.

Lakota bronc riders Howard Hunter and Jesse Knight were legends in their time. They spoke to the O’Harver, who worked alongside them at the Beutler & Son Rodeo Company. Years later, O’Harver became dedicated to a project that would unite bronc riders of every nation under one brand; and tell the stories of each culture, each rider and the horsemen, who dedicate their lives to keeping the great bucking horse strong.

“The bronc riding community is founded on the principles of freedom, independence and wisdom,” said O’Harver. “The collective message of ‘unending try’, discipline and focus on achieving a goal goes further than the 8 second contest.”

“I contacted Phillip Whiteman, Jr. in 2011,” O’Harver said. ”I knew he was a spiritual leader, a horseman and a bronc riding champion, and felt he would have much to teach me about how to build proper foundations and how to move forward with creating this global, open association that would judge contests based on talent alone and provide the ability to travel to compete at high profile, lucrative events. I believe that feeling was divinely inspired.”

Phillip Whiteman was taken to Jim Brooks’ bronc riding school in 1978, and learned important lessons that guided his success. Whiteman won two Indian National Finals (INFR) bronc riding championships. To this day, Whiteman holds the record for the highest score in bronc ride in Indian rodeo. He won the open Northern Rodeo Association title twice, and in 1990, he was chosen as a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association contestant to tour Europe with legends like Jerome Robinson. When the arena dust settled on Helsinki, Finland, Whiteman was the tour champion, besting the legend of the day, Monty ‘Hawkeye’ Henson, with a 92 point score.
Whiteman sees Bronc Riding Nation’s vision as one that stands to unify and support other associations. It gives those organizations and members another level to aspire to, and creates an opportunity to win the hearts of horse lovers across the world.

“For Bronc Riding Nation, building the logo on the foundation of the medicine wheel is perfect,” said Whiteman. “It reminds us of our responsibility, while the horse reminds us of its gift to us all. The horse is colorblind. He doesn’t care about politics or if you’re a world champion. He brings us his best and challenges us to follow him.”

“When we connect with a horse, we reconnect with a spirit that lives in all of us. Bronc Riding Nation has a spirit all its own. It humbles me to be a part of that image,” Whiteman said.

From a press release.