SOUTH Australian cowboy Tom Willoughby could easily wear the title “the strong man of rodeo” as he competes in five events in the Australian Professional Rodeo Association.
After the first two months of the new APRA season, Willoughby is in third position in the all around standings behind Emerald rider Shane Kenny and Yass cowboy Clay Bush.
Willoughby qualified for three events at the Warwick Rodeo APRA National Finals in October. He was in the finals of the bareback bronc ride, rope and tie and steer wrestling.
Willoughby also competes in the bull ride and team roping so has a realistic chance to qualify for national finals in five events, something that happened more in the early days of rodeo in Australia.
At the beginning of December, Willoughby was third in the bareback, fourth in steer wrestling and sixth in the bull ride standings. He has also started a new role as protection clown in the bull ride.
One of his early appearances as a protection clown was in December, 2017, at the Carrieton Rodeo in South Australia.
It is rare for cowboys to compete in rough stock and timed events and even rarer to be in five events in the one season.
There are three rodeos to go in the Christmas Run, Finley (NSW) on January 4, Wangaratta (Victoria) on January 5 and at the K Ranch Rodeo at Mt Hunter, NSW on January 6.
The K Ranch Christmas Rodeo in November was well supported with Bush and Kenny two of the stars. Bush won the rope and tie in 8.85 seconds from current champion Mitch Eastwell, of Warwick. Kenny was third.
Victorian and former Queensland rider Lee Kimber won the steer wrestling in 6.35 seconds from Kenny.
In team roping, Bush and Kenny were the winners. K Ranch is one of many rodeos where the cowboys can enter in two separate teams in team roping.
Kenny took advantage of the two entries rule to finish second in team roping in combination with Kimber.
Kimber was also in fourth place after combining with his partner Cherie O’Donoghue.
O’Donoghue made the trip from Victoria more successful when she finished third in the barrel race.
After the Christmas Run, the busiest times with multiple rodeos will be the Victorian long weekend in March, Easter in the southern states and Queensland and the Northern Run in Queensland from late June to early August.