The Last Ride
This was the 20thYear the Brent Thurman Memorial Bull Riding had been held. This was to be the last one. In addition to the Bull Riding, there was a Cowboy Reunion and Auction of Friday night with Jake Hooker and the outsiders. On Saturday it began with an Exceptional Rodeo, from 5:30 to 6:30, sponsored by the Brent Thurman Foundation for ‘Brent’s Kids’. The ‘kids’ could ride Bucky the Bull, rides horses, try roping, pet the ponies, and more. After the bull riding was over, there was a dance featuring The People’s Choice Band.
The bull riding was exciting, with 40 riders from all across Texas and two from Brazil. The bulls were provided by twelve different stock contractors, and were quite lively and ready to perform. The introduction of the bull riders was done like the Professional Bull Riders do and feature them with lots of fireworks! The announcer was Creed Roberts, the bullfighters were; Ace Lloyd, Todd Yarbrough, Winston Derby, Cody Patton and Chris Hammack.
Well known former bullfighter, barrelman and continuous funnyman, Leon Coffee, was featured, along with laugh-getter David Haffelder. Leon put Brent on his first bull, when he was only 8 years old, told Brent’s mother, Kay Thurman. Leon was not only a bullfighter but a long-time friend of the family.
Chance Lopez of Karnes City, TX won first; Ralph Benson of Atkins, TX won 2nd; Sterling Furr of Boerne, TX won 3rd; McKennon Wimberley of Stephenville, TX won 4th; and 5th place was won by Zack Miles of Gonzales, TX.
The stock was furnished by the following people; BP Cattle Company, Bailey Kays Bad Boys, Silent 7, Curry Creek, Shumaker, Murph and Donahoe, Shane Davis, Edward Martinez, JD Nix, Cooper/Skruggs, Covenant Rodeo and Shane Davis 2.
Brent was born March 3, 1969, and joined PRCA in 1988. He was 5’9” and weighed 148 pounds. He was an up-and-coming bull rider from Dripping Springs, Texas. In 1993 Brent first qualified for the National Finals Rodeo, which meant he was one of the top fifteen bull riders in the country. When the Finals ended after 10 go-rounds he was 6thin the World. He placed in the National Finals in four go-rounds. He won a second, a fourth, tied for third and fourth place, and in the 8thgo-round he tied for first and second with Mark Cain. Brent made over $25,000 at the Nationals Finals that year. His best payoff that year was Denver with a $4,901 total. He finalized that year in PRCA with $69,465.
Brent Thurman, age 25, made the National Finals, for the second time, in 1994. Again he was one of the top fifteen bull riders in the world! In the 10thand last round he drew Growney Brothers bull, Red Wolf, and was bucked off. He received cranial and facial fractures. He was wearing a protective vest, but unfortunately, the injuries were above it. Six days later, December 17th, he died of these injuries. His death was the only one that has occurred at the National Finals Rodeo because of injuries sustained at the Finals in its fifty eight year history.
The Hill Country Sun, July/August issue, of a magazine from Dripping Springs had an article on Brent and said, “He’s known as a gentleman who never met a stranger, the guy who made you feel like you were his best friend. The one you wanted to hang out with, who always had a grin on his face. He was one of the good guys, and a hero to many. Brent Thurman is not be forgotten . . not ever.
His legacy as a compassionate and driven young man has left many treasured memories and a permanent reminder of what goodness and selflessness is all about. Brent Thurman truly cared about and loved people and life beyond measure with real enthusiasm. ‘He lived everyday of his life exactly like he wanted. Brent lived more in 25 years than I could if I lived to be 100,’ says his mother, Kay.”