There comes a time in life’s journey when one chapter comes to an end and another begins! Bridwell Pro Rodeos’ bareback horse #960 Beaver Fever is no exception. The 18-year-old sorrel mare just completed her competitive career and has retired to the pastures of Red Bluff, California since the conclusion of the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR).
To say she earned retirement may be an understatement. Beaver Fever has been a mainstay at rodeos all over the United States and Canada for the last 14 years. She made her first trip to the WNFR as a 7-year-old in 2006 and has been consecutively selected each year making her 11th appearance at the 2017 WNFR. Along the way she bested professional cowboys across the land and had become a bareback horse every cowboy aimed at riding. Current PRCA Bareback Riding Director and 2017 WNFR contestant Caleb Bennett recounts the sentiments of many bareback riders. “Beaver Fever has always been a pay window horse. She’s honest, consistent and gives a guy a chance to win first every time. There’s a reason why she’s been to the NFR time and time again.”
Some of her most notable accomplishments may not be as well known to the casual fan, but to owner Tim Bridwell of Bridwell Pro Rodeos, they are some of the most special. Beaver Fever helped Bobby Mote earn his Millionth Dollar in Professional Rodeo at the Red Bluff Round-Up (Bridwell and Beaver Fever’s hometown). “I always loved to draw Beaver Fever. I was around when she was young and through her career I never saw her have a trip that wouldn’t allow the cowboy to win. I saw her put some of the best guys on the ground and I’ve seen her take a lot of top guys to the pay window. She was a winner,” said Bobby Mote when reflecting on Beaver Fever’s retirement.
In 2015 she carried Oregon native Steven Peebles to a second go-round win on Peebles’ way to winning his first World Championship. Peebles autographed the bareback riggin’ he used during the WNFR in ‘15 and presented it to Bridwell after the 10th round. Both Mote and Peebles are dear friends of Bridwell. Beyond the friendships and accomplishments of the cowboys, Bridwell reserves a special place for the heavy-made, stocking legged mare near to his heart. “She has and always will be one of my favorite horses…...even going back to when I started my bucking horse program in 2005. She has always, without a doubt, been rock solid for me.”
While Beaver Fever may be exiting the bright lights of rodeo arenas across the country, she will not be forgotten. At the 2017 WNFR she passed the torch to her son #221 Beaver Bend as he made his first appearance at the “Big Show” in the Saddle Bronc Riding. Virtually an unknown at the beginning 2017, Beaver Bend quickly proved himself carrying top cowboys like Jake Wright to pay windows across the country. His genetics and bucking ability did not disappoint fans…. but Bridwell knew all along from an early age Beaver Bend was special. “Being selected to the WNFR as a 5-year-old just doesn’t happen very often in this business. Beaver Bend is the right kind. He has a great mind. He is gentle but knows when it is game time. His bucking style is a lot like his Mom’s and is what top cowboys drive miles and miles to compete on!”
Rodeo truly is a family affair built through generations. Beaver Fever’s storied legacy will be carried on not only by Beaver Bend but by future buckers she will raise in the pastures East of Red Bluff. The colt she carries within her is sired by the famed stallion Tiger Warrior of the Calgary Stampede. Three generations of bucking horses representing not only great buckers, but a rodeo lifestyle derived of families and friends throughout the last 100 years.