Uw Grad Has Bred, Trained Some Of Steer Wrestling’s Stars

The Oakdale Leader - - NEIGHBORHOOD VALUES -

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Sean Mul­li­gan never pic­tured him­self breed­ing horses.

The 42-year-old ex­pected steer wrestling to con­sume his life af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the Univer­sity of Wy­oming in 1998.

Those plans changed around La­bor Day 2004.

It was that week­end he watched a brother of his horse, Lions Share of Fame, run the fastest qual­i­fy­ing time at the All-Amer­i­can Fu­tu­rity. Lions Share of Fame’s sib­lings from sire Dash Ta Fame were start­ing to gain a rep­u­ta­tion in the rodeo world, but Mul­li­gan hadn’t in­tended to take his horse on the road.

In­stead, Mul­li­gan had in­tended to train and sell Lions Share of Fame. That fu­tu­rity race made the Cole­man, Ok­la­homa, res­i­dent re­con­sider.

“We thought, ‘Holy smokes, we might have some­thing here,’” Mul­li­gan said.

What Mul­li­gan, and his wife, Brayel (Zan­canella) Mul­li­gan, had was a horse that has gone on to sire horses that have cat­a­pulted sev­eral steer wrestlers up the Pro­fes­sional Rodeo Cowboys As­so­ci­a­tion’s world standings.

Cole Edge has rid­den Miss Kitty to the No. 3 spot in the world standings. Cha­son Floyd is No. 22 and com­peted at his first Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo on Miss Kitty last De­cem­ber.

The top 15 money-earn­ers in each event at the end of Septem­ber make the NFR.

Tan­ner Brun­ner of Ra­mona, Kansas (No. 13), and Cameron Mor­man of Glen Ullin, North Dakota (No. 17), are chas­ing their first NFR qual­i­fi­ca­tions while split­ting time between Miss Kitty and Mul­li­gan’s other horse, Holly.

Lions Share of Fame’s chil­dren aren’t just good at steer wrestling, ei­ther.

Bar­rel racer Ivy Con­rado of Hud­son, Colorado, is No. 15 in the world standings this week. She has earned more of her money on her backup horse, Famey, while her pri­mary horse, J-Lo, rested an in­jury.

“My wife trained bar­rel (rac­ing) horses, and my sis­ter-in-law ran them, so we knew we could make a go out of it,” Mul­li­gan said. “It has become the whole fam­ily’s dream to raise good horses.”

The Mul­li­gans have roughly 20 foals an­nu­ally, peo­ple bring them mares to breed, and they also ship se­men across the coun­try.

Mul­li­gan’s horses run in bar­rel rac­ing fu­tu­ri­ties when they’re nearly 5 years old. He starts work­ing with them on steer wrestling the fol­low­ing year.

“There are ex­cep­tional horses that take right to it, but it’s hard with all the noise and peo­ple around them,” he said. “Being at a rodeo is sen­sory over­load for them. They have never seen bal­loons, flags wav­ing in their face or the big are­nas.

“It takes about two years of haul­ing them to fig­ure out if they’re go­ing to be any good.”

Miss Kitty and Holly are 10 and 11 years old, re­spec­tively. With the right care — and some luck — Mul­li­gan ex­pects them to be at their peak for at least five more years. He al­ready has a cou­ple of horses he is pre­par­ing to take their place.

“I have been spend­ing most of my time with these two, but I’ll lighten their load a lit­tle bit next sum­mer and take the other horses down the road more,” he said. “I’ll still use these two at the big­ger rodeos we go to.”

Edge cred­its Mul­li­gan’s horses for putting him in line for his sec­ond ca­reer NFR qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

“For me, 100 per­cent of my suc­cess is the horse,” the 33-year-old said. “If I know I’m not mounted good enough, I’ll just stay home. I have done that in the past.

“If I feel like I can’t be at the top level, there’s no point in even being out here. There are maybe eight horses out here right now that I would put in that elite cat­e­gory, and (Mul­li­gan) has two of them.”

Mul­li­gan’s trav­el­ing groups have been com­pet­ing so hard dur­ing July that Miss Kitty was given a rest when Mul­li­gan and his friends com­peted at Cheyenne Fron­tier Days on Mon­day and Tuesday. All of them com­peted on Holly dur­ing their stint at the “Daddy of ‘em All.”

The rig­ors of the road can catch up to horses, so it is im­por­tant to have more than one, Floyd said.

“We’re ask­ing them to go from a stand­ing po­si­tion to run­ning as fast as they can in two or three sec­onds and then have 200- to 250-pound guys hang­ing off their sides,” the Buf­falo, South Dakota, res­i­dent said. “Plus, we haul them up to 50,000 or 60,000 miles per year.

“We haul them all night and then ask them to go out and run hard dur­ing the day. We ask a lot out of them.”

Mul­li­gan knows how valu­able his horses are and treats them like mem­bers of his fam­ily, Floyd added.

“There are guys who are made to ride horses and guys who are made to own horses,” he said.

“Not just any­body can own horses and keep them sound. A lot of guys strug­gle with that,” Floyd said.

“(Mul­li­gan) takes great care of his horses. He is meant to own horses.”

It is com­mon­place for a steer wrestler to give 25 per­cent of what­ever he earns on the back of a mount to the horse’s owner. The money helps pay for feed, ve­teri­nary bills and travel ex­penses.

Steer wrestler Sean Mul­li­gan.

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