Pro Rodeo Cowboy Was On His Horse With Rope In Hand When Lightning Struck And Killed Him

The rodeo community is stunned in the wake of the death of Nebraska pro roper Terrel Vineyard, 27, who was on horseback with a rope in his hand when lightning struck him. Vineyard and his horse were killed.

Greg Johnson

June 28, 20233 min read

Terrel Vineyard
Terrel Vineyard (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The rodeo community is mourning the death of a 27-year-old pro rodeo cowboy who died last week when he was hit by lightning while on his horse with a rope in his hand.

Terrel Vineyard of Oshkosh, Nebraska, was killed about 2:10 p.m. June 21 after being struck by lightning while on his horse, Dose, which also died, the Garden County Sheriff’s Office reports.

A professional calf and team roper who qualified three times for the World Series of Team Roping in Las Vegas, Vineyard was reportedly well-liked in the rodeo community.

He leaves behind a wife, Stacey, and three young girls. He was buried Tuesday in Nebraska.

“We were perfect for one another,” Stacey posted to her Facebook page the day after the accident. “You showed me love, you adored me and made me feel like the most beautiful woman.

“Our time was short, so short. … The girls and I are going to miss you so damn much.”

A Loss For Rodeo Community

Although Vineyard was from Nebraska, the pro rodeo cowboys and their families throughout the region are very close, said Mike Kammerer, president of the Wyoming Rodeo Association.

While he didn’t know Vineyard personally, Kammerer said Wyoming is thinking of the family.

“Our thoughts and prayers and condolences for the families from the Wyoming Rodeo Association,” he said. “That just hits close to home, because the one thing about rodeo families is they’re all pretty tightknit.”

‘1 In A Billion’

While rare, cowboys dying while competing in rodeo isn’t unheard of, Kammerer said. But it’s usually from injuries inflicted by a large, angry animal, not Mother Nature.

How Vineyard died “is a shock, that’s for sure,” he said. “I’ve never heard of anything like that when someone’s roping and gets hit on his horse. That’s probably a 1 in a billion kind of thing.”

The closest he’s seen to that was a lightning strike near an area during a rodeo, Kammerer said.

“I was rodeoing in Green River one year and it started lightninging in the bull riding,” he said. “It hit so close to the arena you could smell the sulphur from the lightning strike in the arena.”

A GoFundMe campaign for Vineyard’s family has, as of Wednesday afternoon, raised $3,485 of a $5,000 goal.

Greg Johnson can be reached at

Share this article



Greg Johnson

Managing Editor

Veteran Wyoming journalist Greg Johnson is managing editor for Cowboy State Daily.