Brothers Ride For Different Wyoming Teams, But Share Family Legacy Of Rodeo

Thayne and Talon Elshere are both bronc riders who currently occupy first and second place in the College National Finals Rodeo being held in Casper this week. The brothers, from a deep rodeo family, are riding for different Wyoming teams.

DK
Dale Killingbeck

June 10, 20246 min read

Thayne Elshere begins his exit off the bull during competition at the College National Finals Rodeo.
Thayne Elshere begins his exit off the bull during competition at the College National Finals Rodeo. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)

CASPER — A pair of brothers are realizing their dreams of riding in the College National Finals Rodeo this week in the Oil City, but they’ll be wearing different colors.

The Elshere brothers are both saddle bronc riders — Thayne for Gillette College and Talon for Casper Community College — and were sitting first and second respectively in points after the initial rides of first-round competition Sunday afternoon and evening.

Both come from a rodeo family and a ranch in Hereford, South Dakota. Thayne, 19, is a freshman at Gillette College studying diesel technology while Talon, 21, is a junior agriculture business major at Casper Community College.

For them, riding rodeo is almost as natural and automatic as walking or doing farm chores.

“My dad rode saddle bronc and bulls. He rode bulls there for a little bit in high school,” Thayne said. “About 8 years old I wanted to do that. And here about my freshman year (in high school) I got on my bronc and realized that that was pretty fun, so just stuck with that.”

Saddle Bronc Focus

He qualified for saddle bronc and bull riding at the CNFR. Brother Talon said he focuses mainly saddle bronc riding. This is the first year he qualified for the CNFR in that event.

“I steer wrestle sometimes a little bit here and there and team rope, but I mainly focus on bronc riding,” he said. “It’s a classic event. It’s fun, it’s cool, it’s flashy, it’s a great atmosphere, everybody are buddies and everybody gets along. It’s a good time. I like it a lot.”

Talon said he has been riding broncs since he was 15.

“Yeah, my dad did it, cousins and uncles all do it,” he said. “It just kind of runs in the family, felt like something I probably should do.”

Both are also members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Records on the PRCA site show Thayne brought home $1,330 and took second place at the Pioneer Days Rodeo in Clovis, New Mexico, in early May.

Talon Elshere earned $2,919 and took second place with a score of 85.5 the Home of the Navajo PRCA Rodeo in Window Rock, Arizona, May 31-June 1.

During competition Sunday evening, Thayne did not do as well on his bull as his bronc. He was thrown off after a few rowdy seconds. He said bull riding does bring a fear factor.

“Well, there for a little bit I would get nervous every time, but now it’s just got a little bit of nerves,” he said. “Nerves are good, just gotta fight with the nerves and keep getting on.”

  • The Elshere family has a history of rodeo competitors. Grandfather Jim Elshere rode bareback broncs and bulls in high school. From left are Jim Elshere, wife Lana, and Talon.
    The Elshere family has a history of rodeo competitors. Grandfather Jim Elshere rode bareback broncs and bulls in high school. From left are Jim Elshere, wife Lana, and Talon. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Thayne Elshere of Gillette College garnered the top score in the saddle bronc competition on Sunday.
    Thayne Elshere of Gillette College garnered the top score in the saddle bronc competition on Sunday. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)

Preparation

Both brothers described their preparation for saddle broncs as once they learn their draw, they go to the pro rodeo site and see if the horse has been on the pro circuit. They then call a couple of cowboys who have recently ridden that horse for some tips on how to rein it.

“Every horse takes a little bit different rein and either puts his head way down in the ground or way up in the air, so we gotta get the right amount of rein so it makes it a little easier on you,” Talon Elshere said. “You just get into a rhythm with him and go with him and not try and force anything, and let him do his deal and just dance with him pretty much.”

While horses have certain tendencies, Thayne said the bulls remain unpredictable.

“They can do something different every single time,” he said. “You never know.”

Both brothers enjoy the camaraderie of their teams and the friendly competition at the CNFR.

Gillette College qualified to compete at the team level, while Casper College did not.

Thayne said he appreciates his rough stock coach and four-time bareback riding professional world champion Marvin Garrett, who has helped he and other teammates dissect their techniques in various situations on broncs and bulls.

“When we go into the classroom and slow the videos down, Marvin, he really looks at the position of your feet and if you are lifting on your rein, where your free arm is and chin and lets you know which one has a little break in there and see what you need to work on,” Thayne said. “In bull riding, he sees where your free arm is and where your legs are into him and upper body and lets you know with that as well.”

Strong Conference Seasons

His freshman year at the college resulted in ties for third and fourth place in saddle bronc riding in the Central Rocky Mountain Region. Thayne won bull riding in the region and the All-Around Cowboy.

Talon took the top spot in saddle bronc riding as the conference season ended.

Both brothers hope to have enough good rides this week to put them in the finals. They are grateful for the opportunity to be in Casper competing with 400 athletes from more than 120 schools represented at the event.

“I really don’t know how I feel. It’s kind of just a blessing to be here, the opportunities that I had all year and the great people that I had behind me and supporting me along the way and couldn’t feel any better,” Thayne said.

Big brother Talon echoed that, saying he hopes to, “Get a few scores down and make the short round.”

He also will be pulling for his younger brother as well as fellow Casper College competitors.

“I’ve always been rooting for him and everybody in a red vest, we are all buddies and hope everybody does good,” Talon Elshere said. “It’s pretty nice when you get to come out on top.”

  • Talon Elshere shows his form during the saddle bronc competition on Sunday at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper.
    Talon Elshere shows his form during the saddle bronc competition on Sunday at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Thayne Elshere tries to stay centered on his bull after it initially started whipping in him in a circle out of the gate on Sunday.
    Thayne Elshere tries to stay centered on his bull after it initially started whipping in him in a circle out of the gate on Sunday. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Thayne Elshere of Gillette College could not repeat the success of his saddle bronc ride on a bull. The accomplished bull rider who finished first in the Central Rocky Mountain Region conference was tossed after a few seconds.
    Thayne Elshere of Gillette College could not repeat the success of his saddle bronc ride on a bull. The accomplished bull rider who finished first in the Central Rocky Mountain Region conference was tossed after a few seconds. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Talon Elshere of Casper College rides his bronc to a second-place finish to his brother, Thayne, of Gillette College on Sunday.
    Talon Elshere of Casper College rides his bronc to a second-place finish to his brother, Thayne, of Gillette College on Sunday. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)

Family Support

The Elshere’s family also will be in the stands. While their father and mother were still in South Dakota on Sunday, they planned to be at the rodeo later in the week, Talon said. But grandparents Jim and Lana Elshere were cheering the pair Sunday from their seats.

Jim said he rode bulls and broncs while in high school and is excited to see his grandsons compete at the CNFR.

“It’s just a fantastic, good sport and you get humble, good kids that are participating,” he said.

Jim said he does not try to offer his grandsons advice on their various rides in the ring. But he is a proud grandpa.

“I think it’s fantastic. I am glad to see them go to college and exceed and excel in what they do,” he said.

What would life for the Elshere family be like without rodeo.

“Boring,” Jim said.

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at dale@cowboystatedaily.com.

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