LAS VEGAS — Ike Sankey rodeos, large and small, have one common denominator.
Great bucking horses. And plenty of them.
The top rough stock cowboys in the PRCA appreciated that bucking depth, selecting Sankey Pro Rodeo and Jeff Robinson Bucking Bulls for the 2018 Remuda Award.
The Joliet-based stock contractor and his family were honored during the PRCA Awards banquet the night prior to the start of the National Finals Rodeo.
The Gooding, Idaho, rodeo committee also received the Remuda Award.
The award, according to the PRCA, “Goes to the stock contractor and rodeo committee that provides the most consistent pen of bucking horses, creating the best opportunities for the contestants to score well.”
“It’s really nice,” said Ike Sankey of the honor. “The contestants recognize our horses are good.
“That’s always been our trademark … outstanding bucking horses. To be recognized for that, that’s neat.”
Sankey is the second Montana stock contractor to earn the Remuda Award. The J Bar J, owned by Sparky and Marlene Dreesen of Circle, won the award in 2010 and 2014.
Sankey got his stock contractor’s card in 1979, his last year as a competitive cowboy. A four-time NFR qualifier (1975-78), he competed in both bareback and saddle bronc riding in 1978. He still competes in steer roping.
Sankey also served as the rodeo coach for Northwest College, helping develop such saddle bronc cowboys as seven-time world champion Dan Mortensen of Billings and multiple Canadian champion Rod Hay of Wildwood, Alberta.
Sankey was selected the PRCA stock contractor of the year in 1999 and has had three horses chosen the PRCA saddle bronc horse of the year: Skitso Skoal, 1994, 1997; Skoal’s Wild Car, 1998; Surprise Party Skoal, 2000.
Wanting to deepen his pen of bucking bulls, Sankey partnered with Jeff Robinson of Mars Hill, North Carolina. In the past few years, he and his wife Roberta have turned over the day-to-day operations of the rodeo company to his daughter Ryan and son Wade. Wade Sankey is taking care of the bareback and saddle bronc horses selected for the NFR. Roberta Sankey is a five-time selection as a timer for the NFR.
The family has been the stock contractor from day one of the Yellowstone River Roundup, making it one of the top paying PRCA rodeos in the state of Montana. Sankey Pro Rodeo also produces the prestigious Pendleton, Oregon, Round-Up and other rodeos around the region, including Great Falls.
“If we were going to do the job, you need to do it right,” said Sankey, who also coordinates the annual Chase Hawks Memorial Rough Stock Rodeo in Billings every December. “And if you’re going to do it right, you have to have a deep pen of horses.”
The elder Sankey estimates there are 350 horses roaming their property located outside of Joliet. And all those horses are the products of the Sankey Pro Rodeo breeding program. His saddle bronc horse Marquee carried former world champion Skeeter Thurston to a 90-point ride on Monday night in the fifth round.
“We raised every single one of them,” he said. “That’s a real point of pride. It's how we make our living and we take pride in it.”