BILLINGS — Perseverance, talent, the support of family and friends, and hard work.
In the end, it turned out to be a winning formula.
For Scott Breding, it was a winding road — both extremely trying and joyfully triumphant at times — but it has led him to the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame.
The Edgar bull rider will be inducted in the Legends category on Saturday at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center at the MPRHWF’s 16th annual scholarship fundraising banquet.
Breding’s name will be etched into the Hall of Fame wall in front of First Interstate Arena at MetraPark, and he will be remembered as a “Legend” of Montana rodeo.
Breding told The Billings Gazette and 406mtsports.com he’s definitely honored and thrilled to be included among the Legends of Montana pro rodeo by the organization.
“Definitely, because when I started riding I didn’t believe I’d be inducted into a hall or wall of fame,” Breding, 59, said. “From when I started when I was 12 years old, how it’s come to this is pretty cool.”
Breding, who was born in Great Falls, was raised in Big Timber as his family moved there shortly after he was born.
A 1980 graduate of Sweet Grass County High School, Breding started competing in the Montana Junior Rodeo Association when he was 12 and continued until he was 18. From there, he attended Miles Community College on an art scholarship and later earned a rodeo scholarship.
Breding rode saddle broncs and bulls for the Pioneers and was the 1982 college rodeo national champion in bull riding for Miles CC.
“I couldn’t believe it, really,” Breding said when recalling the 1982 college championships. “I started in the middle of the pack and bull by bull was climbing. I was near the top in the average and then rode my bull and ended up the champ.
“That was the most exciting thing to happen to me up till that point.”
Breding lost his mother, Lorraine, before he turned 1 year old.
“Mom, dad (Pat), and I were in a car accident,” he said. “I don’t remember that, but she succumbed to that.”
Scott’s father was a bareback and saddle bronc rider and competed locally. Pat Breding was second in the 1972 NRA bareback standings.
“That’s how I got started was going to rodeos with him when I was 6 or 7 years old and stuff,” Breding said.
It wasn’t long before the bulls and bull riders drew the attention of the future five-time National Finals Rodeo competitor.
“There was a time in that time period I was following my dad around and I lost him at the bull riding,” Breding recalled. “He found me and said, ‘There you are,’ and I told him I was watching bull riding. He said you don’t want to ride one of those things. He said a man shouldn’t ride anything with a cloven hoof. He was being humorous. He told me he’d get me going on the bucking horses someday.”
While Pat would have liked his son to concentrate on bucking horses, Scott couldn’t stop thinking about riding bulls.
“I was infatuated with them bull riders,” Breding said. “I thought, 'What in the world are those guys doing?' I couldn’t believe they were doing that. Those were some scary looking beasts.”
Tragedy would again strike the Breding family. A decade after Scott lost his mom, his dad died.
“Dad passed away when I was 10,” Breding said. “He was driving truck and had an accident and died from those injuries from that.”
Breding said his father’s sister and his aunt, Mickey Edwards, and his grandfather Ralph Breding raised him after that.
Scott feels fortunate to have had his aunt and grandfather in his life. Having that support helped Scott through grieving for his father.
“At that age I missed him for sure for a year or so,” Scott recalled. “I was surrounded by loving family. It seemed all about the same. It was like being with dad. I really missed dad for a while. I came to terms with it. I had a good family and a lot of love. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”
Breding credited his grandfather, whom he lived on a ranch with after his dad died, for keeping him interested in rodeo.
“The rest of my family weren’t into rodeo, they were ranchers and farmer sorts,” Scott recalled. “Grandpa was a cowboy in the day. He was a rancher, but with him he had horses and I was always involved with horses and cows.”
Life of a cowboy
After winning the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association championship, Breding said he again qualified for nationals in 1983 but didn’t fare as well.
Breding had also begun competing in the NRA as a teenager and in 1983 was the circuit’s bull riding year-end champion. By 1985, he was the PRCA bull riding rookie of the year.
After that initial success in winning the rookie honors, Breding said he suffered a setback.
“Then I had a couple bad years and went home and back to work and hit some NRA rodeos some more and went back to the pros in 1987,” he recalled.
In 1986, Breding once again captured NRA gold in bull riding. Today, Breding still team ropes using his first NRA championship saddle.
In the late 1980s, Breding began traveling with Brett Todd of Big Timber.
“We traveled for three years, maybe four, off and on,” Breding said. “We were in the top 20 or 25 a couple of those years. We ended up short of the NFR a couple years, but we were close.”
By 1990, Breding had yet to finish in the top 15 of the standings and qualify for the NFR and said he was “burned out from traveling and went home to go catch up on some bills.”
Breding would eventually reach the NFR Finals from 1994-97 and again in 1999, but those years were to come. Breding would also go on to qualify for the Professional Bull Riders World Finals.
A loving family
Scott has been married to his wife Jana for 34 years and they have lived in their home in Edgar since 1994.
The family lives near Jana’s parents’ home in Rockvale.
Scott and Jana’s first child, daughter Lacey, was born in 1988.
“I felt like we had a big burden on our shoulders,” said Breding of his decision to walk away from rodeo in 1990. “My wife, Jana, worked hard and kept us afloat during my down time with rodeo.”
Scott and Jana are the parents of three children — Lacey, Parker, and Jase and the grandparents of Lacey’s daughter McKinley, who the family calls “Kinley.”
Parker Breding has followed in his father’s footsteps and is a professional bull rider and three-time NFR qualifier. The 29-year-old Parker is currently eighth in the PRCA standings with $102,713.88 in earnings.
Lacey participates in barrel racing at the local level and Jase, 16, attends Joliet High School and also competes in open barrel racing events.
Kinley, 9, is bound to be a barrel racer, said Scott.
“She’s the light of our lives and is a horse person, too,” he said. “She rides all over the place with Lacey and Jase. I suppose she’ll be a barrel racer. She just got started and got a new horse and is learning well.”
While he participates in team roping at jackpots, and occasionally on the Wrangler Team Roping Championships circuit, Breding also stays connected to rodeo by occasionally judging bull riding.
Scott also enjoys following Parker’s career and is proud of his son.
“It’s really neat. I knew he would end up somewhere in that area,” Scott said. “He played it while I was riding. I went to a lot of high school rodeos with him and watched him hone his way to that caliber. It’s pretty neat, he’s kind of surpassed me.”
Today, Breding has worked the last 18 years for the Montana Department of Transportation plowing snow and helping with maintenance on the highways.
Return to rodeo
In 1990, Breding began working on the American Fork Ranch near Melville and he worked there until the spring of 1993.
Around that time, Breding began receiving calls from the Bull Riders Only.
“The Bull Riders Only started calling me to see if I could come to an event,” he said. “I turned them down three or four times and Brett Todd kept calling me. … I called my boss and he said go ahead, but don’t make a habit of it.
“I took a chance and went to Casper, Wyoming, and won it (BRO) and won $12,500 and a bronze. Oh, they loaded me up. I thought, ‘Boy maybe I better think twice about this.’”
Eventually, with the persuasion of Jana, Scott reentered the bull riding field full-time.
“I did go to a couple BRO events and placed and we discussed it and she (Jana) said maybe I should take another shot at it. I don’t want to hear when you are 60 years old how ‘I could have done it.’ I was 30 years old, a lot of guys are thinking of quitting then. Working on the ranch regenerated me. I was as strong as I ever was.”
By 1994, old friend and top-flight bull rider Clint Branger called Breding. Branger had been a traveling partner of his back in 1985.
“In 1994, Clint Branger called me and asked if I wanted to get in with him and Aaron Semas from California and I said, ‘Sure, I’d love to get in with you guys,’” Breding recalled. “We started the winter run in January and also joined in with former world champion Jim Sharp. I was honored to ride with that crew. It brought the best out of me. I qualified for my first NFR. I was 31 then.”
‘It’s not easy’
Breding retired in 2001. In 1998, he had battled a shoulder injury and ended up having surgery. After returning and qualifying for the NFR once again in 1999, Breding was suffering from an injury on his other shoulder.
After years of riding bulls, it was time to give the body a rest.
“I’ve been on a lot of bulls, I think over 2,000,” Breding said. “And bucking horses, I rode saddle broncs off and on. I was never really accomplished there. I placed some and won a little though.”
Breding is happy and content with how his career turned out. On Saturday night, as he did many times after a crowd-pleasing ride during his career, Breding will receive a nice ovation when he’s honored with his MPRHWF induction.
“I got to thinking about it now that I’ve had all these years off and watching my son Parker,” he said. “I realize how hard it is to hammer yourself all year and to qualify. Just to qualify with the stuff you go through. It’s not easy. Looking back, I am humbled I made it that many times. It’s hard. You can be talented, but if you get injured; everything has to go right.”