The “World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale” is the signature event for Miles City, and it truly is world famous. The sale is always scheduled on the third weekend of May. In 2014, activities run May 15-18.
Through the efforts of many people over the years, Miles City has gained a national, even international reputation as host for this four-day Cowboy Mardi Gras.
Activities usually get under way Thursday evening with a steak fry and concert at the Eastern Montana Fairgrounds. This year's headliner, Diamond Rio, has 13 Grammy nominations, was named Vocal Group of the Year six times and has sold more than 10 million albums.
Friday night is actually reserved for bucking bulls, with some auctioned off immediately after the ride. Between rounds of bull riding, kids can try their luck at Mutton Bustin’. The crowd favorite Wild Horse Race wraps up the evening. Teams of three people have the task of subduing a “wild” horse, saddling it and putting a rider aboard for a lap around the racetrack. With multiple teams and horses going in all directions, it's always entertaining and unpredictable.
After the arena action on both Friday and Saturday, most folks head downtown to the people corral on Main Street, inside which live music and dancing can be found on every block.
The arena action on Saturday is similar to bareback and saddle bronc events at traditional rodeos, but the cowboys are scored and the horses are sold at auction immediately following their rides. Between rounds of bucking horses, spectators can wager on pari-mutuel horse racing. The last event of the day is the Wild Horse Race.
The sale is still a noted proving ground for horses, which range from untried stock to some with a couple of trips out the gate to spoiled saddle horses to seasoned bucking stock. The feistiest command high prices and appear in rodeos all over the world.
Because the number of horses consigned is usually between 100 and 200 head, the cowboys – and occasionally cowgirls – get lots of chances to ride and win prize money. There’s even a tough-guy award for the cowboy who gets on the most horses. All you need is an entry fee, an insurance waiver and some guts to sign up. The Bucking Horse Sale is often a starting point for cowboys, although some high-ranking athletes – both riders and horses – have made appearances here.
Sunday offers a Match Bronc Ride that draws the best horses and cowboys from the region. Sunday also has pari-mutuel horse racing and the Wild Horse Race.
From Thursday night to Sunday night, locals and visitors also can participate in a whole slate of activities ranging from a parade, Quick Draw Art Auction, western dining, art exhibits, a trade show, live music, mutton busting for the kids, street dances, sheep shearing and much more.
The Bucking Horse Sale is often a reunion and rendezvous point for former Miles Citians and all Montanans. The socializing can be easy or strenuous – cowboy hat a plus, but not required.
The BHS also is a convention of rodeo stock contractors from all over North America.
In its present form, the BHS is over 60 years old, but it has a rich history stretching back even farther. The sale is an outgrowth of an informal gathering of stock contractors who began meeting in Miles City each spring starting in 1914. In recent decades, the Jaycees sponsored the Bucking Horse Sale, and more recently a board of governors organizes and runs it.
All the seats on Friday are sold as general admission at $12 for adults. On Saturday and Sunday, reserve seating at $17 as well as general admission will be available. Advance tickets are on sale at the Miles City Area Chamber of Commerce, 406-234-2890, before they become available at the gate. Certain sessions and seating areas sell quickly even in advance of the sale. Tickets can be reserved online by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Hotel rooms are hard to come by, so book early - up to a year in advance.
Additional information is available on the BHS Web page at www.buckinghorsesale.com .
The Bucking Horse Sale is synonymous with Miles City and is a celebration of the horse, the cowboy and Western hospitality. It is a defining event for the area and offers something for everyone – young and old, resident and visitor. Welcome, and let ’er buck!