The monkey is off Shane Frey’s back.
For the first time, the Duncan, Oklahoma, cowboy has won a check at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte.
Frey made a 3.4 second run during slack on Wednesday morning to win the first round among 84 steer wrestlers.
The 27-year-old has competed in North Platte’s pro rodeo six times, never having won money. "Honestly, I’ve always loved this rodeo," he said. "But, this is the first time I’ve been able to crack the pay window."
He was aboard an 18-year-old gelding owned by Charlene Neale.
"Old Gray is an excellent steer wrestling mount," Frey said. "He really fits me well. He’s good, solid, and makes my job easy."
Neale has kept the horse close to home for local rodeos, and for her nephews to ride. This year, the horse will be on the pro rodeo trail across the nation. Frey, Duvall, Tyrel Cline, and Sam Goings will all ride Old Gray as they compete at PRCA rodeos.
"He’s had a lot of guys win on him around the house, but this is the most he’s ever gone, to the biggest rodeos," Frey said.
Frey enjoys coming back to North Platte and the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.
"The money’s great, and it’s a cool rodeo," he said. "For us, it kicks off the summer run and it’s always exciting."
North Platte is considered the unofficial start to the Fourth of July rodeo season, the busiest time of the year for rodeo competition.
"When we leave the house for the summer, it’s a good place to get everything rolling," Frey said. "We’re still fresh and ready to go, still full of hopes and dreams. After the Fourth (of July), you’re either really happy or really grumpy, and you’re tired, regardless of how you’re doing."