Bucking Genius Dies

A racetrack reject who earned millions for rodeo cowboys and his owners, legendary bareback bronc Khadafy Skoal died last week. He was nearly 31.

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The quarter horse gelding was famous for the power and style with which he ejected cowboys–and for his trademark victory lap. After sending riders flying, the horse would run around the arena with his head and tail high, his owner Lori Franzen told the Billings Gazette.

Twenty-five starts at the track and a trail of dumped jockeys led Khadafy Skoal to Hank and Lori Franzen, who were just starting their Wyoming rodeo stock horse business, Powder River Rodeo Company. He was not fond of jockeys. Or saddles, for that matter. But the horse could buck. The couple watched him instantly fling a college kid to the ground and wrote a check for $2,000 on the spot. The blue roan launched thousands of cowboys–and their company.

“We owe everything to him, and he owes nothing to us,” Lori Franzen told the Star Tribune in 2011. “He was the horse that started with the world titles, and those world titles give you contracts and open the doors for business.”

khadafy family

Khadafy Skoal and the Franzen family. Photo: Powder River Rodeo

Khadafy bucked his way into the upper echelons of the sport from his very first professional bareback ride in 1989. The Franzens entered him at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1989. In the final round of the rodeo known as “The Daddy of ’em All” Khadafi launched out of the chutes and scored an 89 with ProRodeo Hall of Famer Bruce Ford.

He kept bucking with the same passion and power for 21 years. The Franzens retired him 2004. On his last ride, he scored a 90.

Defying gravity and any cowboy who threw a leg over his back, the gelding went to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 16 consecutive years. He was top NFR Bareback Horse in 1994, 1996, 1999, Reserve Champion in 1995 and 3rd place NFR Bareback Horse in 1997 and 1998.  He was named 1990, 1995 and 1996 PRCA World Champion, 1997 and 2000 Reserve Champion and 1999 3rd place PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year. He won the Dodge National Circuit Finals Top Bareback five times and Reserve DNCFR Top Bareback three times. He won the Mountain States Circuit Champion Bareback ten times and Reserve Champion twice. Khadafy Skoal was selected and honored as one of six Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductees last year.

“He was electric. He was different, he was amazing and people wanted to see him,” Lori Franzen told the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Khadafy Skoal had been living a quiet life of retirement among the Powder River herd with his pal and fellow rodeo veteran Frontier. He was still bucking. The senior citizen bucked and whinnied when Lori Franzen brought him his breakfast two days before he died. He was slated to meet admirers in Las Vegas at the National Finals Rodeo FanFest next month. Instead, one of the greatest bucking horses of all times did what he let no rider do in his 21-year career–he peacefully laid down.

Check out this ode to the great bronc from the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame:

Go Khadafy Skoal.


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