Rodeo would not be possible without the animal athletes and the hard working stock contractors that raise and care for them. With more than 70 stock contractors in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association currently, it takes skill and great bloodlines of animals that are born to buck to be successful.
One of the great Rodeo Companies in the PRCA today is Powder River Rodeo, LLC of Riverton, Wyoming. With more than 150 top bucking stock awards, Powder River Rodeo, has a proven system that works. Their philosophy of having fun, providing competitive animals, and proven leadership is welcome at rodeos across the country. Hank Franzen and his wife Lori, bring the experience of 31 years in the business to every rodeo they work, including the experience of providing stock at more than 25 Wrangler National Final Rodeos. The woman behind the Rodeo Company, Lori Franzen, can certainly be accredited to much of the success of Powder River Rodeo. Take a look at the interview below and get firsthand insight into what it takes to be a female stock contractor in the sport of rodeo:
MRA: How did you get involved in Rodeo?
Lori: “My family has a ranch in Gillette, WY and so I was involved in working cows and ranching activities since I was young. My dad when he was young “team tied” similar to team roping and is a great cowboy. He also was the Sheriff and so he never got to have much free time. But I’m sure that is when the seed was planted for my love of the sport.”
MRA: Did you compete in rodeo growing up?
Lori: “I competed in play days and 4H when I was young and then high school and college rodeo. Competed in barrel racing, goat tying and breakaway roping. Rodeoed for Casper College where Hank and I met and married a year after we were out of school.”
MRA: How long have you been involved in the stock contracting business?
Lori: “Hank and I started our company with a partner in 1986 for six months then we purchased the entire company on our own in February 1987. We immediately purchased our PRCA stock contracting card that February. We had to do that the hard way too by bringing in 5 rodeos and made us wait one year before we could go the NFR. That doesn’t happen that way anymore, they are pretty much purchased and roll on. Hank had his PRCA contestant card and so we knew we didn’t want to be an amateur contractor but one of the best and that was being a PRCA Stock Contractor! We have been in the business for 31 years.”
MRA: What is your favorite part about the pro rodeo industry?
Lori: “I simply love the people. I have watched and worked so closely with some amazing committees. People who are so unselfish and passionate about the sport and yet get nothing more than a simple thank you for all they do. Pro rodeo is a big family and my life has been centered around it for over 30 years. I am a firm believer that pro rodeo is the best all-around product for family entertainment.”
MRA: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not at a rodeo?
Lori: “I love spending time with our new grandson! Waited a long time to be a grandma and I am trying to spend as much time as I can with him. As far as at rodeos when we have some down time… I am not one that can sit around at all so I love to shop, sight see and eat at fun restaurants. When I’m home I enjoy my yard, flowers and love to cook/bake for my family.”
MRA: What advice do you have for young women aspiring to be a part of the rodeo industry?
Lori: “To be patient and earn respect in this predominant man’s rodeo world. There is room for confident knowledgeable women in this business but it takes time. Try to mentor someone that has been in the business a long time for a summer to see what it really entails and start from the bottom and work your way up. You will earn respect and admiration that way!! To say it doesn’t bother me that we don’t have a woman on an executive committee or the PRCA Board, it does. Hopefully that will change some day.”
MRA: What are some things the general population wouldn’t know about the behind the scenes roles of a female stock contractor?
Lori: “Most people don’t realize that we are not just the book keepers, marketers, office managers but extremely knowledgeable, capable livestock women. When Hank and I started the business I worked right by his side rounding up livestock, sorting livestock, hauling livestock, feeding livestock and still to this day If they need an extra hand I am there. Recognition of bucking ability and just general horse savvy in other words knowing by looking and watching if an animal is not at its top game. The latter takes years and years of being around livestock and not something you acquire from a book or a mentor.”
MRA: How do you balance being a wife, mother and stock contractor?
Lori: “Well first and foremost being a mother to our two amazing kids has been the most important. I have been a wife for 37 years this November and a stock contractor for 31 years and you learn to take care of the most important issues at hand. Balancing is what women do, they just adjust!! I will say that when we started the company we made a choice that we would run this as a family operation. Our two kids, Jill and John have been involved since they were able to ride a horse.”
MRA: About how many rodeos do you contract per year?
Lori: “We do about 15 pro rodeos, PRCA leases, Champion Challenges, Futurities, High School and College Rodeos. Our off time is in March thru May. Our off time is when we are having colts and readying fields for the spring.”
MRA: What does it mean to Powder River to have WNFR bucking stock? Horses/Bulls of the year?
Lori: “We have worked for 31 years and started from the ground up with our breeding program. It is the ultimate to see your hard work and dedication pay off. There is nothing more gratifying to see that baby colt five years later jump and kick over its head and become one of the best and go the WNFR. To have an animal be named as one of the best in the world is the lottery jackpot. It means and does so much for your company! It really does put you on the road map of pro rodeo. To have Khadafy placed in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame was the best thing that ever happened to us in the pro rodeo world. I will never forget the river of emotions our family felt that day at the ceremony especially since it was the first time ever that a bucking horse was alive and present at the induction. Many, many tears of joy!”
MRA: You often work as an arena director, tell us a little about what you do when fulfilling that role?
Lori: “I have been a rodeo secretary and a timer (gold card) but I found early in our career that it was much better to pay someone for those details and give me the freedom for rodeo production. I have an eye for detail and it is extremely important that the flags, shirts, banners, queens and personnel are all on the same page. Hank and I at our productions believe everything should be mapped out and we do a buck order so there is none of that screaming and guessing who is up and what chute you’re going to. I believe buck order is one of the most important things you can do to keep your rodeo professional. John or Hank will work on the list and give me the buck order then I make sure that during the production meeting that the announcers, score boards, sound technician and other committee personnel all are on the same page. I always stand in the announcer’s booth where I keep the productions moving smoothly, if something happens during the rodeo and there is a chute change with my recognition of the animals I can make those changes immediately to the announcer and we roll on without hitches. Many rodeos I will also be on headset which just makes things that much faster.”
MRA: What does it mean to raise the livestock in rodeo, talk about the care and love that goes into this?
Lori: “There is nothing like raising the animals, you gain a love and respect for their ability, athleticism and unique personalities. They are just like your kids in many ways. Each and every one is different but yet so like their parents. Genetics is so important in the bucking horse world and I believe Dr. Greg Veneklassen who we have worked with for the last five years is opening up so many new roads in the bucking horse world. I am proud to be a part of and helping with the new bucking horse registry that has started, called the Bucking Horse Breeders Association. Records are so important, I am very proud of the fact that I have very complete records of every horse in 30 years that we have raised and by doing so you can follow the genetics and improve your herd. In the spring time I spend hours watching and checking the colts…it is so rewarding and stress relieving!”
MRA: What do you want your legacy to be as a woman in rodeo?
Lori: “I want to be known as the woman that stood by her husband as an equal and built a successful rodeo company.”
MRA: From your perspective of a stock contractor what are you most proud of?
Lori: “I’m most proud that two young kids, 27 and 28 years old that had absolutely nothing 31 years ago started a business on their own and built a successful rodeo company with their family. It wasn’t bought and it wasn’t given to us….it was earned!!”