Preston Pederson Prevails at Pendleton Despite Problems
"One of them said my horse was bleeding."
Preston Pederson dismounts at the 2023 Pendleton Round-Up
Preston Pederson dismounts at the 2023 Pendleton Round-Up. Photo by Click Thompson

The Pendleton Round-Up always plays a big role in the final maneuvering for the circuit finals rodeo in the Columbia River Circuit and 2023 was absolutely no exception.

READ MORE: What the HECK is Happening on the Tie-Down Roping World Standings Bubble in 2023?

Perennial circuit finals competitors like Cody Craig and Preston Pederson made their final pushes on the famed Pendleton grass; Pederson was ranked 17th prior to Pendleton but a fourth-place finish and $7,788 in earnings will guarantee his spot at the Columbia River Circuit Finals in Redmond, October 19-21.

“I knew I had to do something in that last round [at Pendleton],” Pederson, 26, said. “It came together and I’m shaped up for another circuit finals. I didn’t make it last year so hoping I will get off to a good start on 2024 there in Redmond and keep the ball rolling.”

Preston Pederson finishes a run at the Pendleton Round-Up
Photo by Click Thompson

“One of them said my horse was bleeding.”

Pederson’s run through Pendleton was not without drama, and not just from his position in the circuit standings.

“I made a good run on my first one and was 9.3, which won the last hole in the round,” Pederson said. “In the second round, I made another good run and was 10.2, which ended up the last hole in the round again.

“When I roped the second one, I had the second fastest time behind Tuf [Cooper] in that slack and when I rode back, my friends came up to congratulate me, that I had sealed the deal to make the short go, and one of them said my horse was bleeding.”

Vets on deck

In fact, 18-year-old Valentine was gushing blood from his leg. Fortunately, Dr. Jared Sharp, who practices with Idaho Equine in Nampa but is an Oregonian by birth and a former rodeo competitor himself, was on hand and came over to inspect the wound.

“He said we needed to get pressure on it to stop the bleeding,” Pederson explained. Fellow competitor Cody Collins offered up the socks he was wearing as a pressure bandage and someone found a rope to fashion a tourniquet above the wound.

“He had cut open a blood vessel in his leg. The best we can figure, the snap on the tie-down caused it.”

Local vet Dr. Fred Robinson stitched the wound up and Pederson was able to continue competing on his number one.

“It was really lucky how everything worked out and I am so thankful that Jared was there right when it happened.”

Pederson’s main mount

Valentine has been Pederson’s main squeeze since he bought the gelding from family friend and PRCA World Champion Fred Whitfield in 2016.

“Fred owned, raised and trained him and I bought him from him after he retired,” Pederson said. “Fred actually left him with me for a couple of months before I ever bought him and when he picked him up, Valentine was giving me a look like, ‘don’t make me leave.’

“I knew then that I had to put together the money to try to buy him and I was lucky to have the chance to down the road,” he said.

Together, Pederson and Valentine have earned more than $25,000 this year, including an appearance in in Denver and Tucson as well as Pendleton, all while Pederson wrapped up his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas.’

It all shakes out

Whitfield, who was honored with induction into the Pendleton Round-Up Hall of Fame on the eve of the 2023 rodeo, was on hand for Pederson’s preliminary rounds.

“We actually drove in together for the slack,” Pederson said. “It was cool to have him there for that.”

With Valentine patched up, Pederson laid down his best run in the short round, an 8.9-second effort that earned second in the round and clinched the big average check with 28.4 on three calves.

“I’ve roped there quite a few times and never had things go my way before,” Pederson said. He grew up just down the road in Hermiston and has spent a fair share of his childhood on the grass. “After not being sure he wouldn’t bleed out in the slack, coming back and doing well was great.

“We came close to taking the title this time and we’ll come back next year and try again.”

Pederson figures Valentine has a handful of years left to compete and he’s planning to make the most of the time, heading south now that the Columbia River Circuit’s regular season in done.

“I’m going to go back south and try to get qualified for a couple of the [winter] building rodeos,” he said. “The new year begins October 1 and I hope to have seven or eight rodeos in before I come back for the circuit finals . . . and then add to it there.”

Columbia River Circuit standings as of September 18, 2023

RankAthleteHometownMoney Won
1Joel Braden HarrisSan Angelo, Texas$24,521.46
2Tuf CooperDecatur, Texas$24,237.18
3Lane LivingstonSeymour, Texas$23,249.21
4Ty HarrisSan Angelo, Texas$21,663.30
5Jake PrattEllensburg, Washington$20,915.50
6Cody CraigWendell, Idaho$18,606.39
7Paden BrayStephenville, Texas$18,447.95
8Bo PickettCaldwell, Idaho$18,426.95
9Preston PedersonHermiston, Oregon$16,262.73
10Beau CooperStettler, Alberta$14,628.81
11Trevor HalePerryton, Texas$13,021.71
12Luke PotterMaple City, Kansas$12,400.19