From the age of 8, PRCA Gold Card holder, Dave Wagner began accumulating buckles and saddles competing in timed-event and rough stock anywhere he could find to enter. He didn’t care what event it was. He just liked to win. Junior and Youth rodeos blended into High School rodeos (State Bull Riding Champion 1970 and 1971), then College rodeos (Big Sky Region Bull Riding Champion 1972 and 1973), and onto Open (MRA 1972 and 1973) and Amateur rodeos (NRA Champion Bull Rider 1973 and 1974).
In 1975, at age 24, Dave got his Pro card, deciding to focus on bull riding. That decision produced 5 Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Championships- 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, and 1980 - a PRCA record for consecutive championships. “Match of Champions,” a Bob Burkhart bronze, commemorates this achievement.
Dave won his first PRCA Circuit year-end championship in 1976. At that time there were no Finals rodeos, only an Awards Banquet. The National Circuit system was in its infancy, created in 1974 by NFR bronc rider, Larry Jordan. Dave’s childhood friend and traveling partner Bud Munroe (1997 PRCA World Champion) won the Montana Circuit saddle bronc championship in 1976 also. At the Awards Banquet, even though Dave wasn’t there because he had a sales meeting for his job with Lee Clothing, his dad proudly accepted his saddle for him, and Bud Munroe nominated Dave to be Manager of the Montana Circuit. Dave, ever devoted to the development of his sport, accepted the position, and immediately set out to accomplish his vision for the Montana Circuit. His leadership set the tone and led the nation in developing the National Circuit system that recognized cowboys who chose not to travel to qualify for the NFR or make rodeo their full-time occupation. They were equally talented in the arena, but they had businesses, ranches or jobs that required their time and attention during the week. Dave wanted an incentive for these contestants because they make up the majority of the PRCA membership. The Circuit system gave them the honor and recognition they deserved while also building enticement for members to rodeo within their circuit.
In 1979, under his leadership, Montana put on the first Circuit Finals rodeo in the nation. The first National Circuit Finals Rodeo was produced in San Diego in 1980. Dave represented the Montana Circuit as Bull Riding Champion. Dave also finished 18th in the PRCA world standings that year. He might have been NFR bound, but true to his nature, Dave sacrificed the lucrative Cowboy Christmas rodeos over the 4th of July choosing to stay close to home not wanting to chance missing the birth of his son. His priorities were always God and family first.
In 1980, wrapping up his fifth year-end championship, Dave also won the average at the Finals. He could take care of sponsors, committees, fans, fellow contestants and still focus on winning his own event. Dave Wagner is Cowboy to the core.
At the completion of the 1989 circuit finals rodeo, after 29 years of rodeo competition; 14 years competing in pro rodeo, qualifying for 14 consecutive pro finals, Dave decided that was his last ride. He knew when the craving to get on wasn’t there as strong as he wanted that that was the time to hang it up. Wisdom from faith in God guided him.
Even after his riding career was over, he continued to devote time and energy to rodeo, putting on schools, helping produce rodeos, and serving on several boards. As owner of Connolly Saddlery, Dave provides trophy saddles for many associations; sponsors and promotes as much as he can in the name of rodeo and all things western. In 2011 he was honored by the PRCA Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit with the Dr. Keith Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognized Dave’s contributions and love of rodeo. Dave has proudly served on the Circuit Board as committee representative and treasurer from 2000 to 2022 and remains involved to this day always wanting to help advance the sport in any way he can.
Comments will be approved before showing up.