FORT WORTH, Texas ― Ten years ago, when it formed in 2004, some people may have wondered exactly what the American Bucking Bull, Inc. was.
The opening line of its mission statement ― "record and preserve the pedigrees of the world's premier bucking bull lineage while maintaining and enhancing the integrity and value of the American Bucking Bull breed" ― went a long way toward explaining what has since become the largest bucking bull registry in the world.
The ABBI, which was originally the idea of former PBR CEO Randy Bernard, first began registering bulls a decade ago. However, it's experienced rapid expansion of its business beginning in the 2008 season through the registration, verification and maintenance of pedigrees for the American Bucking Bull.
More importantly, the organization has gone on to provide the promotion of world class programs and events benefitting stock contractors and breeders who make up the ABBI's ever-growing membership.
"It's the only registry that's backed up by DNA," said PBR Livestock Director and longtime ABBI board member Cody Lambert, "so you're guaranteed every time you register an animal or buy an animal that's registered through the ABBI, there's no chance that animal is not bred the way his papers say he is. That's a big deal because lots of people are buying for the bloodlines."
Throughout its anniversary season, the PBR will profile the Top 20 Moments in PBR History.
This week's moment ― "It's all about the bulls" ― highlights the impact of the ABBI.
Most notably, the formation of the ABBI has helped raise the value of bucking bulls and provide stock contractors with an opportunity to compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, this year alone the ABBI will pay out more than $2 million in prize money, including a $200,000 bonus for the ABBI Classic Bull Champion and a $1 million total payout at the World Finals.
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The ABBI, which is the third-largest cattle registry in the world, registers nearly 20,000 bulls per year, and is providing more opportunities for individuals to get involved in the industry at a young age through its junior breeder program, and especially through the recent development of Back Seat Buckers.
Today, the ABBI boasts well over 160,000 registered bucking bulls.
Prior to the formation of the ABBI, rodeo announcer Bob Tallman had started a bucking stock registry. Bernard had suggested purchasing it from him, but Tallman declined and the ABBI was formed with the help of Tom Teague.
"They offered to let breeders buy into it, and that's where the shareholders came from," Lambert explained.
Although Lambert would have liked to have seen the ABBI pattern its registry requirements after the thoroughbred industry, it's much more comparable to the quarter horse registry.
According to Lambert, similar to the quarter horse registry, the ABBI allows for artificial insemination, embryo transfers and flushing.
"I wish we had done it exactly like the thoroughbreds do," he said, "but our breeders were very up on the quarter horse registry and the quarter horse association and competitions and not very interested in the thoroughbred type stuff."
The original mission statement went on to explain the ABBI would "provide beneficial services for ABBI members, which enhance and facilitate 'best practices' in bucking bull ownership, breeding, care, training and welfare.
"Generate interest and growth in ABBI through ownership, membership, education, sponsorship and involvement through marketing, promotion, advertising and publicity of the American Bucking Bull breed, ABBI membership benefits, services, competition and events."
RANK BULLS COME THROUGH THE ABBI
Numerous bulls, who have become household names, have come through the ABBI.
Early on there was Splat Kat followed by Troubadour.
Black Pearl, Bushwacker and most recently Shepherd Hills Tested have all competed at ABBI-sanctioned events.
"Those bulls were famous by the time they got to the Built Ford Tough Series," Lambert said.
Bushwacker is undoubtedly the most famous of them all.
This summer alone he was featured in ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue and twice featured on "CBS This Morning." In the past, he's been in The New York Times and twice featured in The Wall Street Journal.
However, with over $500,000 in career earnings, Black Pearl ― who is owned by Boyd and Floyd Bull Co., along with his breeders Steve and Julie Ravenscroft ― has won more money at ABBI events than any other bull in its 10-year history.
In 2007, Black Pearl was the Breeders Cup Futurity Champion and a year later he was the ABBI Reserve World Finals Classic Champion. He was the 2009 ABBI World Finals Classic Champion and ABBI Year-End Classic Champion, as well as being voted a contender for the World Champion Bull title by the top-ranked riders in the world.
On the heels of Black Pearl's success, his mother sold for $100,000, which is a record figure for a cattle cow. Money and success illustrate how important bulls are when it comes to professional bull riding.
In large part because of the work of the ABBI, the bulls are truly recognized as 50 percent of the competition.
Another crowning achievement has been the inclusion of an entire round of ABBI Classic bulls at the World Finals. This year will mark the fourth consecutive year in which Lambert filled an entire round with the top 3 and 4-year-old bulls, which further emphasizes the ABBI has helped to ensure that younger bulls are capable of competing against the top riders at the most elite event in the world.
Always striving to move the organization forward, the ABBI's mission statement ended with: "Develop diverse and comprehensive programs and events that educate and familiarize owners, members, the general public and the media in the unique heritage, history and qualities of the American Bucking Bull."
DAN MEIHAK SET TO LEAD ABBI
Following an extensive six-month long search, Vice President Russ Gant recently announced the naming of a new Executive Director for the ABBI. Dan Meihak was hired to lead the ABBI.
Meihak was most recently the Executive Director of Herd Advancement Services for Holstein Association USA, Inc. for 11 years. He has been in the livestock industry his entire life.
He said although he had been on the dairy side of the cattle industry, he has both production and management experience and what he called a "broad background" to bring with him.
"I'm very happy to be joining ABBI," said Meihak. "My goal is to make it attractive and rewarding to register bucking stock with ABBI and to help expand the popularity of our sport and bucking cattle.
"There is so much excitement around the PBR, and the livestock are a vitally important part of that. I think that excitement can extend to ABBI and our competitive bucking bull events and help to grow our side of the sport even more."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
Susan Beford and the ABBI contributed to this story.
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