Into the Sunset | Remembering Harry Vold
They called him the Duke of the Chutes, but every year at the World Championship Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo, Texas, the late Harry Vold was more like a king holding court. And for four days every November, the 11-time PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year and ProRodeo Hall of Fame sat on a simple throne.
Perched unassumingly on a folding chair in the hallway outside of the trade show, usually with his good friend and neighbor, Rick Tune, Vold would spend the days prior to the evening rodeo performance talking to friends.
“Everybody was so glad to see him,” Tune remembers. “People that he met a long time ago that he didn’t remember would come up and visit with him. Even people who didn’t know him would introduce themselves and he was so good with them. Everybody thought Harry was a king. To me, Harry was just so down-to-earth. I had so much fun with Harry because he was such a normal guy.”
Despite its burgeoning popularity, there’s usually not much crossover between the ranch broncs and ProRodeo broncs. Because the rules and riding styles are different, if a stock contractor wants to provide broncs for ranch rodeos, he virtually has to run a separate herd. While that might not fit some of today’s ProRodeo stock contractors, Vold loved it. And he brought tough broncs. The ranch cowboys had to step up their game to cover one of his horses. There’s little debate that the presence of Vold’s stock at the ranch rodeos took the competition to a new level.
“First of all, he really liked the cowboy—the ranch cowboy—just the honest cowboy,” Tune says. “He really liked seeing those guys get on those bucking horses and he really liked the whole ranch rodeo deal.”
And it showed. The cowboys love getting in “Bar HV” broncs. Not just at the Championship, either. For years, Harry Vold Rodeo Company provided broncs to many of the regular season qualifying rodeos in his home state of Colorado. Of course, like all competitors, he relished the opportunity to be a part of the crowning event.
“Harry loved the atmosphere and everything in there,” Tune says of the World Championship Ranch Rodeo. “He loved the team penning. He got a kick out of that and besides the horses bucking, that was the deal for him.”
With his passing in March, the throne he occupied in the bucking horse world—and in the concourse at the Amarillo Civic Center, for that matter—will be empty. And the big, wide-open, wild West that he grew up in edged a bit further down the back trail when Duke of the Chutes breathed his last.
His daughter, Kirsten Vold, will carry on the tradition, and broncs packing the Bar HV will once again burst from the WCRR chutes.
“I never thought Harry would die. I thought he’d live forever. I don’t know what to say there, but it’s going to be different,” Tune says. “It will go on, Kirsten is so good and it’ll go on just like Harry would have wanted it done.”