Bob ‘Aber’ Abernathy
North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductee - 2010
Bob ‘Aber’ Abernethy has been intimately involved with the sport of rodeo throughout his life. He was born in 1934 and raised on a ranch north of Sentinel Butte.
Aber began competing in bareback riding and joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1953. He was the North Dakota bareback champion in 1956, 1967 and 1968. He won the All-around at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron in 1956 and in Salt Lake City in 1957.
While sitting in the top five in the National PRCA standings in 1959, Aber was seriously injured with a fractured neck, which later contributed to his early retirement from competition. He then took up rodeo judging, stock contracting and rodeo producing. He has produced the North Dakota Winter Show rodeo since 1963.
Over the years, Aber has also produced the Home On The Range Champions Ride, West Fargo College Rodeo, Mandan Jaycees Rodeo, Jamestown Buffalo Days Rodeo, Dickinson Roughrider Days Rodeo and the Wolf Point (Montana) Stampede.
He and Duane Howard conducted one of the first rodeo schools in the U.S., held in Beach. Many of the young men who attended went on to become well-known rodeo contestants. As a result of the rodeo school, the two appeared on “To Tell the Truth” in New York City.
Over the years, Aber has provided stock for many rodeos throughout North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming and the National Finals Rodeo for 30 consecutive years beginning in 1966.
He holds the record as the only pro-rodeo contractor to have the top animal in each riding event at the NFR, including Old Shep (1975 Saddle Bronc of the Year), Double Jeopardy (1977 Bareback Horse of the Year) and Top Hand (1977 NFR #1 Bull of the Year). Aber also received seven additional plaques from the NFR for saddle broncs and bareback horses. His horse, Old Shep, was the first bucking horse inducted into the NDCHF.
He is well-known for the care he provides his animals, which is instrumental in his producing great rodeos. Aber has owned a ranch north of Beach since 1967, and he and his wife Sally now live in Beach.