North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductee - 2000
Owned by the Aber Rodeo Company of Beach, Old Shep was one of the great bucking horses.
Born north of Wibaux, Montana, in 1964, he was purchased by Bob Aber as a two-year-old colt from the Hanson Brothers north of Richardton. Aber took him to rodeos in North Dakota, eastern Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota and leased him out to other rodeo contractors who needed extra rodeo stock.
A sorrel gelding, Old Shep stood nearly 16 hands tall and weighed about 1,400 pounds. He was a solid campaigner and anyone who managed to ride him placed and took home prize money.
During Old Shep’s long and illustrious career, he was chosen for the National Finals Rodeo 15 consecutive years. In 1975, he was voted top saddle bronc horse in the world at the NFR and the #2 bucking horse of the year for two consecutive years from 1970 through 1984. He also earned the Home On the Range Champions’ Ride “best bronc” honors five times.
Those saddle-bronc riders who managed to stay on Old Shep usually placed in U.S. rodeos, including Cheyenne Frontier Days; Bronc Riding Match at Malta, Montana; and the Wolf Point (Montana) Match. Old Shep was also voted top saddle bronc at North Dakota’s premier saddle-bronc rodeo, the Champion’s Ride at Home on the Range in Sentinel Butte, for a record-setting five times.
The Official History of the NFR describes Old Shep as a “stellar performer.” Rodeo records indicate that North Dakota has never produced another rodeo horse that comes close to Old Shep’s record.
Old Shep was put to sleep in 1993 at age 31 and is buried in an honored place on the Aber Ranch north of Beach.