The American Heritage: A Risk Worth Taking

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ABBI (American Bucking Bull Inc.) is an organization that was developed to enhance the value of the American Bucking Bull breed by keeping the integrity of the registry and improve the bucking bull business as a whole. The American Heritage event itself was created to be one of the biggest payouts a bucking bull could earn as a two-year-old, with the concept of betting on your breeding and genetic foundation. It is a known risk stock contractors have been taking for years by relying solely on their bloodlines themselves and that is where the event name originated.

The American Heritage began as an idea almost 20 years ago between Dillon Page of D&H Cattle Co. and then ABBI Executive Director Joe Merrick. Page brought the idea to Merrick who modeled the event after an AQHA horse program.

“I can’t take credit for coming up with the futurity concept.” Merrick said. “It’s a method of creating a large purse or pot for a competitive livestock event that we just borrowed from the racing quarter horse industry and then modified it to fit the bucking bull world.”

The event kicked off in Ardmore, Oklahoma while being produced by Page, but was turned over to the ABBI due to the lack of interest, in hopes that the event would grow with the company. After Merrick took over, the “American Heritage” was born and in 2006 ABBI produced their first event with Outa Da Bleu from Circle T Ranch winning the title with a score of 86 points for $50,000.

“We wanted to name what we hoped to be the highest paying bucking bull event each year in a manner that paid tribute to the pioneer breeders who came before us and laid the genetic foundation for the great bulls of today.” Merrick said. “We felt their contribution to the future generations was our heritage from them, so we named it with them in mind.”

“I believe the event name itself reminds our members what the concept of the American Heritage actually is.” Said ABBI President Jay Daugherty. “It is a bet on genetics and breeding programs alone. There is some risk, of course, but that is what adds to the excitement and brings an entirely different approach to the competition.”

The core concept of the futurity format is that participants begin to build the purse with nominations and sustaining payments months before they know if their entry, or hopefully entries, will be competitive. If everyone is allowed to wait to enter until they know which calf from their crop is best, the number of entries is so depleted that the value of the event, and consequently the value of the potential winner, is greatly reduced. 

“At its best, the futurity system creates value for the calves that are nominated and have been kept eligible for a big payoff event.” Merrick explained. “Additionally, the breed itself enjoys higher demand and new people coming into the business who are attracted by the big purses and payoffs.”

“We aren’t supposed to know who is going to win the event before it actually takes places, that is why nominations have always been done in March of the calf’s yearling year.” Daugherty added. “With great risk comes great reward and that has always been a large part of the American Heritage event.”

Although these last 20 years have altered the approach to the American Heritage, eliminating a lot of why it was created in the first place, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and remind everyone what this event stands for and what it means to and for our industry.

“As I said before, we felt like our main job besides keeping the integrity of the registry was to improve the value of ABBI registered bucking cattle.” Merrick said. “That’s the best way we could provide benefit to our breeders for their efforts and expense. By offering opportunities to compete for unprecedented payoffs we hoped to create excitement, lure new players into the bucking bull family and grow the registry and the business as a whole.”

“Bucking calves and trying to get ‘ahead of the game’ take away from the American Heritage event in is entirety.” Daugherty said. “We have to take a step back and not allow ourselves to get so caught up in the winning aspect of this event but focus on the core values and what the event truly represents.”

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