ACT Central Region Saddle Bronc Riding qualifier Steve Hay of Taroom, Queensland.

Taroom, Queensland might be half a world away from Pittsburg, Texas, but for Australian bronc rider Steve Hay, he was right at home chasing his American Rodeo dream at the American Contender Tournament (ACT) qualifier held there in early May. 

Hay entered at the 62nd Annual Pittsburg Rodeo held on May 4 where he came away with the highest marked ride amongst those who entered the ACT Central Regional Semi-Finals qualifier side pot—a 74. Hay has now successfully notched his spot at the $180,000-added Central Regional Semi-Finals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, slated for February 13-15, 2025, at the Tulsa Expo.

“I saw the chance to go to the qualifier at Pittsburg and sort of started off this summer with that goal because the Contender Tournament gives the underdog a shot, I’m excited.”

— Steve Hay

The Pittsburg Rodeo was the first United Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned rodeo to host an ACT open rodeo qualifier. Hay says he couldn’t pass up the chance at an American qualifier at a rodeo where he was already entered.

“They’re good rodeos with great stock,” said Hay of the UPRA event. “I had no idea on the format of how to qualify but Paul Crain [Teton Ridge Athlete Relations] was great, he spent probably five or 10 minutes on the phone with me explaining how it all works to get qualified to the Regional Semi-Finals and hopefully on to Arlington. It’s so easy, it just makes sense.”

Hay plans to rodeo throughout the summer in the U.S. and venture north of the border to Ponoka and other select Canadian rodeos. 

Chasing good bucking horses across the U.S. and Australia began back in 2018 for Hay, but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Hailing from an area in northeast Australia that he describes as both rural and isolated, Hay came stateside with his bareback riding brother Dallas intent on rodeoing out of Cody, Wyoming. The chance to get on as many broncs as possible at the famed Cody Nite Rodeo was one the team of Aussies couldn’t resist. As an added bonus, the Hay brothers’ American voyage back in 2018 coincided nicely with the PRCA’s launch of a series of roughstock clinics that proved beneficial. 

“I learned a lot there from the clinicians,” said Hay. “All the clinicians were great. I guess as far as someone else I admire a lot or would pattern myself after would be Billy Etbauer, he’s just like the GOAT of the sport of bronc riding, plus the way he carries himself makes him someone who’s easy to look up to and model after.

“My dad rode broncs; he’s a no excuses type of guy who always gives it to me straight. I’m pretty self-taught with my dad helping me; I rode bulls all through high school but switched to broncs later. We were traveling around rodeoing then I ended up having to take two years off with a broken back.” 

At a rodeo in New South Wales where he placed second Hay sustained the serious back injury. 

“I got off the horse okay and got out of the arena,” he said. “As I was getting packed up, I felt a bit sore, but wasn’t really thinking anything much was wrong. We were getting ready to go and all the sudden I couldn’t stand, which was weird. For a couple of months, I was sore. I got X-rays and all of that, but they didn’t really reveal much. Whenever I rode it felt like I had a knife in my back.” 

Eventually Hay had an MRI and consulted with different specialists to get some answers. 

“It took a long time, but what they found was some fractures and a bulged disk. I took two years off after that to heal up,” he said. “After that we were kind of stuck due to COVID so it’s really good to finally be back.” 

During that downtime Hay bought property in Australia and continued to ranch with his family, all the while hungry to get back on the rodeo trail. Hay says winning $1 million would help him pay off his ranch, the perfect vision of American Rodeo Dreams for an Aussie cowboy.

Other qualifiers from the 62nd Annual Pittsburg Rodeo were Bella Skinner, who qualified in both Breakaway Roping and Barrel Racing, and Connor Griffith who notched his spot at Tulsa in the Bareback Riding.

For information on upcoming qualifiers visit or find on our Athlete Facebook page.

Connor Griffith qualified at Pittsburg for the ACT Central Regional Semi-Finals in bareback riding.