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Brighton’s bucking rodeo star: 5 Star’s Archie shines at NFR

Marty Johns, left, and Paul Bowers Jr. stand in the pen with their bucking horse, Archie, in Brighton. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

BRIGHTON — Archie, a 10-year-old bucking horse, is enjoying some well-earned relaxation after a winning performance Dec. 3 at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas.

Archie belongs to Marty Johns and Paul Bowers Jr., owners of 5 Star Rodeo Holdings on the Brighton Reservation. Archie earned fourth place in the annual event at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“That’s the Super Bowl of rodeos,” said Mackenzie Bowers, who is the daughter of Johns and is married to Bowers. “It’s rare for a Native American to go to NFR, and being the first Seminole tribal members to be part of it is great.”

In 2018, Johns purchased Archie, who was being used as a practice horse in Canada.

“He was a bucker and was the type of horse I like to have in my rodeo [herd],” Johns said. “We nurtured him, made him a solid horse and gave him a home in Florida. He’s part of our family and he fits right in with us. It didn’t take him long to adjust to our climate.”

“From a horse that was just an everyday practice pen horse to a NFR saddle bronc horse. ‘Wow’ is all I can say,” Mackenzie Bowers said on 5 Star’s social media.

Bucking horses are bred to buck, according to Bowers. During rodeos a fleece-lined flank is put around the horse’s belly, like a belt. The horse tries to get it off, so he kicks out as he bucks.

“Archie is special,” Mackenzie Bowers said. “He is really flashy, hangs high up in the air and gets all fours extended when he bucks. He’s huge like a draft cross with a pot belly. The older he gets, the better he bucks.”

Cowboys who remain on Archie for a full eight seconds tend to get scores of 85 or higher, however, since he is difficult to stay on, he is put in the eliminator pen to eliminate the cowboys. At home, it’s a different story. Mackenzie Bowers compared him to a pet horse.

“His personality is easy going,” she said. “He’s an easy keeper and doesn’t fight you. He just knows his job.”

That placid demeanor is present in the rodeo chute, where he quietly stands still as the saddle is put on. Only when the gate opens does his aggressiveness erupt.

As a rodeo stock contractor, 5 Star has horses, bulls and steers for use in rodeos. Paul Bowers Jr. spends a lot of time with the animals. He was with Archie at NFR, which drew nearly 170,000 spectators over 10 days, according to the organization. Before the event, Bowers was in the preload area of the chutes and said the horse looked jittery and his ears were back.

“I walked over to him and said ‘I’m here,’” he said. “His ears perked forward, he turned his head and looked at me. I told him I know it’s loud, but God put us here for a purpose. He put his head down and looked calm, like he was standing at the house. I prayed with him and told him there was nothing to be afraid of. He just looked at me and nodded and blew a little bit. I thought it was a very special moment.”

Bowers talks to all the horses when he feeds them and puts them in the pens in Brighton. He said he is around horses more than people and communicates well with them.

“When he went out and bucked that night, it was amazing,” he said. “The crowd was so loud I couldn’t hear anything. I was bucking with him because I was bouncing around on the chute. He had just one rider that night. He showed everybody what he was there for.”

Johns and Bowers have had animals in the NFR before, the last time was 2012. This was their first win. Archie traveled to Las Vegas with another horse, which made the trip less stressful.

“You never know how they will perform at the big show,” Johns said. “He knows his job and it worked out.”

Archie, a bucking horse from 5 Star Rodeo Holdings in Brighton, tries to buck off Ryder Wright during the competition Dec. 3, 2021, at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. (Courtesy photo)
Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at