Dave Appleton was an elite competitor for 15 seasons in both bareback riding and saddle bronc riding. His versatility helped him reach the ultimate pinnacle of rodeo success when he won the 1988 all-around gold buckle. He defeated reigning three-time all-around champion Lewis Feild by $644 to claim the coveted title with $121,546 and become the first Australian-born cowboy to win a PRCA world championship.
Appleton also won the 1988 National Finals Rodeo bareback riding average championship and finished second in the world standings in that event.
Appleton qualified for the NFR in bareback riding eight times (1982-88, 1990) and three times more in saddle bronc riding (1984-86), highlighted by him winning the NFR saddle bronc riding average crown in 1986.
Appleton wanted to be a jockey, but grew too tall when he was 15 years old and changed his focus to the rodeo arena. He rodeoed in Australia in 1978-79 before coming over to the United States. He bought his PRCA card in 1980 and competed at the top level through 1994.
Appleton had a penchant for rising to the occasion, especially when he drew the rankest horses in the pen. They were right in his wheelhouse.
Appleton also was one of the pioneers of the PRCA patch program, which began June 1, 1990 and remains a much-needed source of revenue for PRCA cowboys. American Airlines was Appleton’s first sponsor.
World Championships: 1 (all-around, 1988)
Born January 30, 1960 in Clermont, Queensland, Australia