"Every good horse has a good story," said 9-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier-turned team roping teacher Tyler Magnus. "Special things happen to them at certain times in their lives that you think will be devastating but end up being the best thing that could have happened."
A bay horse by the name of BMG Custom Hotrod, or Bullseye, is no different. At the George Strait Team Roping Classic in 2004, Kansas Quarter Horse trainer Jamie Stover had the Colonel Hotrodder-bred horse there and Bullseye was, to put it mildly, a little fractious.
"He was still pretty wild," Magnus said. "I just felt all his natural talent and speed. He was real deep and tough. He had all the natural talent and just needed a friend for it to come into play."
But that’s where Magnus has made a niche for himself in the industry. He has an eye for potential in horseflesh and a feel for what any individual horse might need to reach the next level.
"Tyler does such a good job finding them and knows what to look for," long-time friend Charly Crawford said. "Bullseye has always been kind of spooky and stuff, but he was real young. I could tell he had a great feel and I knew that when he grew into his own, he’d be something that you’d love to have."
Magnus bought him on the spot and after just one year of working with the horse, he had him on the path to a top-notch rodeo mount.
"In 2005, my horses were going cripple," Crawford said. " Tyler let me take Bullseye a few places and I remember thinking, when this horse gets older, we need to make sure somebody who is rodeoing has him. It was just one of those horses you could tell when he got older he was going to be great. You could take him anywhere and win, you just didn’t want to ruin him by taking him too soon. So Tyler had him and would take him to jackpots."
But just about the time the horse was coming into his own, Magnus sold him, but he never forgot him.
Lane Wall was a lower-numbered roper from south Texas, who used the horse at amateur ropings for a couple
By 2008, Magnus was ready to get back on the rodeo road.
"The day after the Wildfire roping, when I left the short round, I knew if I was going to go, I needed that horse," he said. "I was up at San Antonio and called Lane and told him to meet me in San Antonio with the horse. I gave twice as much for him as I sold him for. He met me at San Antonio and I literally saddled him in the parking lot and trotted him in the arena. I placed in two rounds and the average there, was third in the average at San Angelo, placed in a round at Tucson and won third at the Mike Cervi. I won almost $25,000 on him the first week I had him back."
Later that year, Magnus’s plans changed and he didn’t pursue his 10th Wrangler NFR qualification.
"Charly is probably the best friend I got and he always stayed with me since he started coming to Texas," Magnus said. "One of Charly’s horses was crippled, Tejas. I told him I thought it was time for him to have Bullseye, I didn’t need him anymore, I wasn’t going. He said, ‘What’s the deal?’ I said, ‘No deal, just take him.’ He did and wound up buying him about a year later."
And Tejas wasn’t the only horse in Crawford’s stable going down. Armadillo, his signature mount, was injured on and off for most of the 2008 season.
"It was just one of those deals that when Tyler finally decided he was ready, that I got him," Crawford said. "I won most of my money on him. I had a few other horses go down and he just got stuck at the No. 1 spot and he took to it awesome."
Crawford quickly found out just how good he was. Bullseye was versatile and honest, and by the end of 2009 Crawford’s colleagues voted him as the third-best heading horse in the PRCA behind four-time winner Walt, owned by Travis Tryan and Sic ‘Em, owned by Trevor Brazile.
"He’s such a great horse," Crawford said. "He scores good and you can ride him anywhere from the Finals to Salinas, he fits every situation so good. He scores good and he never ducks. He’s real strong where he can come back if he needs to in a little arena, but he’s not too hard that you can’t take him to Cheyenne or Salinas. And he finishes good.
"There are so many guys who rope good, but there’s a reason why Travis Tryan wins so much: Walt is incredible. My horse is nowhere near him, but it is comforting to know that you have a good one that gives you a chance every time. He’s one of the first ones I’ve had that’s been that good every single time in every set up. It’s fun to ride something like that.
"Walt’s the best ever. He’s had a tumor and overcame that, had ringbone and overcame that. He’s so tough and he’s still that old and he’s still out here. I can’t take anything away from Scooter, but those are the best two ever. There’s been so many good ones, Viper, too. But you’re talking my horse and the ones that make the Finals are the top 10 percent of horses out there that are just great. Then you talk about your 1 percent that are just freaks like Walt, Scooter, Viper and Sic ‘Em. Those horses just have God-given talent. To be able to see that in your own era of rodeoing is pretty cool."
Speaking of the Finals, that’s where Bullseye truly shined for his jockey. Crawford, and his partner Russell Cardoza, won $64,135 each there—the fourth highest total of the NFR—as well as third in the average and made the highest leap in the world standings of any competitors other than the new world champions Nick Sartain and Kollin VonAhn.
"I never even worried about getting off of Bullseye," Crawford said. "If I needed to go fast, I could do that on him. Or if I needed to stay consistent like I was, he wasn’t going to take a shot away from me. If I missed the barrier a little bit, he was going to stay running. I had no intention of getting off of him, just because he fits that situation so good and I have full confidence, so I didn’t have to think of a whole lot except for just score and react to what my steer does. It was fun to have so many things play to your advantage: a great partner and a great horse. Seems like it was a lot of pressure taken off me this year."