A stout bay horse by the name of Clyde caught a lot of eyes at this year’s fall grass classic, when Jason Stewart won the 2019 Pendleton Round-Up heading for Calgary Smith aboard McKennan Buckner’s main mount. But he didn’t turn all of those heads for the same reason. Cowboy King Trevor Brazile asked to ride Clyde to run his second steer with Junior Nogueira after watching the horse work in Round 1. Others did double takes, because they knew Clyde back before he blossomed and literally gained 500 pounds.
Ryan Motes, who’ll rope at his fifth Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this month, remembers young Clyde being a borderline runt.
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“My neighbors here in Texas, Seth and T.J. Jones, had him before Brandon Beers (who was roping with Motes at the time) bought him, and Clyde was their practice horse,” Motes remembers. “Seth might heel 10 steers on him, then they’d let him blow and T.J. might head 10 on him. Clyde was little bitty—a puny, little mustang-looking horse—when Brandon bought him.
“Brandon bought Clyde for (his wife) Kimber. Then the horse filled out, and they put a lot of weight on him. I even jackpotted on Clyde one time. I’ve known that horse forever. To see him now, you wouldn’t even know it was the same horse. Clyde matured, and got big and stout.”
Clyde’s 14, and has been Buckner’s ace for four years now. Buckner bought Clyde from his fellow native of Powell Butte, Oregon—Beers—and says he’s an easy keeper all the way around these days.
“I don’t have any trouble keeping weight on Clyde with just alfalfa and Renew Gold,” said Buckner, who currently lives in Fresno, California, and estimates Clyde to be 15 hands tall and now tip the scales at a sturdy 1,300 pounds. “I was 16 years old when Brandon bought him nine years ago. He owned him five years before selling him to me, and rode him a round or two at the 2013 NFR when he was roping with Jim Ross Cooper.
“Brandon had a bone chip removed from Clyde’s knee when he owned him. But about the only routine veterinary maintenance I have to do with Clyde now is have his coffin joints, stifles and hocks injected each spring. And, of course, I get a horseshoer to put ice nails on him for Pendleton every fall, so he has his horse cleats on the grass.
“Clyde’s pretty bulletproof, he’s super sure-footed and he’s just a tough horse. I think he’s good on the grass, because he has a lot of rate and is a little front endy. Horses that really use their hind end tend to go down in the corner when it’s slick. Clyde’s also good to score at Pendleton, because you can pull him up last minute, if you have to, to get out. A lot of horses are all or nothing coming down that lane. Clyde lets you throttle him pretty easy to suit yourself.”
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Stewart started riding Clyde at Pendleton four years ago, and is grateful for the annual chance to ride him on the grass. Two years ago, Stewart and Bucky Campbell won Round 2 at the Round-Up with Clyde’s sure-footed assistance.
“He really is great on the grass,” Stewart said of Clyde, who was awarded this year’s Pendleton Round-Up Head Horse of the Year halter; Smith’s Colonel took the 2019 heeling halter. “He’s short-strided and really low to the ground, so his feet don’t slide. Clyde’s a sweetheart, but he’s all there physically. He’s one of those old-school, big-boned horses that wears a #1 shoe.
“And he scores so good. They need to score good at Pendleton, so you can really focus as you’re watching that steer come by you. Clyde throttles good, so he lets you decide when to go and how hard.”
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Clyde’s great on grass, but is the total versatility package, too. Buckner, who’s been roping with Bill Justus, rides Clyde at the rodeos. He’ll also back him into the heading box at the Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale this month at the South Point in Vegas, where Buckner will head for Justin Allen in the #13 roping and rope with Justus in the #14 roping.
“Clyde’s good, no matter where and no matter what,” Buckner said. “I’m lucky to own him and pretty proud to ride him anywhere.”