Nelson Wyatt, 2017’s Resistol Rookie Header of the Year, clinched that title aboard two horses: his main mount, Nemo, and his backup grey, Teddy Bear. Since then, Teddy Bear has become Wyatt’s go-to gelding, and a favorite for ropers to watch.
Registered as WYO Pay N Play, the grey was purchased as a 3-year-old by Wyatt in a partnership deal, but it wasn’t long before the young header bought out his partner for full ownership of the now 12-year-old horse.
“The people that I partnered with him on had a little girl that named him Teddy Bear,” said Wyatt, who finished fourth in the 2020 PRCA world standings while riding Teddy Bear with $166,390.27 in season earnings. “By the time he was mine, I had already been calling him that. I get plenty of heck about it. He’s the furthest thing from a teddy bear, too. He’s more like a grizzly bear. He came from Woody Bartlett. He’s out of a Woody Bartlett stud and a Bill Smith mare. He’s got a Bartlett brand on him and a circle seven.”
When Wyatt took over the partnership, he was in college, trying to train the young head horse, which didn’t call for much slow work.
“He was broke when I got him. He had been heeled on a little bit, but no heading. I just kind of treated him like a practice horse to begin with. I just started running steers on him. He always had a lot of ability, but he always has been a little hard-headed, or stubborn. I probably didn't help him as much as I could have coming up. The older he got, the more mature-minded he got.”
Wyatt would rope on Teddy Bear at jackpots and eventually had to convince himself that the horse was ready to hit the rodeo road in the spring of 2019.
“I was at home getting ready to go for the summer and I made myself leave my other horse at home for a month and ride him,” Wyatt said. “I rode him for a month, and he was good. Then, we left for the summer and I rode my other horse at four or five rodeos and wasn’t winning. I rode Teddy Bear at Red Lodge in the summer of ’19. Levi (Lord) and I ended up winning a lot that summer and I stayed on him the rest of the year.”
“It’s crazy that it took me that long to do it, but then I finally did say, ‘Hey! This is your best horse.’ Maybe it took him that long or maybe it took me that long, but it was definitely good for me when I finally made myself ride him.”
The reason Wyatt never wanted to load the horse in the trailer is because he was difficult to score.
“It was more for me a mental deal because he was a horse that I trained,” Wyatt admitted. “I didn’t trust what I had done with him, as far as having him since he was a colt. I just didn’t trust the whole process and, finally, I had to make myself say that he was good enough and give it a try.”
When he finally did give Teddy Bear a chance, Wyatt discovered the horse had been ready, despite his habit of holding his head to the left in the box.
“Growing up, I wanted him to be so perfect in so many places that I really wouldn’t let him be him and let him do it the way that he wanted to do it, which I should have the whole time. I needed to change myself to him instead of making him change for me. I’ve never got as many good starts consistently as I do on him.”
Wyatt is currently 32nd in the Pro Rodeo heading standings with $14,646.72 as of July 1, 2021.