$362,000. The largest paycheck at the 2017 World Series of Team Roping Finale. And Erick Alvarado won it on his fancy, hard-stopping, home-bred, leopard Appaloosa named Stud Muffin, and Will Jones rode his double-bred Hancock head horse named Spook, who bucked until he was 6.
They were the high team back and won the #10 Yeti Finale with a time of 30.99 seconds on four head. That short round steer was only the eighth steer the pair has roped together, after pairing up at the Levelland, Texas qualifier this August thanks to Jeremy Suber.
“I had a few questions, but after the first one, I was sold. I was all-in,” Jones said of the first time he roped with Alvarado on Stud Muffin. That was in Levelland, where they won the #10 and $11,880.
Before that win in Levelland, Alvarado, a truck driver in the West Texas oilfields, had never been to a World Series of Team Roping Finale. But he thought he oughta put his name down with Jones in Vegas.
Jones, of Mertzon, Texas, won ninth and $29,000 last year in the #10 Finale. Alvarado was confident in his ace header, but not so sure about himself.
“I was nervous as hell.” Alvarado said. “I forgot all about being scared when those gates banged.”
“I was just trying to get them down,” Jones added. “Once I get that first one knocked down I feel confident. This is a world class event. I love coming here—it’s my favorite roping.”
Jones, a father of a 3-month-old and a 2-year-old, said he’ll use the money to pay off his home, while Alvarado has some pressing doctor bills to take care of.
“Babies are not cheap,” Alvarado laughed. He’s got two boys—one 5 and one 3 months.
While Jones grew up ranching and has been roping as long as he can remember, Alvarado came to the sport a little later.
“I started roping when I was 11 and headed until I was 17, then didn’t rope for a couple years,” Alvarado said. “Then started back heeling.”
Jones bought his fancy grey gelding, 10-year-old Spook, at the Western Heritage Sale as a colt.
“He’s been great ever since he stopped bucking when he was 6,” Jones said. “He’s double-bred Hancock.”
Alvarado’s iconic App was given to him as a weanling by his uncle, who owned a pure-bred Appaloosa stud and some really, really old mares.
“I didn’t even know you could breed mares as old as he did,” Alvarado said. “But he did, and he said I would get the first colt, and that was him.”
When asked if this would raise the price on Stud Muffin, Alvarado laughed: “That Appy’s price has been pretty high.”