For some, breakthrough wins come at a major rodeo or jackpot. For others, like Shay Carroll, a breakthrough win means something more than money.
“This is the first buckle I won with an elite header,” Carroll said of his 2013 Jingle Bell Classic win. “I won it with Turtle Powell when we were jackpotting together a little bit this winter. It was the first one I won with a pro header like him.”
Carroll has won a College National Finals Rodeo championship and placed second at the 2012 U.S. Open, but this $5,000 jackpot meant he could win with the best in the game.
“I was riding a horse at the Jingle Bell Classic I call HK because he came off the HK Ranch,” Carroll explained. “He was owned by a friend of mine, and he wanted $30,000 for him. I wanted to buy him, but obviously I couldn’t afford him. So when I won second at the U.S. Open (with Colby Siddoway), I walked out of the arena and bought that horse.”
Carroll hadn’t owned the horse a month when he was playing in a muddy pen and sliced his foot open. The horse was laid up a year recovering, and the Jingle Bell Classic was the first roping at which he could ride him again.
What will it take to get Carroll to trade this buckle for a newer, shinier one? “It will take Salinas, Cheyenne or a go-round buckle or a gold buckle."