Texans Jason Burson and Polo Cavazos were the first team to rope four steers in under 45 seconds in the Ariat World Series of Team Roping's Practice Pen Qualification Saturday, April 11—paying their way into Las Vegas's Finale this December.
The new concept—announced by the World Series of Team Roping April 10 in response to the nationwide hold on events caused by COVID-19—gives ropers a chance to best a set-time in order to notch a qualification spot in Las Vegas. Ropers can choose their own cattle, arena and partner in the #10.5, #9.5 and #8.5 in a barrel-roping format.
For their $150-per-roper entry fee, Burson and Cavazos entered by text message and had to beat the association's 45-second par to have their fees paid in Las Vegas.
Instructions for Barrel-Roping Set-Up:
STEP 1. Measure the barrel distance from the chute to the barrel with a quick recorded measurement verification. The camera should measure the tape at the beginning (chute) and follow the measurement to the barrel, making sure to record at 60 feet.
STEP 2. Each roper, on horseback, must face the camera and for audio purposes the camera operator will introduce them: name, ID#, say if they are heading or heeling;
STEP 3. Immediately ride in the box and proceed to rope all four steers, We will start the clock when the gate opens. The header can rope the horns at any time but must turn past the barrel (or marker).
"I didn't take any convincing to try this out," Burson, a 34-year-old father of two, rancher and horseman from Sealy, Texas, said. "I saw the video Saturday morning when I woke up, and I lined up some people to come over that afternoon. I'm bored without any ropings to go to. I've been roping every day, but I don't. have anywhere to go."
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Burson texted Cavazos, who had a day off off from his job as a structural welder.
"I've been a World Series member now for several years, and I'd been to a few qualifiers already this year," Cavazos said. "Jason sent me that link, and I said, 'OK let's do it.' He said, 'Be here at 3 p.m.' I called him and warned him I hadn't ridden a horse since the March World Series in Kinder, Louisiana, but he said he's seen me rope better when I haven't been practicing anyway."
The association mandates either roper or the videographer have a Facebook account to enter, so the team used Burson's because Cavazos didn't have an account. Burson also texted the office in Albuquerque to enter (505-270-1919).
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"I had somebody there opening the chute, somebody taking the ropes off and the guy videoing it," Burson said. "That pretty much had everything covered."
Burson keeps fresh steers and older steers at his arena, and their team opted for the slower steers for the barrel-roping format.
"After doing it, it probably would have been better to have some faster steers in there that maybe tried a little," Burson said. "I didn’t think I was nervous, and when we were practicing, I was turning the steers right at the barrel. But when it went live, I was like, 'Man I better take another swing!' When you put your money up it’s a little different."
Cavazos had to bounce back from a leg on their third steer to seal the deal.
"I think Jason was more nervous than I was," Cavazos said. "When it comes down to four steers, there’s always butterflies. But for the most part I was pretty cool. It’s just like going to any jackpot—you put your money up and you do your best."
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Burson rode a less experienced 10-year-old he's only had for a few months, while Cavazos rode a 21-year-old veteran.
"He's the only horse I have right now," Cavazos said. "I call him Bay. He was a little nervous in the box, but I'd just started him on Kahm CBD last month. It really made a difference."
This will be Cavazos first Finale qualification, and Burson's second.
"This is a really great idea the World Series had, and I'd like to thank them for that," Burson said. "They put a lot of thought into it. People kept talking about all the ways to cheat, but once you put the video together you realize they thought everything out. It worked really well."
"It will help out a lot of ropers with pens at home," Cavazos added. "There are a lot of ropers not blessed with a pen in their backyard, but they are blessed with good friends who will allow them to come rope. I really like it. It’s a good setup and good idea." TRJ