Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves’ hard-running efforts over 2021’s Cowboy Christmas resulted $30,465-earnings for the week.
After winning the Livingston (Montana) Roundup Rodeo with a 3.6-second run, worth $6,137 a man; and the Home of the Champions Rodeo in Red Lodge, Montana, with a 4.0-second run, worth $4,912 a man; placing second at the Killdeer (North Dakota) Mountain Roundup PRCA Rodeo with a 4.1, worth $2,264 a man; second at the Cody (Wyoming) Stampede with a 4.1-second run, worth $6,835 a man; and second at the Greeley (Colorado) Stampede with a 4.1-second run, worth $5,115 a man; the pair headed to the Oakley (City, Utah) ) Independence Day Rodeo with $25,263 each.
Egusquiza, a three-time NFR qualifier, and Graves, a 12-time NFR qualifier, closed the weekend on Monday, July 5, 2021, by adding $5,202 to each of their earnings with a 3.3-second run to set the arena record in Oakley City, Utah, which tied the team roping world record for fastest time set in 2009 by Chad Masters and Jade Corkill at the Wrangler NFR.
The record-tying run resulted in Cowboy Christmas earnings of $30,465 each.
“I told Travis that my goal before it started was that I wanted to break $30,000, because I didn’t know if any other team roping team has ever done that,” said Egusquiza, the 2016 Resistol Rookie Header of the Year. “I think the record was when Trevor (Brazile) had like $39,000 won one year (over three events). It came down to last night. I knew we had around $26,000 won. We had to at least win second last night.”
“Me and Clay Tryan won $20– or 21,000, one time,” Graves said. “That was the best I’ve ever done until now.”
Egusquiza has had the goal set for himself to rope a steer in 3.3 seconds ever since he watched Masters and Corkill break that NFR arena record in 2009.
“I was probably 12 or 13 when I watched them,” Egusquiza said. “Besides from a World Champion, that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do: beat the world record and tie the world record and have my name in there with those guys. It feels like it’s been a long time coming. To finally get that done is an awesome feeling.”
Egusquiza caught the steer around the neck and dallied off at the tail end of his rope, which eventually popped off his saddle horn after the flagger gave them a quick flag.
“It’s just one of those deals that happen in rodeo,” Egusquiza said. “It could have went either way. He could have held it a little longer and probably wouldn’t have given us a flag because my rope popped off. I think he flagged it normal. He looked and we were tight and he flagged it and at the same time my rope was popping off. It’s just one of those things. My horse hadn’t been facing great. I’ve been just pulling him around. Last night I had my rope pinched off at the tail and that sucker just jumped around and was running backwards.”
Egusquiza rode Jack—the sorrel head horse that he tapped for the NFR in 2020—in the quick setups, including Oakley City, Livingston and Greeley.
“Jack is more of my faster setup horse,” Egusquiza said. “He is a little smaller and faster-footed. He’s easier to throw fast on. I wanted to ride him at the big one-headers that I knew weren’t going to be too hard. That was my plan before coming out here, was just to ride Jack. I knew we were going to have to be fast. It was to just keep him doing what his strengths are.”
Egusquiza set his roan gelding, Mohawk, at the remainder of the rodeos.
“Cody seems like it’s always a little longer, so I rode the roan there,” Egusquiza said. “I rode the roan at St. Paul because it’s a two header. It’s good to have two different kinds of horses that you can switch back to.”
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Graves started out on his 14-year-old blue roan he calls Blue and switched to Chip for the rest of the weekend.
“I rode the roan at Greeley and Prescott, and I rode Chip the rest of the time,” Graves said. “I bought Chip in 2018. I sold [Blue] to Griffin Passmore and they weren’t using him. I got him back this May. He’s been really good to have. He’s easy to jackpot on and he’s just solid. He does the same thing every time.”
Egusquiza believes the secret sauce of his successful season thus far is his horsepower.
“My good horse, Dude, went down last year with an eye infection and the muscle in his leg,” he said. “I got really lucky and stumbled across these two horses. They both have really picked up the slack and made it a lot easier for me. It feels like this year is easier. It doesn’t matter what the setup is. As long as I can keep these horses sound and going, they are really making it a lot easier for me, and my partner is doing a great job. He’s catching nearly about every cow that I turn him.”
Graves agrees that the whole team—him, Egusquiza and the horses—is synched for success.
“I think we’re better—I know we’re better,” Graves said. “I have never had anybody head that good for me. His horses are both really good. I’m roping good and my roping feels really good. It doesn’t feel hard. It feels like we can do it time and time again.”
Egusquiza is No.1 in the PRCA world standings with $102,726.23 in season earnings, with Erich Rogers sitting second with $94,161.89. Graves is currently second in the heeling standings with $81.019.94 in season earnings, behind the No.1 heeler in the world Paden Bray’s $89,081.67 season earnings.
“Erich Rogers and Paden make it tough,” Egusquiza said. “They catch everywhere, it seems like. Every time I win something and catch up, they win somewhere else. It’s fun to have a good battle going on.”