Former Team Roping Header Resistol Rookie of the Year Dustin Egusquiza has qualified for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, coming in at the number-13 spot with $77,436.84 in earnings. Last year he was in the hunt for his first qualification, but came up short with $58,692.10 won to put him in the top 20.
Kaitlin Gustave: How does it feel to qualify for your first WNFR?
Dustin Egusquiza: There are no words to really describe it. I feel like it’s every roper’s dream to make the NFR—that’s what I’ve been dreaming about all my life. I don’t think that it’s really sunk in yet—I don’t know if it will until I actually back in the box.
KG: What problems did you and Kory run into in the summer?
DE: Well, we started off great in the winter. We won around $55,000 just in the winter, and then in the summer I don’t know what happened to us—we just got into a slump. We went for about two months in a row where we hardly won anything. It’s pretty tough—that was my worst slump that I’ve ever been in, and just to keep going and know that we still have a chance was hard on both of us. Luckily we made it work, and there toward the end of the season we started winning again. We kind of won enough to get us in, but still wasn’t the year we were hoping for at the beginning of the year, but we made it.
KG: What horses are you going to be riding at the NFR?
DE: I don’t even know for sure yet. I have four or five that are kind of on the plate right now that I have to pick from—they’re not all mine. I’ve got two of my horses—I’d love to really just ride one of my own, but my good horse has been crippled for three months, so that was part of our troubles this summer. My good horse was out—I wasn’t doing good so I was riding my 7-year-old, and he’s been doing really good also. His name is Juice. It’s either going to be him or one that I started the year on in the winter, his name’s Dude—he’s really good in the buildings. I’d like to ride him but I just got to where I can lope him around yesterday so it’s going to be kind of tight getting him back ready in time. Or Cory Kidd’s horse that Kaleb Driggers rode last year, his names Gus—he’s one of my options. Those are probably the main three that I’m thinking about.
KG: Will you ride Kory’s heel horse Abby if you have to?
DE: Yes. I’m actually headed over to run some on Abby right now. I’ve run some on her before, but it was only like two or three. She dang sure might be one of them. I’m going to run some on her today and see how it goes. I’m going to go to North Side (Stockyards Championship Rodeo) over there in Fort Worth (Texas) for the rodeo this weekend. I’m either going to ride her or Gus and see how they feel.
KG: How did last year’s rookie year set you up for this year?
DE: Well it was kind of a disheartening year. It was great that I won the rookie but I was really adamant about making the Finals and I just missed it. There’s so many opportunities that you look back on and be like ‘Man, if I would have caught that steer or wouldn’t have broke the barrier here’ this could have been my second NFR qualification already. It’s taught me that there are plenty of chances throughout the year to not give up on yourself or get down and want to go home—just stay positive.
KG: Do you think it was easier to be on the road this year than last year?
DE: Yeah, I think so. My girlfriend went with me all year this year and she was a big help. It was kind of different last year I was in the truck with Clint Summers just tagging and riding their rig all year. Its not really ideal for me personally. I liked to have my own rig and just do my own thing. It was a lot better on me this year just to have my own stuff and my own horses—just do what ever I wanted to do and for my girlfriend to be there with me. We hauled a lot with Kory. He’s a pretty awesome guy—easy to get a long with.
KG: What are your plans for practice runs before December?
DE: At North Side, we went there last weekend. It’s pretty similar to the finals—real small arena, short barrier. The performance is pretty loud in there. It’s good practice, I feel like. I’m also going over here to Chad Masters right now and he’s got the barrier set up and the left fence right there. That’s about all I have planned, really. I don’t really know how to go about it, I don’t know the best way. Most people say that you don’t want to do it too much, just get a feel for it and make sure your horse does good at the set-up.
KG: Has there been any of the other headers helping you out?
DE: Yes, I’ve asked Chad Masters quite a few questions on what he thinks about it. He’s told me some opinions on some stuff. Mainly talk to him and my brother. My brother coaches me a lot.