Fastest Fourth on Record

The master blaster team ropers who pulled off blitzing 3-second record runs that stole the Fourth of July run explain their record-breaking week.

Are you kidding me?? That’s what we all said—plenty of professional team ropers included—as we watched the 2021 Cowboy Christmas team roping tale play out. What do the master blasters who pulled off those blitzing 3-second record runs that stole the Fourth of July run stage have to say about it? We asked a few of them, and they answered.

Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves tied the 3.3-second world team roping record with this run in Oakley City, Utah. James Fain

Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves were the winningest team out there this Fourth. They won $30,464 a man with wins in Oakley City, Utah, and Livingston and Red Lodge, Montana. They also pocketed fat checks for placing at the rodeos in Killdeer, North Dakota; Greeley, Colorado*; and Cody, Wyoming. (*Dustin and TG tied the old 4.1-second record to split second, third and fourth at Greeley after Garrett Rogers and Jake Minor set a new one in 3.9 seconds, though the score was a little shorter there this year.)

Dustin took the lead in the world heading standings, and TG pulled within striking distance of heeling #1 Paden Bray. Oh, and their 3.3-second run in Oakley tied the world record they now co-own with Chad Masters and Jade Corkill (2009 National Finals Rodeo); Brock Hanson and Ryan Motes (Nacogdoches, Texas, 2012); Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira (2017 NFR); and Clay Smith and Corkill (San Antonio 2021).

Dustin and TG’s 3.6 at Livingston also is a new arena record. Have I mentioned that when Clay and Jade were 3.3 at San Antonio earlier this year, Dustin and TG were 3.6 for second?

What? Is?? Up???

“Dustin’s starting a new era,” said TG, who’s seen all sorts of salty stuff in his 12-NFRs career. “No one’s ever seen anything like this. He’s figured out how to turn every steer extremely fast. That’s hard to do. At Oakley, he took one swing. He does it all the time, and gets the horns. He’s just unbelievable. It’s almost weird how he’s figured out how to get out of the barrier and have it on ’em so fast.

“Dustin is a heeler’s dream. It’s pretty hard to beat having steers turned for first every time. And he handles them, too. As a heeler, I’ve got to stay ready. People don’t understand just how fast he turns steers. It happens right now. Dustin’s also a great guy who’s great to be around. You can’t beat him.”

How does Dustin see it?

“I’m just trying to go as fast as I can at all times,” he said. “It’s just the way I was built, I guess. When the rodeos get really fast, like Oakley did, something goes off in my head and I can’t hang on to my rope. It’s like a reaction, where I want my rope to leave my hand as fast as possible after the chute opens.”

Egusquiza and Graves Break Cowboy Christmas Team Roping Record

And you keep a head horse working how, exactly?

“There really is no good way to do it,” Dustin said. “Once you start doing that on a horse, he knows it’s coming. The sorrel horse I’m riding now (Jack) is the same as the old sorrel horse I used to ride (Dude). When I cock my rope, he knows it’s coming fast, and he just lopes and ducks. If I hold my rope down, he stands up and gives me a little bit more. They can tell the difference after awhile.”

Smith and Corkill are constants in the today’s team roping conversation, too. On top of co-owning that world record, they just set the 3.7-second arena record at Belle Fourche, South Dakota over the Fourth to win that one by over half a second.