Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves are one of the teams to watch in Pro Rodeo, especially after earning $17,556 with wins at Idaho’s Snake River Stampede and both of Utah’s Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo and Fiesta Days Rodeo over the week of July 19–24, 2021.
Egusquiza, of Marianna, Florida, continues to lead the heading standings with $124,667.64 in total season earnings, while the team’s fruitful week launched Graves to the lead in the heeling standings with $102,961.25 in season earnings, giving him a greater than $6,000 lead on Paden Bray, who is in second with $96,563.60 in earnings.
“We can’t let up. It’s a yearlong contest,” said Graves, the 12-time Wrangler NFR qualifier from Jay, Oklahoma. “You have to finish what you start. That’s the whole goal: To go in No.1 and win the World. It is amazing how good we did. It’s the best that I’ve ever done, by far. We could have won all three of them, really.”
Egusquiza and Graves won the bulk of their earnings at the Snake River Stampede in Nampa, Idaho. They tied for fifth in the first round with a 4.6-second run, worth $1,358 a man; placed second in the second round with a 3.6-second run, worth $2,468 a man; placed fifth in the final round with a 5.3-second run, worth $419 a man; and won the average with a time of 13.5 seconds on three head, worth $4,258 a man.
“They did a great job sorting the steers,” Graves said, who won the NFR average team roping title in 2017. “It was an easy setup and, when it’s like that, you know it’s going to be fast. [Dustin] had it on our first steer pretty fast. We didn’t get a great finish and we were still fortunate enough to place. We had another steer that was straight, a little to the right, and he went at him good, and I heeled him fast. We were high call back and we had them by a second, I think.”
The team won the average at the Ogden (Utah) Pioneer Days rodeo with a time of 10.1 second run two head, worth $3,767 a man. They roped their first one in 5.0 seconds to split second, worth $2,020 a man, and tied for eighth in the second round with a 5.1-second run, worth $109 a man.
“Our first steer ran pretty hard, and the barrier was out there a little way,” Graves said. “We made a run that was pretty fast out in the middle of the arena. Our second steer was a good steer that kind of checked off. We knew that if we were a short five, we were probably going to win the rodeo. Dustin just went to him and turned him off. When the steer hit, he kind of got a little heavy.”
Each man then added another $3,157 to their earnings after winning the first round at the Fiesta Days Rodeo in Spanish Fork, Utah.
“We made a great run on our first one—probably the best run we made all week,” Graves said. “The steer was pretty lively. Dustin stuck it on him, and I heeled him fast. It came together well on our first one.”
Hours before the performance, where Egusquiza and Graves were to run their second steer, a rainstorm blew through to flood out the arena, causing head and heel horses to get bogged down in the deep mud.
“I think it rained three or four inches in an hour,” Graves said. “They went in there and worked the arena really deep. It was just a muddy mess. [Dustin] let [the steer] out there and had it on him and his horse got bogged down in the mud and he missed his dally.”
Graves heeled on his athletic 12-year-old gelding, Dual Chip, at all three of the rodeos.
“Chip is probably the best rodeo horse that I’ve ever had, honestly,” he said. “He’s working great and gives me a good shot. He doesn’t move around when he stops; he finishes a run good. I couldn’t ask for a better horse right now for me, the way I do it. He scores great. Everything is just working out right now and our run is working well. He’s spinning them fast and spinning about all of them.”
While Graves and his iconic horse and turning heads on the heel side, Graves gives credit to Egusquiza, who is changing the future of heading.
“I’ve never seen anyone head like that, and I don’t think anyone else has ever seen anyone else head like that,” he said. “I don’t think you will for a while. He makes my job easy and we’re a great team. I feel like we do good together.”