Great Number Eight: Eaves Looks to Defend Gold Buckle with Eighth-Straight NFR Trip
Paul Eaves is headed to his eighth Wrangler NFR to defend his Gold Buckle.

The PRCA’s defending world champion heeler is one of three guys who’ve racked up about 10 straight NFRs including this one. Aside from Erich Rogers’s streak of nine and Luke Brown’s dozen straight, Paul Eaves will notch his eighth Finals in a row.

“It’s a good feeling because it means your roping is going in the right direction,” said Eaves. “At least you know you’re progressing – because roping keeps getting faster and tougher.”

The odds are zero that a guy can qualify for rodeo’s profit machine annually on just one horse. Eaves has done it on several different horses, which is a challenge in itself. The Missouri native said he’s also been blessed with great partners.

“With the horse deal, if you wait until your horses are getting older to invest in new ones, you’re late,” he said. “You’re behind; you’ve got to stay up on that, ideally.”

He’s tried harder the past few years to own plenty of horses at different stages of finished, he said, and has one now that he thinks will be good next year. But getting back to Sin City every year without fail takes everything. Not just good horses but hard work, good partners, correct entering and more.

“If you slack off or fall down in any of those areas, there’s a big hole in your game,” he said.

Eaves had no designs on NFR longevity when he made his first Finals in 2012 – he just wanted to make it.

“After that, it got to be that I was trying to do better and set myself up to win more, so it became a goal to see how high I could end up ranked,” he said.

Who’s excited to see where Eaves can rank with a three-time NFR average champ in the other Thomas-and-Mack-Center box for the first time? Ironically, interviewed separately, Luke Brown simply said that in Las Vegas, he needs to do his job. His heeler feels the same way.

“I feel like I’ve got to do a good job,” said Eaves. “Luke ropes good there. I’ve got to step up to the plate and do my job.”

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