It’s opening night at the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and when the Oklahoma flag flies in the cowboy grand entry, a popular four-legged celebrity will roll into the Thomas & Mack Arena right behind it. World Champion Steer Wrestler Tyler Pearson’s heel horse Dippin Dots is in the house, and after helping break in the NFR bulldogging steers Tuesday, he’ll again be available for ultra-colorful cowboy victory laps, just like last year at the 2020 NFR in Arlington.
Last time we were here at the Thomas & Mack, Travis Graves rode a happy spotted horse they call Appy. Dippin Dots, who’s 7 now, won’t make The Show. But he will be available if called upon. He lapped AT&T Stadium one night after Tyler Waguespack won a round last year.
“If Dippin Dots was a person, he’d be the ugliest little talented fellow you’ve ever seen in your life,” smiled 2017 Champ of the World Pearson. “He’s so ugly, he’s cute.”
Pearson’s a #6 header and a 7+ heeler. Fact is, he’d be roping at the World Series Finale by day here this week if not for the NFR rule against competing anywhere else during Rodeo’s Super Bowl. Pearson and Dippin Dots earned some spots, but had to bow out to comply.
Pearson will make his Cinch Timed Event debut at the Lazy E Arena next March. He’ll heel on Dippin Dots, and might even rope calves on him.
“Dippin Dots is a pretty nice heel horse,” Pearson said. “He’s also (Pearson’s son) Stetson’s breakaway horse now. We head, heel and breakaway on him, and Stets ties goats on him, too. Stetson just won three breakaway ropings on him in the OYRA (Oklahoma Youth Rodeo Association). Dippin Dots is just so easy to ride that it’s hard not to ride him.”
The Pearsons spent much of their recent-times coronavirus lockdown time in the roping pen.
“We love it,” Tyler said. “We rope at least three or four days a week. Stetson’s fallen in love with roping now, too. He just won his first team roping buckle, so he’s pretty pumped about that. Basically, every time we get a chance to not practice steer wrestling, we’re team roping.”