Blake Hirdes and Dalton Pearce won the 2022 NFR Open Team Roping title after a 5.3-second run during the Gold Buckle Round July 16, 2022.
The win netted them $11,430 a man. That was enough to move Hirdes, of Turlock, into 27th in the PRCA world standings with $34,704 won. Pearce, of San Luis Obispo, jumped into 29th with $32,149 won at the end of July.
“I got a real good start and a couple of ’em couple of ’em had beat me out of there,” Hirdes, who is roping with Wyatt Hansen in 2022’s regular season, said. “But a lot of ’em I got a hold of ’em pretty good and give pretty good handles. They were all moving pretty good, and he dang sure heeled them all pretty fast and real aggressive.”
Hirdes and Pearce paired up after winning the average at the California Circuit Finals Rodeo. The NFR Open used to be the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Florida in April annually. But in 2022 it moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, hosted by the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.
“I just try and be ready when the shot presents itself kind of, and catch every steer obviously, but try to be aggressive,” Pearce, who is roping with Manny Egusquiza to finish up the season, added.
How Hirdes and Pearce Became National Champs
In the tournament-style rodeo, Hirdes and Pearce roped their first steer in 9.0. They followed it up on their second steer with a 5.8 to make it back into the semifinals. Hirdes and Pearce were 6.6 in the semifinals, sneaking into the finals first-out at slowest back in the sudden death round. They knocked that steer down in 5.3 seconds, and the rest of the field couldn’t catch them.
“It’s just kind of a limited field so you just try and make a decent run on what you drew and usually it seems like money’s pretty easy to find around there just because they pay like six monies out of 24 people,” Pearce said. “So it’s pretty good chances, you know, compared to a lot of rodeos you go to.”
Hirdes rode The Rock, registered Crown Rocks, an 11-year-old dun gelding he bought from Pro Equine Group CEO Dustin Noblitt in 2019.
“He pretty much lets me do whatever I want,” Hirdes said. “He’s real free and he runs hard.”
Pearce rode Turtle, registered Smart Like Boon, his 11-year-old buckskin gelding he bought last March from Hawaiian horseshoer Ty Shintaku.
“He’s pretty forgiving and he’s kind of crazy, but he’s gotten pretty good for the bigger setups over the last year,” Pearce said. “He’s kind of long-strided, which is nice and sucks sometimes, but he is pretty decent.”
Neither Hirdes nor Pearce were dead-set on trying to make a run for the NFR in December, but the win in Colorado Springs might have adjusted their schedules a bit.
“I’ve just kind of been clipping along, waiting on the NFR Open to see what happens cause I know there’s a bunch of money there,” Pearce said. “So it’s kind of like enter up like you know you’re gonna win so if you do you’re ready and I was just kind of hoping that we do good there so we have a reason to go later on.”
Pearce has already been to 40 rodeos on the year, so he’s hoping to make the most out of the rest of the season with 2021 BFI Champ Egusquiza.
Hirdes is looking forward to winning enough the rest of the year to get into the winter rodeos.
“I didn’t really have any plans on trying to make the Finals or anything like that,” Hirdes said. “But I mean, I would sure like to be able to go to Houston or San Antonio or stuff like that. I’ve never been to Houston before. I would sure like to go to that one, but I’ve been to San Antonio before, and I’d like to be able to go back to that one.”