As far as what I would consider great, these are the four I’ve had: Iceman, Switchblade, Jackyl and LB. There were some other horses sprinkled in there that I won some stuff on, but they all had real weaknesses. These four are the definite four great ones I’ve had. Most people are very fortunate to have one great horse. I’ve been blessed to have this many good horses. I don’t really know why. I have a certain feel I look for when I get on a horse—and I’ve bought a lot of horses that didn’t work out. Every horse has been different and I don’t have one formula for training. I spend a lot of time with my horses and get to know them. I know how much discipline they can take, when to have a heavy hand and when to just love them—like being a good father. I try to build confidence in them and make them love what they’re doing. I’ve been fortunate with getting my horses to do the things I want to do and ride them in a way that makes them want to do their job and help me catch the steer.
#1. I got Iceman when I was in high school and rode him a couple of years there. I made the Finals for the first time in 1992 and that was on him. I won two BFIs and two George Straits on him. He was a big reason why my career got started in a good way. He was just really good in all situations, whether it was Salinas or the NFR, a one-run rodeo situation or a six-head BFI situation. It didn’t really matter with him. The reason I put him as No. 1 is that he gave me a great opportunity to win by the way he worked no matter what the circumstances were. It was evident through my career that he definitely was a great horse.
The last NFR I rode him at was 1997 and that was the year that me and Bret Boatright won the average and ended up second in the world behind Speed Williams and Rich Skelton. Iceman died in 1998, when he was 16 years old. He got an abscess in his left lung.
I don’t know that horses have necessarily changed. The quality is higher because of where roping has gone and how fast it is and what you need your horse to do. But for me, in my career, I truly believe that Iceman would have fit in today as he did back then.
#2. The next one on my list is Switchblade. I bought him from Tyler Magnus. I put him second on my list because of the things I won on him and the versatility of being great in every area. He was probably faster than Iceman and maybe one of the most athletic horses I’ve ever had. One neat thing about him is he’s still going and Jade Corkill has won two world titles riding him at the NFR. He’s 21 now. I sold him to Allen Bach and then Allen rode him for a few years and then Jade got him from Allen.
#3. I would put Jackyl third. The reason I put him behind those other two is solely because he wasn’t as athletic as them. But, out of those three, Jackyl has probably had as much or more big wins than any of them. Maybe he’s not as fast or quick-footed, but he was always at the right place at the right time. I would call him a gamer because everybody who’s had him since me has won on him. Everybody’s done great on him. He’s a winner. I rode him for three of the Wildfire wins and rode Switchblade for one.
#4. Number 4 is LB, the bay horse that Clay Cooper owns now. I bought him when he was either seven or eight years old, and he took Switchblade’s place when I sold him to Al. He was really green and in a short amount of time, he stepped up to the level where I was able to make the NFR on him and win some big stuff. I think I won Reno on him a couple of times. After I sold him to Clay, he won $15,000 at Omaha—like that day—then he won the average at the NFR. That horse, over his time in the PRCA, has won a lot, too. I just didn’t win as much big stuff on him. Out of all four horses, he might be the most athletic—him and Iceman would be close. LB is faster and more the size of horse that I like to ride. LB is a reining-bred horse, so he doesn’t have much cow in him. Everything that horse did was what I taught him to do. He got to where he knew where to go and where I wanted him to be and he worked good, but sometimes he would slide too much, through my throw, and that was something I was continually working on.
The next one. The horse I’m working with now is as green as he can be. Joe Braman from JB Quarter Horses, gave this horse to me when he was a yearling, and now the horse is seven years old. When he was a baby I was trying to figure out a name for him. I named him Remix, because I want him to be a mixture of Iceman, Switchblade, Jackyl and LB all wrapped into one horse. That’s a high standard to try to get to. He’s been a real handful to say the least. He’s always been a bronc. When I’d ride the buck out of him, he’d want to run off with me. We went around and around and he’s actually the only horse that’s ever really bucked me off when I knew it was coming and I just couldn’t stay on. In the last six months, he started coming around and working good and I’ve been riding him at his first rodeos. I’d been having trouble with my consistency and feeling comfortable doing what I wanted to be doing heeling steers, so I finally decided I was going to ride Remix—good, bad or ugly—and see how it goes. So far, it’s gone good. I think there’s a lot of potential and I can’t in anyway say he’s great, but he’s headed in the right direction. This one I started from square one, so if he messes up, it’s because of me.