Photo by Robby Freeman
Tyler Wade’s Afterparty might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the horse has been a shot of Fireball for the header who won a cool $20,000 at last year’s RFD-TV’s The American Semifinals and has amassed nearly $40,000 in earnings in 2015 and more than $20,000 in Texas Circuit earnings so far this year.
“If you don’t watch yourself when you saddle him, he will bite you, hard,” Wade’s partner, Kinney Harrell, said. “Every time you saddle him, he’s looking for someone to bite.”
It’s a painful parlor trick that Wade’s used as a weapon from time to time.
“Someone was BSing with me, and we were going on and on and back and forth and Kinney was standing there while I saddled him,” Wade explained. “I told Kinney to keep talking to the guy and distract him. And Afterparty bit that guy right in the fat of the back.”
He can be a pickle to shoe, and he sure won’t get out of your way when you’re cleaning his pen, but all of the horse’s quirks are worth it to Wade, who has learned to count on the horse in every situation.
“You know what he’s going to do every time,” Wade said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the BFI or the NFR. If I make it, he’s the one I want to ride. I’ve won Corpus Christi on him two or three times, and we won the All-American Finals on him.”
The horse came from Dustin Morgan, a header from Oklahoma, who rode Afterparty at amateur rodeos across Oklahoma and Texas. Morgan won Mike White’s Pasture Roping on him, too, a true test of the horse’s versatility in all conditions. He is registered, but Wade has lost the papers and doesn’t know how he’s bred, but he says he’s “not bred that great.”
“I only had one horse rodeoing my first two years,” Wade said. “I was looking for horses under the radar because I can’t afford someone’s great one that everyone knows. I was looking for one that gave a guy a shot every time, and that horse never screwed him over. He scored good, always gave him a good throw and he came up the wall good.”
After watching the horse for a few years, Wade went to try him and was less than impressed.
“I hated him the first day,” Wade said. “He was ill broke. He could hardly lope a circle. He has to turn his head to the left or he won’t score good for some God-awful reason. He wasn’t trained that great, but the more I rode him, the more I got with him.”
Wade swapped bits up and just went to roping on the horse, and he learned that the outside-the-run stuff just wasn’t as important as he once thought. Afterparty still isn’t a great time to warm up, and he still cocks his head to the left in the box.
“I ride him in a Perfect Bit with a ring in the middle of it,” Wade said. “It’s probably not enough, but in the box it helps me pull a lot harder. Probably you could ride him in a halter to rope on. He’s only fun to ride from when you nod your head to when you face. Riding him around the stripping chute, warming him up, it sucks. We needed something light for the run itself, though, so this is what we’ve got.”
Afterparty might not be the fastest horse going down the road, but he lets former Resistol/PRCA Team Roping Rookie of the Year Wade use his rope from three coils back or at the steer’s hip.
“He’s got above average speed, but you’re not going to be far enough behind for it to matter,” Wade said. “Overall, he’s probably just an average horse. If I need to make up time, he lets me do it with my rope consistently. I don’t have to ping the barrier on him. My other horse, it was do or die. If we were 4 on the first one, I’d have to be 4 on the second one. With him, I can be 4 on the first one and if I need to be 9 on the next one, I can just go out there and catch.”