Kaitlin Gustave: Have you started looking at steers for the finals?
Manny Egusquiza, Jr.: Yes! We’ve already picked them out. They’re still fresh and we’ll keep them at a feed lot for another seven to eight days. We’ll start breaking them in the first or second week in October. We’ll actually put three runs on them. We’ll put it on in the chute and circle them around the head horse then put a couple runs on them and turn them out for two to three weeks and then first week in November we’ll put three, maybe four, more runs on them and then they’ll head on to Vegas and we’ll set our pens on three when we get there.
KG: I remember talking with you last year and your goal was to have smaller steers and hope to see some fast runs. Is that still your same goal for this year?
ME: We’re pretty much staying with the same steer, maybe entertaining one or two more runs on them and possibly 25 to 35 pounds lighter than last year. I put my eyes on them at a feed lot and they look pretty good. They look really good actually. When you start off with 100 steers and you narrow it down to 60, the one’s that you think are going to be really good might not be very good. By the first cut we’ll know.
KG: Have you been roping at all?
ME: Oh yes, we moved and I live with my brother now. My kids are very involved. I have a 15 and a 16-year-old, and they rope a lot. I’ve been entering some rodeos and entering a bunch of jackpots. I’ve been mainly just staying home to sit back for a minute and relocate my family. I’ve been really working on my reaching, so I’ve been making sure that I can be ready in another week or two and fire it out.
KG: Are you going to enter a lot more this coming year?
ME: We’re talking about it. I started roping with York Gill. He had that accident and he had to kind of sit back a little bit to see what he wanted to do and see how healthy he could get. He’s almost 100 percent healthy now. He’s getting stronger and getting really good. We’ve actually been doing really good at some rodeos and jackpots around the house. We’re entered at the first three or four of the year. He’s pumped up about going a little bit and I’m pumped up about it. I think at 65 rodeos is going to fit our deal. We’ve been scheduling some schools and he’s building a new facility in Stephenville, Texas. We actually have a good little mix going.
KG: I saw you won with Dustin (Egusquiza) in the #16 at Robertson Hill Ranch.
ME: Oh, that was luck. I did everything in the world to mess the short round steer up and he come up with two feet, I really don’t know how. We like about five miles from Robertson Hill. I should have won the second Open roping and I was 26 on four and missed the right horn on one. York roped really good in both roping. I was fixing to go home and my brothers like, ‘hey, you want to rope in that #16.’ I’m like, ‘yeah, we can try it.’ I took both of my good horses up there to school them because we’ve been getting a lot of rain. We caught the first four and I kind of went at the short round steer and jerked him down. No more than he went down, he got up and before he even got a hop in, Dustin heeled him.
KG: Is there anything you’ve learned from Dustin?
ME: He’s so gusty, man. I’m real cautious. I rope not to lose. It’s good but bad. He ropes to win every time. Dustin, which I hate to say it because of the big brother deal, he’s changed roping. I jackpot better than I do rodeo so he feeds off of me on that and I’ve been learning on those one-headers is to kind of let my hair down and learn how to reach. We both learn off each other and feed off each other. The other day we were at Pasadena (Texas) and we hadn’t rodeoed all year together so it was kind of fun to be at the same slack as he was. He was 4.7 and I didn’t have a really good steer. I guess Colby (Lovell) and Jade (Corkill) were 5.5 on him. I was so upset, I missed the barrier on him, but I reached further than I thought I could. I hooked him and York’s good horse is hurt so he’s on a young horse and I think it was just a little much for him. He legged which I think it’s the first leg he’s caught for me all year. We were 4.8! I go down there to get my rope and Dustin is by the head box watching. He gave me this double take like, ‘do you realize how far you just threw?’ and I’m like ‘yeah, I know.’
I don’t ever get to involved when he’s gone rodeoing because I know how much concentration and focus that I would like to have. My religious deal is that I get up every morning and I see what’s opening or closing and what got done the night before. If I know where he’s about at I look and see if he did good or bad. We visit about once a week. I’ve been focused more on my kids and what they do. I know that he’s old enough, he can kind of take care of himself.
KG: What differences have you seen in the PRCA from your first year as director to this year?
ME: I actually just got off the phone a minute ago from a big board meeting. We dropped our count down to 65 official rodeos and we’re narrowing down to have it be border to border on the circuits. We’re working on stuff to give back to the circuit guy which we’ve gotten away from in years past. So, there’s been a lot of changes here in the last five to six days. Of course, as the team roping director I have to voice the opinion of the top 50 guys, but also take care of every individual circuit. I’ve always got feedback from both sides. We’re kind of meeting in the middle.
I’ve been rodeoing for 20 years and have seen every aspect of it. I never did rodeo much whenever it was 100 rodeos, but I have been to 100 rodeos in a year and it’s not fun. You wear out to many things. Until I can get equal money in the team roping we’re going to keep out limits down just because there’s certain committees out there that do get for team roping and do add money at them, but there’s some that can’t afford it, some that can that don’t want to. The board doesn’t want to make it mandatory for money. It’s a work in progress.
KG: What are your visions for the future of team roping?
ME: I think team roping has grown a lot just from jackpots, even rodeo, rodeos have added more money to where a guy can make a good living rodeoing. I think team roping right now is stronger than a lot of the other events in rodeo. There’s a lot of people that support team roping a lot more than the other events. You see guys like Kaleb Driggers and Kollin Von Ahn that are fixing to put ropings on that adds $87,000 or $97,000, whatever the number is. You never usually hear stuff like that. You know, the BFI is getting better. Everyone talks about losing the Wildfire or the George Strait but there’s so many guys that have actually stepped up and come up ideas. The final piece of the puzzle to make it the best would be getting equal money, that has been our biggest fight.
Everyone can team rope. When you see the money that a guy can win at a jackpot—that’s pretty awesome. The World Series base their finals around the NFR because we have so many fans in pro rodeo that rope. That whole deal at Las Vegas just in the World Series is huge and I’d like to get more positive things about it besides just in rodeo. I see the growth of it and that end of it and you don’t see the growth in the Pro Rodeo side.
For example, I was at a team roping finals and they were trying to cut out the Open roping. I had a kid come up to me and he was eight years old. I asked him, ‘what’s your goal? What’s your ultimate goal?’ and his goal was to make the NFR. They start off at the junior ranks of USTRC, and they move onto World Series, and they raise their numbers where they can’t go and be a Open level guy, that we don’t have any more as far as World Series and USTRC. Then their next step is to rodeo.
We get demoted due to pay because of how good we get and it shouldn’t be that way. Once we can fix all of that and have the support of people to make team roping good at the rodeos where we have equal money at every rodeo, not just the major rodeos. From a kids dream, to my dream, to anyone’s dream is to make it to the NFR and to have a gold buckle and thats the prize.