You could say Paul Eaves is a pretty good friend.
Good enough, in fact, that when he had to get shoulder surgery instead of rope at the Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale's Gold Buckle Beer Open, he urged his good friend and first-time National Finals Rodeo heeler Douglas Rich to ride his horse—the same horse aboard whom he won his 2020 PRCA world title.
The mare, 10-year-old Docs Gunslinger Chic, helped get the ball rolling for Coy Rahlmann and Rich in Round 3, when they won $11,321.31 each for their 4.8-second run.
[Related: Lovell and Eaves' Gold-Buckle Horsepower]
"Paul said, 'Hey run some on her and see if you think she would work,'" Rich, 26, said. "We thought she might be a better fit for the small building than my gray. The gray is a really good horse, and I feel like he wouldn’t have messed up. But she’s a little more solid in the box, and I run some on her and she’s super easy. She’s a good horse.
"I just wanted him to ride whatever he'd do well on," Eaves added. "I didn't care if he rode her, but I just wanted him to do well so it was no big deal for me to offer for him to take her."
Eaves, from Lonedell, Missouri, and Rich, from Herrick, Illinois, have long known one another, but when Rich came to Texas to try his hand at ProRodeo, he ended up living in his trailer at Eaves' place in Millsap.
"Whenever I left that part of the country, he was 12 years old," Eaves said. "I didn't really know him. He was wanting to come out here and he stayed and roped and just kept going. He's good to be around and tried hard. He's good for me to rope with every day whether we're heading or heeling."
The mare is by Gunslinger RL and out of the PG Gunpowder mare GP Docs Affair. As a 2-year-old, she was consigned to a sale via Texas cow-horse broker Melanie Smith of Solo Select Horses. But Derick Alexander, struck by the filly’s beauty in the photo online, bought her first.
“She wasn’t easy to train,” said Alexander, a 34-year-old Stephenville horse trainer, originally from South Carolina. “She took a while. She’s real feely and a little tough-minded. But she was always fast-footed and did everything you’d ever want one to do—and it come natural to her.”
Junior Nogueira bought the mare from Alexander, then sold her to Paul Eaves in the summer of 2020.
“I liked how easy she was; the way she wanted to hook up to the cow,” Eaves said. “Junior did a really good job getting her in a good spot all the time.”
At the 2020 NFR in Arlington, Eaves went on to win three rounds and $112,328 to clinch his second World Championship. So with Eaves going in for surgery on his rotator cuff and torn bicep Nov. 29, he made sure to send Jade on to another NFR with Rich.
"That mare is good in any situation," Rich said. "It don’t matter where you ride her—she’s going to do the same thing every time. She’s easy in every spot I’ve ever rode her at. And I’ve watched her go a lot. She stays out of your way and keeps the steer out in front of you and that’s a big thing over here. If you get too close in the turn, the header has to pull them away and they only have a couple strides before they’re in the wall. She keeps everything out in front of you and never over runs the steer or over runs your throw."TRJ