Remix—the iconic 2008 dun gelding into whom Kory Koontz poured a decade of blood, sweat and tears—is now in the rig with Travis Graves for the 2022 ProRodeo season, another weapon in Graves’ lethal arsenal of horsepower.
(Editor’s note: Yes, I used ‘Outlaw Gelding’ in the headline just to make you a little more interested in the story. Remix has changed since we first started writing about him over a decade ago.)
Remix will join Dual Chip, a 13-year-old bay gelding Graves bought from Joseph Harrison, on Graves’ 2022 campaign behind stand-out NFR header Dustin Egusquiza. It’s a spot Remix is quite familiar with, as he was the horse Koontz rode behind Egusquiza in two Wrangler National Finals Rodeo-qualifying seasons in 2017 and 2018.
Why He Works
“He’s got a lot of speed, and he’s really fast,” Graves, It’s easy for him. It feels like he’s gliding when he runs. He’s quick footed, up in the front end, so it’s easy for him when he slows down and he’s on his butt.”
Undoubtedly, it takes a unique equine athlete to keep up with Egusquiza’s head rope. And Remix—who Koontz, now 50 and living in Canyon, Texas, got as a yearling as a gift from Texas’s Joe Braman, and who bucked, ran off and jumped out of arena panels for years—is nothing if not unique.
“Sometimes you have to be able to play defense because of how potent Dustin’s offense is,” Koontz, the $2.5-million ProRodeo heeler, said. “Roping behind Dustin, you don’t want to run the steer left because when the steer is straight, Dustin is at his best and can truly do amazing things with his rope. You have to use the space you have in the arena. And that very limited because of how fast Dustin can throw. If they step left, you’re in a bind. There’s not many horses that can score a little, and still have the speed and be smooth and allow you to, if things shape up good, throw on the first hop and it’s simple and deadly fast.
“If they don’t shape up perfectly, on Remix you can get to the inside and get them blocked off, and Dustin will know to pull them. Then you can be patient and still get the job done even if it’s a tenth or two slower. Surely Dustin has it on them fast enough that you can still win great money that way, too,” Koontz added.
Where Remix Came From
Registered as Mr. JB 0839, Remix was raised by Joe Braman at JB Quarter Horses. He’s a son of their late stallion One Hot Jose, out of a Nu Bar mare named Miss Nu Sox. Koontz picked him up alongside the road as an untouched yearling, and he did battle with him for a decade before riding him at the ProRodeos.
“Each time he bucked me off, he’d just stand there and take a deep breath and look at me,” Koontz said with a smirk. “I would get up, catch my air, get back on him and go about our business.”
Koontz rode Remix, as did plenty of cowboy hands from the Texas Panhandle to Stephenville, trying to break through to the horse that Koontz just hoped would turn into a half-decent practice mount.
“As the years went on, I started to think he’d be a mediocre-to-good heel horse to jackpot and take to some rodeos,” Koontz said. “And somehow, time and consistency just won out.”
In 2021, Koontz won the BFI in Guthrie on Remix, just as he was deciding to slow down in his career. Remix won the coveted Heel Horse of the BFI Bronze—the first for Koontz even after making and riding some of the best horses ever to pull back on a steer: Iceman, Switchblade, Jackyl and LB.
Why Travis Graves Bought Remix
Graves, who’s one of the very few heelers to have won every major open jackpot, had already ridden a taller, longer-strided horse he called Manny to win the BFI, the George Strait, the US Open and the Wildfire. He’d seen Koontz ride Remix for most of the horse’s life—the good, the bad and the ugly of it. But as he saw the horse get more solid, he was more and more interested in him.
“I’ve always liked him,” Graves said. “I always thought he worked really good, and he was super talented. I was looking for another great horse, and they’re so hard to find. I knew Kory was slowing down. That’s what brought it all about. I just called him and talked to him a little bit about it.”
“I’d had him for sale, and I had him priced really high,” Koontz said. “I wasn’t competing anymore, so I brought the price down a little to what I felt like he was worth. Travis had asked me if I’d sell him, but I was pricing him way high. But I finally decided he was standing around, and I wasn’t using him and he was going to waste and I’m not going to compete. I told him I was going to come down on the price, and he rode him and he loved him and that was it.”
Graves ran eight steers in the practice pen on Remix and pulled the trigger on the purchase.
“Travis was worried that maybe some of that outlaw in him would come back in the middle of a run,” Koontz said. “I told Travis, he ain’t bucked in seven years, but on a cold day when I saddle him, I don’t take anything for granted. I know he won’t do anything real stupid, but in the back of your mind, on certain days you don’t just hock it in him and girt him up and hop on. But I said if he’s going to do something, it will be when you first get on him at the trailer.”
Just days later, Graves took Remix to an Open at Billy Bob Brown’s where he won second and third on him, then followed that up with a win against all the best in the world at Fort Smith, Arkansas.
“He can really run and he will do whatever I need,” Graves said. “He can finish the run fast or be more forgiving. That’s hard to get that. Chip isn’t a real forgiving horse, which is why I don’t jackpot on him a ton. When he stops, it’s done. Manny, or Superstar or Remix, they’ll let you do whatever you need to do. He’s got a lot of speed, and he’s really fast. It’s easy for him. It feels like he’s gliding when he runs. He’s quick footed, up in the front end, so it’s easy for him when he slows down and he’s on his butt. Plus, he’s never even needed shoes. Rodeo horses have to be dirty tough, and Remix is.”
Remix’s Role in Gold Buckle Dreams?
Both Graves and Koontz bear the burden of being two of the greatest to have never won a gold buckle, but Koontz believes Graves is still at the top of his game heeling behind the most consistent big reacher in history. For Koontz, the chance for Remix to be a part of a potential gold-buckle run for Graves means the world. As of early June 2022, Egusquiza and Graves are both eighth in the PRCA world standings with $33,518.87 won before Reno.
“I’ve never really rooted for someone, but it would be so special for Remix to be a part of that,” Koontz said. “All the other great horses I’ve had got world titles won on them. But it would be amazing to see Travis do it on Remix. Just to be a little piece of it would really be special.”