Right around his 21 birthday in 2014, header Cam Dahozy and his partner won an International Indian National Finals Rodeo regional roping, qualifying to compete in the #10 Incentive at the Finals, held east of Phoenix, on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.

“I told my partner, who I’d roped with all year, ‘This is our shot,’” Dahozy said.

The pair went neck and neck with another team, coming into the final round a few hundredths of a second behind them for second high call.

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“Our fourth-round steer was the steer the other team had in the third round, so we knew he was good. I didn’t really trust my start on that horse. He was long, so I had to stay there a little bit. I called for it and, in three or four swings, I was kind of close to him and I thought I was going to split the horns, but I curled it on the back of his neck. I brought him around and I thought he might have crossfired it.”

The shot was legal, though, and the high-call team ended up breaking the barrier and roping a leg, making Dahozy the Champion Header.

“What was cool,” Dahozy explained, “was that we won the #10 Incentive, and Erich Rogers and [Aaron] Tsinigine won the Open. Rogers tore it up. He won the heading, the tie-down roping, and the all-around.”

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Back in Tohatchi, New Mexico—Dahozy’s hometown—the community recognized him in a parade, and he gifted his champion saddle to his mom.

The buckle, though, he’s only taken off once in the past five years.

“I took it off one time,” Dahozy recalled, “on a Saturday morning, because I thought it was a superstitious thing and I wasn’t doing good because of it. I got bucked off my good horse at a roping that same day. After I got home, I put it back on.”

Nonetheless, Dahozy has a buckle he’d be willing to swap this out for—a Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale buckle.

“I’ve just got to pray about it and it will be good.”

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