Paul Eaves was barely 18 when he first made roping headlines by winning the 2008 Wildfire Open to the World with Kelsey Parchman. Then in 2009, he bought Cadillac, the horse that effectively made his career (the gray gelding has taken him to the 2012 Canadian Finals Rodeo championship and twice to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo).
Eaves, a 24-year-old Missouri native, tracked down Cadillac after getting the chance to ride him back when Allen Bach owned him. But ever since, Eaves has been trying to find a second good horse. Finally, in November, he did.
That’s when he bought 12-year-old Chester from Missouri trainer Eddie Ruth. The result is that Eaves has had the best winter of his life and was winning the world until defending world champ Jade Corkill bumped him in late May.
Where Cadillac is free enough to have helped Eaves learn to really finish his delivery, Chester is more ratey, so he can throw fast. The horse never overruns a steer and is never in Eaves’ way. In fact, roping behind Dustin Bird, Eaves has kicked conservative out the door and become much more aggressive.
“I had always been a catcher, I guess you could say,” Eaves admitted. “I always really liked jackpotting and wasn’t much of a rodeo guy. I wanted to see how many I could catch.”
Now he’s just catching them super fast. And that’s despite struggling with Chester a little at first. The horse was trained to work completely on his own, while Eaves likes to keep a little more rein and more control through the turn and riding down the arena.
“It was a process getting him to where he didn’t think I was pulling on him when I was just holding him there,” said Eaves, who meshed with the horse in time. “A truly good horse that wants to please should adapt to you the more you rope. Every roper’s different and neither way is right or wrong; I just like a little pressure on the reins even if a horse doesn’t need it.”
Having spent most of the past six years living in his horse trailer at Allen Bach’s or David Key’s place and several places in between, Eaves has been enjoying the home he bought last year with Kaleb Driggers outside Stephenville.
But he won’t see it again anytime soon, Eaves is on the road this summer hoping to win another Canadian championship with Bird—and a gold buckle would go nicely with it.