Erich Rogers of Casa Grande, Arizona, has made the Big Show nine straight times, with a goal of making it 10. He credits horsepower.
“The backbone of me having a chance to get to Vegas every year? Horses that let me rope to the best of my ability,” he said. “If you have two or three good horses that can shine, well, when they shine, you shine.”
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In 2011, Rogers had a mediocre horse he called Putz, for which he’d paid $4,500. He made it work despite the horse not scoring very well. But nine years ago, you could get by on a mediocre one, he said. Today, that’s really tough to do.
But even then, he knew the difference, so in 2012 he invested $30,000 in Bugs Night Robber. Rogers got four years of Finals action out of “Rob” before the horse went downhill in 2016. He’d purchased a bay called Hot Shot in 2015, then in 2017 bought the dun horse Boogeyman. Those two mounts have sent Rogers back to the NFR the past three years. What’s more, they’re only 12 and 13 years old.
One of the challenges of creating a streak of NFR qualifications is swapping partners, to be sure.
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“One of my biggest goals, day in and day out, is to catch every steer that I nod my head for,” said Rogers, who will rope in Las Vegas with Kyle Lockett after trying hard to get Paden Bray there. “I want to give my heeler a chance to turn in and rope two feet every single time. I feel like I’ve done that pretty good lately. I just see it as my job to make sure I turn a good steer for my guy every time I nod my head.”
It’s getting tougher and tougher to make the Finals with so many young guns reaching so far and ducking so fast. So Rogers reconsidered his notion that you can’t make it on a mediocre horse—as long as it scores well. At the end of the day, wanting a gold buckle is what helps incentivize Rogers to keep up his streak.
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“I’ll want to be there until I don’t feel the same way every time I ride into that arena with the yellow walls,” said Rogers. “Until the hair on the back of my neck doesn’t stand up or it finally gets old.”