Tyler Pearson is a five-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo steer wrestler who’s won well over $1 million in his professional cowboy career. The 2017 world champion, who lives in Atoka, Oklahoma, with his wife, Carissa, and kids, Stetson and Steelie, is 38 now. He’s always loved to rope and is these days spending more time team roping than ever before.
Q: How long have you roped?
A: I’ve roped since the eighth grade. My dad roped a lot, so I grew up roping and roped way before I bulldogged. I roped way better when I was young, then fell in love with bulldogging and took about 10 years off from team roping. I’m getting back into team roping now in a much bigger way.
Q: When and why did the bulldogging become your main event?
A: Once I got to college (at the University of West Alabama), I started rodeoing with Herbert Theriot. It was toward the end of his career, and we amateur rodeoed around the house, in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. We had a horse of Alfalfa Feddersen’s they called Smoke, that they’d ridden at the NFR. Herbert won the calf roping and bulldogging about everywhere we went, but I started winning good in the bulldogging, too. The bulldogging surpassed the team roping for me when I was in college. My college coach, Jason Schoenfeld, was a bulldogger, and he had us practice last to give us all the time we wanted. We worked at it, we had a blast, and that’s when I decided I wanted to rodeo for a living.
Q: Have you always mostly heeled?
A: I have. I heeled when I was really young, when I first started roping. I won a state high school title heading for Wes Brunson. After that, I went back to heeling, and have heeled ever since.
Q: Who’s helped you with your roping along the way?
A: I’ve had a lot of cowboy friends in my career. Where I’m living now, I’ve had a lot of help from guys like Nick Rowland, Jessen James and Rance Doyal. I’ve been around Marcus (Theriot; Herbert’s son) since he was a baby, and now he helps me and Stetson quite a bit.
Q: Has being a world-class bulldogger helped your roping?
A: No. I get just as nervous for an $800 jackpot as I did for the short round at Dodge City. It’s the worst when I’m roping with Stetson. When I rope, it’s at a whole different level of confidence than when I’m bulldogging. And generally speaking, team ropers are on a whole different level of horsemanship than bulldoggers. Steer wrestlers go straight and as fast as we can go. Team ropers need to use both feet, and when I’m high call for a bunch of money at a jackpot, my feet don’t move very good.
Q: How hard are you rodeoing now?
A: I went out there in 2023 for about a month in the summertime, from Estes Park, Colorado, through Dodge City, to season a bulldogging horse. I’d been battling some injuries, and finally got healthy. We call this 14-year-old dark chestnut horse, who used to be a head horse, The Racehorse, and he’s special. He’s the closest thing to Scooter I’ve ever ridden, and I ended up winning enough on him that month in the summer and at a few rodeos in the fall to get into the buildings this year. My goal is to make the Finals on this horse. At 38, bulldogging is starting to hurt, and I get sore. But I want to try hard to make it on this horse.
Q: Your mini-me Stetson is 9 now, and really loves to rope, right?
A: Yes. Stetson’s a heeler and is absolutely obsessed with it. When I tell you this kid ropes and watches roping videos all the time, I mean he watches them all night.
Q: Are you getting to go to a lot of ropings these days?
A: If we’re not bulldogging at a rodeo, we’re at a roping. I don’t jump a lot of steers in the practice pen anymore. A lot of people come over to rope now, and if we’re not bulldogging, we’re roping.
Q: Do you have a No. 1 heel horse?
A: I do. I just bought a red roan from Joseph Harrison. He’s just turning 7, we call him William (which is short for Countin On William), and I really like him. He’s extremely nice, and putting all the runs on Dippin Dots was too much.
Q: How’s your fan-favorite Appaloosa Dippin Dots doing these days?
A: We’re still roping on him. He’ll be in the Rancho Rio Sale in March. We’re damn sure not going to give him away, so we’ll just see how that goes.
Q: Have I heard right that you’ve been going to some of the rope-horse futurities?
A: Yes and no. I entered my 5-year-old, Tinman (South Spur Firewater), in the Riata Buckle Roping at the Lazy E in November. Tate Kirchenschlager rode this one for me and did a heck of a job.
Q: What are your team roping goals for 2024?
A: I just want to keep jackpotting with Stetson. I’m never going to pro rodeo team rope, but I’m more in love with team roping than ever before. To go get greedy at the (Ariat) World Series (of Team Roping) Finale would be the best thing. I just want to have a ball roping with my son. And when we’re not rodeoing, we’ll be roping. TRJ