Situation: First round at the Sandhills Stock Show & Rodeo in Odessa, Texas
Time: 4.2 seconds
Outcome: Tied for first in the first round with Garett Chick and Walt Woodard and Nelson Wyatt and Levi Lord, worth $1,896 a man, and won the average with a time of 8.8 seconds on two head, worth $3,271 a man.
Setup: You used to back down inside the hole and come out of it. The boxes were literally right in the middle. They pulled it straight forward and moved it all to the right this year.
That steer was awesome. They ran the steers for the rodeo in the second round of the jackpot so we kind of had a little more of a feel for them. There was obviously 100 and something that they ran, so we didn’t know exactly what we had, and no one wrote them down. We knew what the steers were going to kind of be like—old tripping steers. That steer had a little frame—little body. I didn’t look at the steer, honestly, just because it’s hard to go over there when they put them all behind the arena. We were team 19, so we were kind of in the beginning and I just kind of looked at him from two steers back and he looked great. He came walking up and I was excited about it. I kind of knew JR was going to go at him.
b) JR Dees:
JR did a great job. He hit the barrier as close as he could, and he got it on him fast and square. I thought we were fixing to be about 3.8, to be honest with you. I knew he was going to bring the heat. Nobody does that in the first round. It probably wasn’t the best strategy on a two header, but it let us come back and just let off and make a good run on our second run. He was extremely sharp. JR headed phenomenal. He was absolutely as tapped off as I’ve seen him.
JR rode him last year in between horses and this year he started right off with ‘I’m going to ride this one horse every single time I show up for money.’ He got really tapped on that sorrel horse. He was sharp and that horse really came back good to get those steers out of the way. That horse is sharp for how big he is. A guy doesn’t realize how big that horse is. He shouldn’t be able to do the stuff that he does.
He’s just now getting rodeoed on enough that he was great. He was tired from a couple days before that. That’s usually not Shooter’s setup, but he was phenomenal. He really let me push on him. I’m not kidding, I pushed him to the very end, and he was almost a little on the wrong side and came back across phenomenal. Shooter was great all week. He’s starting to mature a lot in those barns. He was tight, which let me push him and finish strong. When I started roping with JR a year ago, I didn’t really pull back enough and help finish the run. He was super strong. That horse has been a blessing to me.
That arena is kind of funny. A guy cannot push a steer to the left at Odessa. If they step to the left, you’re almost out. It takes too long so it’s hard. You have to have something fast enough to score long enough and then be right there. It’s almost like the finals. Those guys have to have a good heel horse to stay back. People don’t realize how good a heel horse has to be. You think you can just get on something. Well, it’s not like that anymore, especially with the head horse like that. JR put as much heat on that run as he did. I kind of had to pull back and get to the end of it before JR made him hit. Without stepping that steer to the left, I thought that steer ran a great pattern and he pushed on me a little bit, which allowed me to push back on him. When the neck rope broke on our second steer we knew he was going to step and ideally we were a little longer. We made a great run on our second one. We should have placed but that step to the left cost us half a second. That steer left there and stepped a little to the right. I didn’t miss the barrier but I didn’t leave too early. Usually Shooter is running so hard that when someone throws right there he’s a little hard to get back.
That’s the most-asked question from a heeler seeking advice on where to look going down the arena. I try to keep a peripheral vision on the run. I like to keep a little bit of where my header is. You can almost see when the neck rope breaks and then when the rope comes tight. You can see where those steers are going to hit or when they’re going to hit. You can tell a lot if your man bobbles his wraps or something. I try to look at the hips of the steer and keep my eyes at the back of the steer. But, at the same time I try to keep in my vision what’s going on in the run. Instead of just going straight in and not knowing where my partner is or where we’re headed or what direction we’re going down the arena. You can tell if JR’s horse stumbles or if he slides a little rope. I never actually saw JR right there, I just knew that he was done.
I use a softer rope, myself. I feel like I have a lot more rope control. The steers are big, rodeo-based, but they’re drawn up. They’re kind of skinny and they’re not just super strong. Those steers would take funny hops and with the medium-soft rope, I feel like I have more control of my rope and where I’m placing my rope. I don’t have to have near as much on my swing to be able to put it where I want it.