With no National Finals Rodeo to prepare for and no National Western Stock Show in Denver in January, I’ve got three months without a big rodeo that I can dedicate to looking for horses and riding young horses. That’s a first for me, so here’s my plan.
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You can’t go to an Open roping in Texas and not be on a $50,000 heel horse. It’s way too tough anywhere these days to show up on a green horse. But my good horses—even my second and third string—don’t need to be going to $75-a-man ropings all day, either. So finding something far enough along to compete, but young enough to take the reps, isn’t easy.
Rey wasn’t proven when I bought him and Dugout was 5 and had just been to some amateur rodeos. Both of those deals just worked out. It took me three or four years to season Rey when I had Dugout. When it came to Sug, the horse I’ve been riding now, I won the American on him before I bought him, and he’d been around. It really worked out on all three of those horses. But buying a green horse, even one that’s been hauled, you think you know them until you put them through the pressures of Fourth of July Rodeos and big crowds and building rodeos. It takes going through quite a few to find one that works.
I’m going to Arizona early this winter to start looking. I’m thinking of getting myself some 3-year-olds to rope the lead steer and dummy on so I can have something coming up a couple years from now, and I’m also in the hunt for something that’s 8 that I can take somewhere. The thing is, I’m not the only one looking for a horse. You can’t find a prospect these days, and when you do, the seller knows how rare the good ones are and prices them accordingly.
I for sure want to ride everything. For an older horse, I like when I’ve really seen him go quite a bit. I don’t like when someone brings one to my house for me to try just one time—I’d rather seen them go more. For the young ones, a better set of papers matters more than on the older horses—I don’t care how they’re bred if they really know their job and do it well.