I thought it was so awesome that my horse Thumper (the 14-year-old black horse's registered name is Docalickin) won the 2005 PRCA/AQHA Head Horse of the Year award because he's special.
Thumper doesn't have any weaknesses. He works just as good at the BFI as he does at the NFR. In all conditions, whether it's a big arena, small arena, short score, long score-it doesn't matter. He scores, he runs, he faces. He doesn't have one weak spot. He won't overrun your throw in a short score, and he can run over a long score. He adapts to whatever situation we're in.
This horse has such a personality. When he was tied up at Pendleton, he was playing hide and seek with Wade Wheatley's kid over the fence. He loves other horses and he loves people. He's great to haul, and he's an easy keeper. He's just a pleasure to be around. The only thing he doesn't like is fly spray, but that's the only thing I've found that he doesn't like.
Thumper belongs to (his wife) Bobbie's mom, Pauline (Robertson), and everybody in their family has ridden this horse. Pauline headed on him, Bobbie headed on him, Bobbie's little brother Clay headed on him, Bobbie's sister, Arena, has headed on him, her brother (NFR heeler) Matt has headed and heeled on him, her brother John has headed on him and her dad, Jeff, has roped on him.
Thumper's story is so unique, because a whole family has ridden him. You can't usually put a little kid on a high-powered head horse, but he'll tone it right down to take care of a kid and then turn around and give me all he's got when the big money's up.
Bobbie's grandpa, Bob Robertson, bought Thumper when he was 3 at a sale up in Canada. The Canadians have told me since I started riding him that he was one of the better horses in that sale, but he had no ears because he got frostbitten when he was a colt. He went cheaper than they thought he would, so Bob bought him. Then all the Robertsons rode him. They started heeling on him, but he got too high-powered to heel on, so they went to mostly heading on him.
I started riding Thumper in the fall of 2004. I didn't really have a horse to ride at a roping, so Bobbie let me ride him. He felt better than anything I had at the time, so I kept riding him. The first big place I rode him was the USTRC Finals, and he worked really good. So I rode him at Dallas and the NFR, and he was outstanding. (Tryan and Michael Jones set the 3.7-second NFR record en route to winning the average and setting the $95,101 team roping earnings record at NFR '04.) I've been riding him ever since.
I rode Thumper at about 30 rodeos in 2005. I tried to take it easy on him, so he'll last. When one's this good, you only ride him at all the big spots because the hauling's hard on them.
Thumper's the best horse I've ever ridden. Travis' (bay) horse, Walt is great, too, but Thumper fits me better than any horse I've ever ridden. He's just so easy to rope on. He runs flat, rates perfect, pulls and faces good. You throw all that out there, and it just makes it easy.
The head horse is the key to the whole team, in my eyes. It makes the header and the heeler better. It's all about how fast you catch up. The ropers have a lot to do with it, too, but a good mount is a big key. He sets the whole run up. It's so much harder without a good one. You might win something on a lesser horse, but you are not going to dominate.
I love this horse. There's nothing not to love about him. My wife's ridden him a lot, and it's been fun for her to see him on the big stage. She's loved him for so long.
When you get to ride a good horse, it's like you're a team. The good ones are superstar athletes, so you really need to take care of them. We ride him every day to keep him in shape, and we feed him right. We keep him in big pens, and don't ever stall him up. We also keep him shod right on schedule.
Thumper is just so tough. They started roping on him when he was 3, and 10 years later he just keeps getting better. He's durable, and he's ready to go every time you need him.
Thumper loves his job. Even today, if you wanted to run 30 steers on him in the practice pen, he'd do the same thing on the 30th steer as he would on the first one. I know I'm playing for the home team here, but he's the best there is. I've never seen a horse in my life who can work under every condition like he can. It's very rare, and I feel very lucky to get to ride him.
This horse has a lot of heart. He's so willing to do whatever you ask him to do. You can't make one be this good. Great horses like Thumper and Walt have that something special about them. They want to do it. They love it. I think Thumper knows he's great.