Paul Eaves knows the value of a great horse—and when he heard Cole Davison was stepping off the rodeo road in favor of showing futurity horses, he had to have Davison’s Apolo Oak.
“Apollo”—the 13-year-old son of CD Olena out of the Shining Spark mare Shiners Little Oak—carried Davison to back-to-back NFR qualifications in 2018 and 2019. He’s the number-one horse Davison rode for the last six years, having come from Davison’s old partner (and current No. 2 header in the world) Rhen Richard as a futurity standout.
World’s Greatest Horseman Corey Cushing rode the horse in the cow horse as a 2- and 3-year-old for breeders San Juan Ranches before the Richard family’s A&C Racing and Roping bought him as a rope-horse prospect. This was all pre-rope-horse-futurity-business in the U.S., so Richard took him to Canada and swept each round of each futurity they entered on the heel side.
“I honestly only ran four steers on him before I bought him,” Davison said. ” I ran those four on him slow, really easy, and he could literally drag his butt at a trot. He had a different feel than you can find anywhere else.”
Davison took him to the rodeos as a 6-year-old, and he learned to trust him—quickly.
“That horse is fast and so uphill and on his ass so much, that Rhen put him in a good spot and taught him everything,” Davison explained. “Rhen was still coming off of being a heeler, so he was really dialed in. He just needed to go see the sights. The first big rodeo I rode that horse at was Salinas. I’d wake up early, lope the crap out of him, but I realized I didn’t need to and he didn’t give a darn. At San Antone, he just walked in there like he’d been there 10 times. He’s by far as good as they come.”
But Davison—who’s been racking up the wins at the Royal Crown and ARHFA events—is moving away from the rodeos and into the horse-show world full-time. So after multiple NFR go-round wins, Canadian Finals and hundreds of thousands in ProRodeo earnings, Davison made the hard decision to his long-time partner.
“He’s still got a lot of years left, and I hate to see him go to waste,” Davison, 34, said. “He doesn’t owe me anything but I couldn’t stand seeing him get fat sitting in a pen.”
When the world’s best found out through word of mouth that Apollo was on the market, there was a feeding frenzy to get him bought. The two-time World Champ Eaves was the first to commit just two weeks ago, and the rest has been history.
Their first rodeo together was the Dinosaur Roundup in Vernal, Utah, when a tough steer got Erich Rogers and Eaves a 10th-place check with a 7.9-second run for $921 a man. They got two down fast to come back to the performances at Salt Lake, and they followed that up with a win at the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, making a fourth-place 5.9-second run worth $1,699 a man in the first round and a 12.0-on-two to win the average and $4,688 a man. They drove from Sheridan to the qualifying round of the Cheyenne Frontier Days, and their 7.3-second run at The Daddy of ‘Em All banked them $4,900 a man.
“He’s so easy to rope on,” Eaves said. “Cole and Rhen did a great job of making him one of the most solid heel horses going, and it’s hard to believe a guy could get the chance to buy him. I’ve got my mare Jade who’s been so great for years, but adding Apollo to the team should help lengthen both of their careers.”
While the gamble on the new horse is already paying dividends, Eaves still isn’t 100% with him.
“I’m learning to trust him through the corner,” Eaves said. “He’s so dang easy, it’s hard to believe a horse requires that little help, but he really does. I just can focus on my roping and let the horse work.”
As of July 18, Eaves sat 10th in the PRCA world standings without his Cheyenne Round 1 or Salt Lake City qualifier money included. TRJ