Big Tex leads a cowboy to national title for the third straight year
OKLAHOMA CITY – The final-four round of the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo featured many of the top bucking horses and bulls in the sport.
But nearly every cowboy inside State Fair Arena had their eyes on two great bucking beasts: Big Tex and Dirty Jacket. Both are among the elite animal athletes in ProRodeo, and they’re owned by Texas-based stock contractor Pete Carr.
“Coming into this rodeo, they asked me what was my dream draw,” said Curtis Garton, a Kaitaia, New Zealand, cowboy now living in Lake Charles, La. “I didn’t have to think about that: Big Tex.”
The dream came true in the final round. Garton matched moves with the bay gelding from Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo for 86 points to win the round at ProRodeo’s national championship. Overall, he won $19,332 in Oklahoma City and a $20,000 voucher to be used for the purchase of a Ram truck or other Chrysler vehicle.
“I can’t even explain how happy I am,” Garton said. “It’s a huge thing. This rodeo right here is one of the biggest rodeos in the nation. Las Vegas is the Super Bowl of rodeo, and then this one. For me to be able to win that buckle and get on that great horse and to be national champion of the Ram Circuit Finals is just amazing.”
The victory marked the third straight year that Big Tex guided a cowboy to the championship. Two years ago, bareback rider Bobby Mote won his first RNCFR title after an 87-point ride on Big Tex, who was just a few months removed from being crowned the 2010 PRCA Bareback riding Horse of the Year.
Last April, Australian saddle bronc rider Sam Spreadborough won the RNCFR title with an 86.
“They just got done winning San Antonio on him; they won Houston on him,” said Garton, who shared the semifinal-round victory with an 82-point ride atop Carr Pro Rodeo’s Empty Pockets. “He’s just an amazing horse. He’s big and just loves to buck.
“I just thank the Lord that it all worked out.”
Combined, RNCFR contestants won more than $30,000 on animals owned by Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo and Carr Pro Rodeo. That’s the kind of livestock that cowboys can see at the 33 rodeos the firms will produce in 2013.
That’s a good thing for bareback rider Jared Keylon, a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Uniontown, Kan., who was quite thankful for his final-round match-up with Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket, a 9-year-old bay gelding.
Though he didn’t win the national title, Keylon shared the round win Mote, who won the national title through the tie-breaker – Mote won the semifinal round, which gave him the slight edge over Keylon for the top prize.
Still, Keylon earned the lion’s share of the money with $14,533, thanks in large part to his 87-point ride on Dirty Jacket, which voted as the runner-up reserve champion bareback horse in the PRCA and the Texas Circuit Bareback of the Year for 2012. Last weekend, he was named the top bareback horse of the RNCFR.
“After that semifinal round when I came off so run, I had dirt all over my face, and I was feeling pretty rough,” Keylon said. “I got in the locker room, and I just kept saying to myself, ‘I hope I get Dirty Jacket; I hope I get Dirty Jacket.’ ”
It was the first time the two great athletes have been matched, and the tournament-style championship was the perfect place for Keylon and Dirty Jacket to show off their talent for a national audience.
“It was great to finally get on that horse,” Keylon said. “I’ve been dreaming about getting on that horse. He felt better than I ever dreamed.”