EAGLE, Colo. – How good is Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket?
“I was so nervous before the ride,” said Taylor Price, whose 88 on the 9-year-old bay gelding earned him the bareback riding title at the West of the Pecos (Texas) Rodeo in late June. “That’s the horse you don’t want to screw up on because so many people won on. You don’t want to be that guy that messed up that horse.”
Of the seven times Dirty Jacket has performed so far this year, he’s guided cowboys to first place six times. From Ryan Gray’s final-round ride in Fort Worth, Texas, to J.R. Vezain’s big-money ride in San Antonio, the storied bronc has been the driving force for many of the world’s best bareback riders. They’ll all hope for a shot to ride him at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24-Saturday, July 27, at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
“That’s the best bucking horse I’ve ever been on in my life,” said Price, the No. 2 cowboy in the Rookie of the Year race from Huntsville, Texas.
He’s not the only cowboy who feels that way.
“There’s not another one like that horse,” said bareback rider Jared Keylon, a 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Uniontown, Kan. “Just the sheer ability to stand flat-footed and jump that high in the air is incredible. Just his athleticism alone is so impressive.”
Keylon and Dirty Jacket matched moves for 87 points to share the final round win at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo this past April in Oklahoma City.
“That horse is as good an athlete as any cowboy going down the road,” Keylon said. “When I nodded my head, it felt like we leaped 10 feet off the ground. That was the coolest horse to mark out in the world, because he shoots straight up. The way he’s built, he almost cradles you, almost saddles you up under the rigging. He almost spurs himself with the way he bucks. It was awesome.”
The highest-marked ride of the season is Dirty Jacket’s most recent trip. George Gillespie, one of the top 15 bareback riders in ProRodeo this season from Placerville, Calif., scored 89 points to win the title in Window Rock, Ariz., in early July. Of course, it wasn’t without a little anxiety; having just arrived moments before the rodeo, Gillespie hurried to for one of his biggest rides this season.
“The horses were loaded, and everybody was standing there with their riggings already on their horses,” he said. “I couldn’t miss getting on that horse.
“I was obviously excited when I saw that I’d drawn him, because I knew it was a chance to win the rodeo. Window Rock was a priority on my Fourth of July trip because of that.”
He’s atop the priority list for the best in the business in bareback riding.
“I had always wanted to get on him, but I seemed to draw around him a lot of times,” Gray, of Cheney, Wash., said while explaining the random draw that matches cowboys vs. livestock in rodeo. “I was pretty tickled to have him, especially in the short round at Fort Worth.
“He’s electric and explosive. He’s pretty rider-friendly, but he’s also fast and electric at the same time. He’s a pretty impressive horse. He’s just gotten stronger, which makes him even better now.”
That’s what makes him one of the most desirable horses in the ProRodeo and another reason all the cowboys follow Carr Pro Rodeo around the country.