postheadericon NFR horse Open Range dies

Jared Smith, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, starts his ride on Open Range during the Waller County (Texas) Fair and Rodeo in early October. Open Range, a 6-year-old bay, was selected to perform at this year's NFR. Open Range died Thursday from a neurological disorder. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Jared Smith, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, starts his ride on Open Range during the Waller County (Texas) Fair and Rodeo in early October. Open Range, a 6-year-old bay, was selected to perform at this year’s NFR. Open Range died Thursday from a neurological disorder. (JAMES PHIFER PHOTO)

Carr Pro Rodeo’s Open Range was an outstanding athlete, selected as one of the top 100 bucking horses in ProRodeo to perform at the upcoming Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

The bay was just 6 years old when it died Thursday in Bryan, Texas.

Ranch manager Jeremy Hight checked on the bucking horses and bulls at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and said everything looked fine. Open Range was in the pasture near Athens, Texas, with most of the other Carr Pro Rodeo and Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo horses that will go to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in a couple of weeks.

“The next morning, he was in dire straits,” Hight said. “The vet said it was a sudden onset neurological disorder.”

Open Range was taken to Texas Equine Hospital in Bryan, Texas, where he was treated by Dr. Cliff Honnas. Open Range suffered a seizure there and died.

“I feel empty,” said John Gwatney, Carr’s production supervisor. “I feel like we lost one of the family.”

This was to be Open Range’s first trip to the Wrangler NFR. Open Range was a half-brother to River Boat Annie, the 2007 reserve world champion bareback horse that will perform at the NFR for the ninth straight year. Open Range will be replaced by Real Deal, the 2005 Bareback Horse of the Year that also will buck for the ninth time at the NFR.

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