STEPHENVILLE, Texas – D.J. Domangue makes a living on the backs of nearly a ton of bucking flesh.
That’s the life of a bull rider, and Domangue has been at this business for most of the past decade. Three times in his nine-year career, the Louisiana-born cowboy has played on the biggest stage in ProRodeo, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He knows the importance of collecting as much money as he possibly can in a sport where the contestants with the largest earnings at the end of the season are crowned world champions.
“You’ve got to take advantage of all the opportunities,” said Domangue, 28, of Wharton, Texas.
He hopes to return to the pay window at the Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo, which will have three performances scheduled for Thursday, June 9-Saturday, June 11, at Lone Star Arena. He’s just a year removed for finishing third at Stephenville’s annual rodeo, where he rode Carr Pro Rodeo’s Black Out for 81 points.
Cowboys know they’ll have a great opportunity to make money in Erath County primarily because of the Dallas-based Carr Pro Rodeo, and owner Pete Carr does everything he can to give every contestant a chance.
“Pete Carr, in general, is a great stock contractor,” Domangue said. “He spends a lot of money and tries real hard to try to improve his stock. He’s already got great horses, and he is trying to put together a good pen of bulls.
“Plus he’s a great guy, and that’s hard to come by when you’re talking about stock contractors in rodeo. He listens to the cowboys. He wants to know what we think, and he wants our opinions. He wants to get the top guys.”
That seems to be a theme among cowboys who wrap their hands to a rope that’s tied around nearly a ton of bucking muscle.
“The great thing about Pete is that he went out and bought some new bulls,” said J.W. Harris, the three-time reigning world champion from Mullin, Texas. “He’s actually trying to get a better bull herd, which is more than you can say for a lot of stock contractors.”
Improvement is important for Carr, whether it’s trying to make the production of a rodeo smoother or investing in great animal athletes.
“I think the fans come to the rodeo to see the best show they can see, and we’re there to put it on for them,” Carr said. “We want them to enjoy the experience from beginning to end and to leave that arena wanting more. I’ve got people around me that work very hard to make that happen.”
The key is to focus on the fans, he said, but a contractor must pay know to the cowboys’ needs.
“I know he’s trying hard,” said Shawn Hogg, an NFR qualifier from Odessa, Texas. “He’s got a lot better set of bulls than a lot of guys, and it’s just getting better.”
That’s all contestants can ask for.
“The guys want to go to rodeos and see that there are things that are making a difference,” said Ardie Maier of Timber Lake, S.D. “With Pete, you can tell he’s working hard at getting a good set of bulls. It helps, because it gives everybody a chance.”