Top animal athletes, great weather draw cowboys to Eagle

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EAGLE, Colo. – For a rodeo cowboy, there are few things that can top winning one’s hometown rodeo.

Cody Martin is hoping to find out when the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo kicks off its 2011 run, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 27-Saturday, July 30. Back-to-back wins in the Rocky Mountain community would be great for the Eagle cowboy, who split last year’s saddle bronc riding championship with Texan Bradley Harter.

Martin, a two-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, rode the Carr Pro Rodeo bronc Corner Guard for 87 points, matching Harter’s ride on Carr’s Mike & Ike. It was a great weekend for the two cowboys, but it was a better weekend for the animals.

“Those horses just love the cool weather that Eagle gets in July,” said Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo, the Dallas-based livestock company that provides the stock for the annual rodeo. “Corner Guard was out twice, and both times was very good.”

In fact, Troy Crowser of Whitewood, S.D., finished in a tie for third place with his 84-point ride on Corner Guard – Crowser finished the 2010 season as the Resistol Saddle Bronc Riding Rookie of the Year. In two trips inside the Eagle River Center, cowboys earned $3,540 on Corner Guard. Harter, though, found quite a fit in Mike & Ike. In all, the money earned in Eagle went a long ways to helping Harter earn his fifth NFR qualification.

Like every other bronc rider in the business, Harter knows the opportunities to win money in Eagle are many, thanks to Carr Pro Rodeo.

“You definitely want to go somewhere that you have a chance to win,” said Casey Sisk of Corona, N.M., a rising star in saddle bronc riding. “Pete’s got a great pen of bucking horses, the kind you like getting on.”

Money is the root of all rodeo madness, and there’s plenty of that available in Eagle. But the main drawing card for cowboys is the opportunity to get on the great animal athletes. That’s how bull riders can score in the 90s. In fact, that happened twice last year, when Texans Stormy Wing and Jarrod Craig posted 92s.

Wing rode China Grove, while Craig matched moves with Ryan’s Express, a bull that has only been ridden 34 percent of the time. But in Eagle last July, Ryan’s Express was electric.

“That was the best I’ve seen that bulls,” Carr said. “The judges really liked him both times he was out.”

The judges like a lot of Carr animals, which is why the top cowboys in the sport make their way to Eagle. But there are a lot of other reasons, too.

“We’re running concurrent with the Cheyenne this year, so I look to pull a lot of roughstock riders,” said Brad Higgins, the fair’s manager, referring to cowboys who compete in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. “It’s only about a three-hour trip to Cheyenne, so that’ll make it fairly easy for the contestants.”

And the contestants have taken note.

“Pete Carr, in general, is a great stock contractor,” said bull rider D.J. Domangue, a three-time NFR qualifier from Wharton, Texas. “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.”


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