LOVINGTON, N.M. – The terrain that is part of the southeast New Mexico is rugged; so are the cowboys that make this their home.
This is ranching country, and the men who work this land know their business. That’s why some of the greatest timed-event cowboys in ProRodeo history come from this neck of the woods. It’s why the best in the business today will make their way to Lovington for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, which will have four performances set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10-Saturday, Aug. 13.
Hometown cowboy Guy Allen won the steer roping at last year’s event. He’s done that hundreds of time over his storied career, which is highlighted by his 18 world championships, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association record for most gold buckles by one cowboy. Allen also owns 32 consecutive qualifications to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, also a PRCA record.
“Lovington is roping country,” said Pete Carr, owner of Dallas-based Carr Pro Rodeo. “There are a lot of great ones from around there, that’s for sure.”
There are a lot of great ones who will come to town to compete every year. There’s a big purse and championship dollars on the line, so that’s a drawing card. But so is Carr and his crew of experts.
“To me, Pete Carr is one of the new wave of stock contractors as much about one end of the arena as he does the other,” said Trevor Brazile, an eight-time all-around world champion who has added three tie-down roping, two steer roping and a heading titles. “There have been stock contractors that don’t really have a complete rodeo. In my opinion, Pete puts on a complete rodeo.”
Being complete is the foundation for Carr’s livestock firm. Since its inception, Carr Pro Rodeo has had some of the greatest animal athletes in the sport, from Real Deal, the 2005 bareback riding horse of the year, to River Boat Annie, the reserve world champion bareback horse in 2007, to Air Up There, the top bucking bull in the Texas Circuit in 2008.
“The rough-stock events are just a small part of a rodeo,” Carr said, referring to bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. “Don’t get me wrong; they’re an important part of the rodeo, but I believe the best rodeos feature the best contestants and the best animals, and that goes for the timed events. I care about the calves and the steers and what they mean for our rodeo, just like I do the horses and bulls.”
If it’s ever been roped, Brazile knows about it. He’s one of just two to have qualified for the national finals in all four roping disciplines – he’s been to the steer roping finals each of the last 14 years and has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 20 times in team roping, tie-down roping and team roping (both heading and heeling).
Last year, he set the rodeo world on fire, earning coveted Triple Crown for the second time in his career by winning the all-around, tie-down roping and heading world titles in a single season – he’d won the Triple Crown in 2007 by winning the all-around, calf roping and steer roping gold buckles. Brazile also set earnings records, pocketing $507,921 in 2011, $211,509 of which came from the NFR.
“Pete has the best livestock there is to offer at both ends of the arena,” he said, referring to timed events and rough-stock events. “That’s something most stock contractors don’t have to offer … mostly that they don’t care enough to go the extra mile to do what Pete does. It costs him a little more for him to put on a rodeo because he wants it to be right.”
Carr counts on plenty of people to make it right, like timed-event chute boss John Gwatney, a timed-event contestant.
“We want to have good, even pens of livestock to give the cowboys the best chance at winning,” Gwatney said. “That’s something the contestants see when they come to one of our rodeos, and I know, from my experience, how much they appreciate that.”