LAS VEGAS – The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is a place to showcase the greatest athletes in the sport on the biggest stage.
Carr Pro Rodeo had its fair share.
Bareback horse MGM Deuces Night led two cowboys to go-round victories and checks worth $17,885 each – Ryan Gray of Cheney, Wash., posted a 90-point ride on the 6-year-old bay/paint mare to win the fifth round, while Kaycee Feild of Payson, Utah, matched moves with her for 87 points to win the 10th round and close out his 2011 world championship in fine fashion.
“Horses like that have a bucking style … it’s not easy in any means, but if you do stub your toe, you’re going to get bucked off,” Feild said. “But those horses are the ones where you can really show your ability to ride. They hang in the air, and they’re really electric.”
It was the second time this season Feild had been matched with MGM Deuces Night, and both made for a winning formula – the two matched up in the final round of the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City for 90 points to share the round victory with Bobby Mote of Culver, Ore., who had ridden a former bareback riding horse of the year to the same score.
While it didn’t count toward the more than $300,000 Feild earned en route to his Montana Silversmiths gold buckle, it provided plenty of confidence.
“I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to be enough points to help me win that round, because it’s a younger horse,” Feild said. “Then he left there that first jump, then the second, and I knew I had a chance to show my ability to my full ability. He slipped a little, but he got right back up and started right back where he left off.
“He was just outstanding.”
That’s the kind of bucking horse that is in the mare’s bloodline. Her father is Night Jacket, one of the most sought-after sires in the bucking horse industry, and her dam is Night Line. The 2011 NFR was her second invitation to the NFR, ProRodeo’s year-end championship that features the top 15 contestants in each event – in fact, the top bareback riders in the game select the horses that bucked at the finale.
That suited Gray, who had been matched against MGM Deuces Night during the Justin Boots Championships this past September in Omaha, Neb. The mare got the better of the veteran bareback rider three months ago, but he stepped up to the plate in Las Vegas.
“(I) settled down a little tonight and let the horse do her thing,” Gray said. “(I) was able to stay right with her and be aggressive. Last time, I overdid it and was all over the place. It worked out a lot better tonight.”
Things worked out pretty well for Clint Cannon of Waller, Texas, in the eighth round of the 10-night contest, when he was matched against Real Deal, the 2005 Bareback Riding Horse of the Year. The two matched moves across the Thomas & Mack Center dirt for 83.5 points to share the round victory with Mote and Feild.
“That’s a rank bucking horse, but I’ve had some success on him,” Cannon said of the 12-year-old brown gelding. “He’s the kind that will chew you up and spit you out. He’ll hurt you, but I’d like to draw that horse at any rodeo I go to.”
It was Cannon’s only round victory of the 2011 championship, but it was big. Clint Sciba, a good friend from hometown and rodeo committee chairman of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, was on hand to witness the ride and the Montana Silversmiths Go-Round Buckle Presentation, where Cannon was presented a matching buckle with Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo, who happens to provide livestock to the Waller County event in Hempstead, Texas.
“How often do you see that where the rodeo chairman gets to watch his hometown friend win the round on a bucking horse owned by the stock contractor he hired?” Carr asked that Thursday, Dec. 8. “I think that’s one of the great stories of the night.”
So did Cannon.
“I’ve been on that bucking horse a bunch of times, and we’ve done pretty well together,” said Cannon, a three-time NFR qualifier and two-time RodeoHouston champion. “He’s hurt me a couple of times, one real bad, but I’ve also been 90 on him three times.”
In all, ProRodeo’s best cowboys earned $118,367 on the backs of Carr Pro Rodeo animal athletes. Casey Colletti of Pueblo, Colo., set the standard early with an 87.5-point ride on Black Coffee on the first night of action. That was worth second place in the first go-round, helping the Colorado cowboy to a $14,135 payday.
That was the course of the play over the remaining nine days of rodeo’s most rugged test. Grass Dancer, a 10-year-old buckskin mare, carried Gray to second place in the second go-round and was the highest marked bareback horse of the night. Saddle bronc Empty Pockets bucked off Heith DeMoss of Heflin, La., in the seventh round; the 7-year-old bay gelding was named the high-marked bronc of the night.
“Most people don’t realize how tough it is to win a go-round buckle at the finals, and we were fortunate enough to win three this year,” Carr said. “These are the best guys and the best animals in rodeo; you have to get pretty lucky to ever win one round.”