BRIDGEPORT, Texas – Pete Carr knows that the line between success and failure is small, and the advantage is always with the people in your corner.
That’s why Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo, has enlisted the help of the very best that ProRodeo has to offer. They’ll all be in Bridgeport for the Butterfield Stage Days PRCA Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 11-12, at Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.
“I believe that it takes great people to make great things happen,” said Carr, the stock provider in Bridgeport. “I’m proud of the crew that we have, and we’re all excited to be part of the Butterfield Stage Days rodeo.”
Paul Peterson is a veteran cowboy, a man who just missed qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in saddle bronc riding a couple decades ago. In the years since, he became one of the premier pickup men in the sport, working the biggest rodeos in the world, including the NFR three times. He’s worked every rodeo Carr Pro Rodeo has produced since the company was founded.
This year, he has transitioned into a new role: Peterson is the flankman, who helps the bucking animals with the strap that gives them the leverage they need to buck.
“Everything’s for the better,” said Peterson, who lives in Southland, Texas, with his wife, Danya, and their two daughters. “I really enjoy it.”
Carr has served as the flankman for several years, but as owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm, Carr has numerous other responsibilities that need his attention. Therefore, having a veteran like Peterson handling the flanking responsibilities is a benefit to the operation.
“Paul has been a valuable part of our team since our first rodeo,” Carr said. “Paul is one of the most versatile people you’ll meet, and in rodeo, he can do almost everything. He knows these animals, and that plays a lot into what he’s done with us from the very beginning.
“I want to surround myself with the best, and that’s what I get with Paul.”
How important is it to understand the animal athletes?
“Every horse is going to take a different kind of flank,” Peterson said. “Those older horses, the ones that have been around a long time, they need a little bit more of a flank, but the colts will need less. You’ve got to figure out what’s going to be the best flank for each of the animals to perform at their best.
“You can ruin the horse or get him to the NFR.”
Peterson has been around a lot of great animals in his time, and it served him well as a pickup man. Now those duties fall on Shawn Calhoun and Jason Bottoms – Bottoms has worked the NFR multiple times, and Calhoun just picked up at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. Now Peterson will take to the task of flankman with the same gusto.
“You’ve just got to know the animals,” Peterson said. “I think I’ve watched most of Pete’s horses a long time. So far it’s worked out.
“You take into consideration where the horse come from and what they’ve done to him in the past and if you’ve raised him. It helps to know a lot about what their mom is and what she was like; a lot of time they’re going to be just like her.”
The NFR is an annual showcase of the very best in ProRodeo, from the top 15 contestants in each event and discipline to the best personnel. John and Sandy Gwatney have worked the NFR for several years and are a big reason behind Carr Pro Rodeo’s success. Bullfighters Chris Kirby and Dusty Duba not only help protect fallen bull riders, but also they handle many of the behind-the-scenes tasks that go on at each rodeo.
Fans also will get to see the comedy of barrelman Mark Swingler, recognized as one of the top entertainers in the sport, and they’ll hear the encyclopedic call of announcer Charlie Throckmorton mixed with the tunes and tones of soundman Benje Bendele.
Throckmorton has called the action at the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping 11 times, and Bendele has provided the sound at the biggest rodeos in North America – including the NFR – for the past two decades.
“I think one of our greatest assets is the people we’re involved with,” Carr said. “No matter what their tasks are, we have experienced people in place. I think that makes us a stronger company.”