GUYMON, Okla. – The best bareback riders in the world have considered Dirty Jacket one of the best bucking horses in the business for several years.
That’s good news for Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock producer that owns the horse.
“That horse has just gotten better,” said Wes Stevenson, a seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Lubbock, Texas. “I think he may have stepped it up from what we’ve seen.”
That’s better news.
In fact, it’s great news for bareback riders; it takes great animals to make great rides, and they’ve been doing that on Dirty Jacket for a number of years. The 8-year-old bay gelding has been especially great inside Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena, the home of the annual Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set this year for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 4; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 6.
You see, Dirty Jacket has been the common denominator for the Guymon bareback riding champion each of the last four years.
“They’ve won that rodeo a lot on that horse,” said reigning world champion Kaycee Feild of Payson, Utah, who won the championship round in Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this year on Dirty Jacket. “When he leaves the chute, he’s trying to kick the flankman off the back of the chute. He’s so fast, and he bucks so hard.
“There’s no way you can muscle up on him. You’ve got to be fast and aggressive, or he will get you out of shape and might get you bucked off.”
Dirty Jacket has been a fixture at the NFR, where the top cowboys in the game select the animals to be part of the field. In fact, Dirty Jacket has been part of the coveted TV pen, which is showcased in the fifth and 10th go-rounds in ProRodeo’s grand finale – the TV pen features the “showiest” bucking horses, and the moniker comes from the days when only the final round of the NFR was televised.
Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo, has a dozen animals selected to the finals each year, a couple of which are bucked in the fifth and 10th rounds. Carr owns some of the greatest bucking animals in ProRodeo, including Real Deal, the 2005 Bareback Riding Horse of the Year, and Riverboat Annie, the 2007 reserve world champion bareback horse.
“This spring is the best I’ve seen Dirty Jacket,” Carr said. “He’s been phenomenal.”
Heath Ford is the event representative for bareback riders. It’s his job to help select the horses to compete in Las Vegas. He’s also a three-time NFR qualifier, so he knows a little bit about it.
“He’s so electric,” Ford said of Dirty Jacket. “I think maybe he’s Pete’s best horse this year.”
Ford isn’t the only one who thinks that.
“I think guys are going to win a lot of money on him,” said Cody DeMers, a four-time NFR qualifier from Kimberly, Idaho. “You dang sure have to ride good. Those kinds of horses are the ones that are going to psych you up and talk you into riding good.
“Having horses like that says a lot for Pete. He takes care of those horses. He babies those horses. He probably loves those horses as much as he does his own family.”
Stevenson not only has watched Dirty Jacket grow, he has won on the horse this year. He scored 87 points in the short go-round in San Angelo, Texas, and won the rodeo. He has led the bareback riding world standings most of the year, and he’s riding well.
“That horse is in his prime,” Stevenson said. “He could be having one of the better years he’s had, and that’s saying a lot. The first time he was bucked was four years ago in Guymon, and they won the rodeo on him.”
Jerad Schlegal was the first to win the coveted title on Dirty Jacket in 2008, followed by NFR qualifier Jared Smith in 2009. Three-time world champion Will Lowe won Guymon in 2010, and two-time NFR qualifier Matt Bright won a year ago.
“That horse likes that arena a lot,” said Lowe of Canyon, Texas. “He just likes to buck. He’s such a good horse. He’s in the TV pen at the NFR, so you know he’s the one guys want to get on.”
And Dirty Jacket just loves Hitch Arena.
“It’s just a good setup for that horse,” said Carr, who has been part of Pioneer Days Rodeo for seven years. “Probably the most deciding factor is we get some of the best cowboys in the country in Guymon. When you’ve got great cowboys, they make your horses look really good. Dirty Jacket’s drawn pretty well there.”