GUYMON, Okla. – The last time Tanner Aus tested his talent against one of Pete Carr’s bucking horses, the Minnesota bareback rider didn’t finish quite as well as he would’ve liked.
Aus matched moves with the great horse Dirty Jacket for just 81 points in the final round of the Ram National Circuit Finals a month ago in Oklahoma City. It’s the kind of match-up that is typically worth 87 points, which would’ve helped Aus to the national championship. Instead, he finished fourth, with an 86 taking the top prize.
Sunday might be vendetta day for Aus, who is matched with Dirty Jacket during the final day of the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 4; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 6.
“Tanner had that horse in Oklahoma City, and that was probably his first big pressure cooker he’s really been in,” said Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo, the primary stock contractor in Guymon. “He was in the final four for that championship, and he was the top guy coming back.
“He’s maturing and getting some experience. This weekend, he’ll definitely know how to handle the situation this time and take advantage of his draw. “
Aus is one of the rising stars in bareback riding. A year ago he finished 31st in the world standings, edging ever closer to the top 15, those who qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Dirty Jacket is an 8-year-old bay gelding who has been to the NFR each of the last three years.
Oh, and cowboys have won Pioneer Days Rodeo on his back each of the last four years.
But that’s just one of the tremendous match-ups set for the four performances inside Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena over three days of competition. Another rising star in bareback riding, J.R. Vezain, has drawn Carr’s MGM Deuces Night, regularly considered one of the top horses in the game. Veteran NFR qualifier Ryan Gray will test another great finals horse, Big Lights, while rookie standings leader Richie Champion will match moves with NFR horse YoYo. Joe Frost, a freshman at nearby Oklahoma Panhandle State University, will test his young talent against Full Baggage, the reigning PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year.
There are numerous rising stars who will be matched up against one another in bull riding, from world standings leader Cody Teel and Carr’s Poker Face to rookie sensation Trey Benton III and Carr’s Private Eyes – Benton won the rodeo in Mercedes, Texas, in March on another Carr Bull. There are several great young bulls that Pete Carr is excited to see against the best cowboys in the world who will be part of the festivities in Guymon.
“We’ve worked really hard to pull the best bulls around the country to Guymon,” Carr said. “We put a lot of effort to reaching out to finding the highest quality bulls to bring to the Richest Rodeo in Oklahoma to match up with the best talent that comes to town to create the best possible show for the spectators.
“We try hard every time we go to a rodeo, but the fans here are experienced, so we’re trying extra hard to bring the highest quality stock here. They’re rodeo aficionados, and we want them to enjoy the rodeo.”
A big part of the intrigue has to be the set of bulls Carr recently acquired. Poker Face and Private Eyes are just two of the animals that will show off their tremendous athleticism in Guymon for the first time.
“Ardie Meier has The Mexican; he’s going to ride that bull and be a bunch of points,” Carr said. “The Sunday bull riding in Guymon is going to look like the 10th round at the NFR.”
Australian Sam Spreadborough just won the saddle bronc riding title at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. A two-time NFR qualifier, Spreadborough will try his hand with Carr’s Cowboy Cowtown.
“Sam’s been riding well, and he’s trying to make it to the finals for the third time in a row,” Carr said. “Cowboy Cowtown came out of Cowboy, the most recognized horse in Canada. Cowboy Cowtown is a stud, and he’s been really good. World champion Cody Wright had him at the largest rodeo in the country a couple months ago and was a bunch of points on him.
Panhandle State will be well represented during the bronc riding, and Carr likes the match-ups he sees between those cowboys and the animals they have drawn.
“Travis Sheets has Let ’Er Rip, and they won this rodeo on that horse last year,” Carr said. “Your reigning world champion, Taos Muncy, has Cool Runnings, which has been one of the highest marked horses this year and should be, hands down, and NFR horse.”
Cool Runnings bucked off Panahandle State cowboy Josh Reynolds during the RNCFR a month ago and has been on the radar for bronc riding’s best. But there are a bunch of horses like that in Guymon.
“We’re definitely in bronc riding country,” Carr said. “We’ve hand picked the best broncs from Wyoming to South Dakota to Oklahoma to Texas to be here for the top cowboys in the PRCA. Everybody has a chance to win a check.”