DALLAS – Dirty Jacket was an exceptional bucking horse the first time he bucked.
The bay gelding was just 4 years old at the time. He’s grown up a lot since then, and he’s just gotten better.
“He’s the perfect bucking horse, because he loves what he does and he’s excited when it’s time to buck,” said Pete Carr, owner of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo. “He ready when he gets to the chute, and he stands there until the gate opens; then he has a big leap in the air and bucks hard every time.
“When the whistle blows, he lines out with the pickup man and allows the guys to get off without any problem. He’s the kind of horse all the bareback riders want to draw, because they know that as long as they don’t stub their toe, they’re going to win.”
Ask any bareback rider, they agree with Carr. Over the past three years, bareback riders have selected the 10-year-old as one of the top three horses in the game. This year should mark the sixth straight year the powerful and athletic gelding performs at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale that takes place in Las Vegas each December.
“I’ve been on big horses that look big and feel big,” said Richmond Champion, who rode Dirty Jacket for 91 points to win the championship at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days. “He has a huge frame, but he’s so athletic from nose to tail. He just looks like an athlete. If you could pick a horse out of a herd that could jump nine feet in the air, he’s that horse.
“If you’re going to win a big rodeo, that’s the horse you want.”
That’s true. In 2012, Dirty Jacket finished the season as the runner-up Reserve World Champion Bareback Horse. Last year, he was the Reserve World Champion. Can he be the No. 1 bareback horse in 2014?
“I think Dirty Jacket should’ve gotten the halter a long time ago,” Champion said of the Bareback Horse of the Year title. “I think he deserves one.”
Three pasture mates from the Pete Carr Pro Rodeo herd have earned that title: Real Deal, Big Tex and MGM Deuces Night. So far this year on Dirty Jacket, three-time world champion Kaycee Feild posted a 92.5-point ride on the big bay during the Fort Worth (Texas) Super Shootout; Champion was 91 in Cheyenne; Bill Tutor was 88 points in Lovington, N.M.; and Steven Dent won the final rodeo of the season with a 91-point ride in Stephenville, Texas.
“It’s an awesome feeling when you draw him, because he’s absolutely the one you want to draw,” said Tutor, of Huntsville, Texas, who has been on Dirty Jacket four times in his young career, winning in Claremore, Okla., and Stephenville, Texas, in 2013. “But you get worked up about it, and your heart’s pounding all week. I don’t want to mess up a horse that great.”
Not many do. In 2013, cowboys earned rodeo wins in 12 of 13 rodeos in which Dirty Jacket bucked. The scores in 2014 are proving he’s been better.
“When I saw the draw for the short round in Cheyenne, I knew I wanted him,” Champion said. “There were a bunch of good horses in the short round, but I wanted Dirty Jacket. When I found out I had him, there was no chance I was going to sleep good. I was super excited. When I got to the arena and got behind the bucking chutes, everybody was congratulating me on the draw. I was pretty nervous, because I didn’t want to waste the opportunity.”
He didn’t. In fact, he took in all the atmosphere of one of the biggest rodeos of the season.
“I wanted to take in every bit of that experience to get on him,” he said. “He looked healthy, probably the best I’d ever seen him was that day. Pete Carr and his crew do a phenomenal job taking care of their horses.
“I went and hung out with him for a while. That was probably the most excited I’ve ever been to get on a bareback horse that day. I was a kid in a candy store.”
He got his fix. Dirty Jacket burst out of the chute like no other horse had ever done. The images of that first move out of the chute were magic on social media.
“It felt like he wound himself up, and the next thing I know, I’m just looking vertical,” said Champion, whose only appearance on the photograph was his right boot. “I’ve never felt anything like that. From the rare out to about the fourth jump, it was just phenomenal. There are about two jumps I don’t remember happening. Once he lined out and was stacked up underneath me, that’s where I really started to have fun. I didn’t want the whistle to blow; I was having way too much fun.”
A lot of cowboys have had that experience over the last six years. They talk about tremendous athleticism. They talk about explosiveness. They talk about an animal’s love for what he does.
They talk about Dirty Jacket.