DALLAS – When Dirty Jacket walks into the bucking chutes, all eyes are upon him.
The talented Pete Carr Pro Rodeo horse is big and muscular, powerful and athletic. At 11 years old, the bay gelding knows why he’s there, and he’s ready to perform. He’s the greatest bucking horse in ProRodeo, and everybody in the place is ready to watch him.
Dirty Jacket is the Bareback Horse of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for the second straight season. He is joined by Carr’s Half Nutz, which was voted as the reserve runner-up Bull of the Year.
“There’s not another horse like him,” said Richmond Champion, a 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who has scored three victories on the bucking horse over the last 16 months; he was 91 points to win the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days and 88.5 points to win the fifth NFR round a season ago, then followed that with a 90-point ride to win Eagle, Colo., this past July.
“The only bad thing is when you get the whistle, you don’t want to stop.”
Champion is not the only bareback rider who thinks that way. They have voted Dirty Jacket as one of the top three bucking horses each of the past four years: He finished third in the 2012 voting and was second in ’13.
Over his career, Dirty Jacket has led dozens of cowboys to victories, including five big titles in the past year. In addition to Champion’s Round 5 win, Dirty Jacket also was the driving force for Caleb Bennett’s victory in the 10th round of the 2014 NFR.
Jessy Davis had the highest marked ride on the talented gelding in February, when he posted a 93 in the San Angelo (Texas) Cinch Shootout. Winn Ratliff followed with a 90-point ride to share the title in Weatherford, Texas, in mid-June, and Ryan Gray spurred Dirty Jacket for 92 points two weeks later in Pecos, Texas; Gray’s ride is the highest-marked bareback ride during the 2015 regular season.
“He’s just a great animal,” said Gray, an eight-time NFR qualifier. “You can guarantee he’s going to perform at his best every time. He’s going to give you a chance to win first; that’s the neat thing about that horse.”
Dirty Jacket will make his seventh straight appearance at the NFR during the 2015 championship, set for Dec. 2-13 in Las Vegas. Since he first bucked inside the Thomas & Mack Center in 2009, he has been featured in the fifth and 10th go-rounds, which are recognized for having the most electric and amazing bucking stock of ProRodeo’s championship event.
“Dirty Jacket is a bareback rider’s dream,” Ratliff said. “He has a lot of timing when he bucks; when a horse has a lot of timing, it’s easy for us to get in rhythm with him and be flashy. You get to show what the style of bareback riding is all about, and you get to show out.
“He has to love it, and Pete’s not afraid to buck him. If a contractor’s not afraid to buck a horse, it tells a lot about the character of the horse. He’s always a phenomenal horse.”
It takes something special for an animal to continue to perform at a high level. Take Half Nutz, a 5-year-old black, white-faced bull that was named one of the top three in ProRodeo based on votes by the bull riders.
Over the course of his career, Half Nutz has been ridden just one time, but that was one of the top-marked rides of 2015. Scottie Knapp matched moves with the talented bull for 93 points to win the West of the Pecos (Texas) Rodeo in late June. Half Nutz will perform at the NFR for the second straight year.
“He’s definitely a round-winner and the real deal,” Knapp said. “If I had one to pick, that’d be the one.
“Even after I rode him, he’s still a bucker. That’s where you find your true bucking bulls, the ones that keep bucking that well even after they’ve been rode. That’s what we’re looking for if you want to win.”
Half Nutz is one of several top bulls that are part of the Carr herd. In fact, he will be among 22 Carr animals performing at the 2015 NFR, the highest number of NFR bucking stock among all PRCA stock contractors.
“I love Pete’s pen of bulls,” Knapp said. “When I go to his rodeos, I know 95 percent of the time I’ve drawn something to win on. He’s always got a solid pen of bulls. His pen always seems to be even, top-of-the-line buckers. You know when you go to his rodeos, if you ride you know you’re fixing to get a big check.”