GUYMON, Okla. – The first time Dirty Jacket ever bucked at a ProRodeo, he did so inside Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.
That was eight years ago, and Coloradoan Jared Schlagel won the bareback riding title on the colt that year. The Pete Carr Pro Rodeo bucking horse was just 4 years old, a dangly, lean spectacle that bucked, twisted and kicked for his half of the 87-point score. That’s like a pre-teen football player excelling at the NFL.
That was just the start of some phenomenal experiences for the talented bay, which led cowboys to the winners circle in Guymon for four straight years through 2011. He’s been named one of the top bareback horses in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association every year since, including the 2014 and ’15 Bareback Horse of the Year titles.
He is just one of the many great bucking beasts that will be part of the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8, at Hitch Arena.
“He’s just a great animal,” said Ryan Gray, an eight-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier whose 92 on Dirty Jacket last June in Pecos, Texas, was the highest-marked bareback ride all season. “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.”
Already this season, he has guided 2015 NFR qualifier Jake Brown of Hillsboro, Texas, to the third-round win at the RAM Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo in January with an 87-point ride. He then followed that a month later by helping three-time NFR qualifier Caleb Bennett of Tremonton, Utah, to 90.5 points to win the championship round in San Angelo, Texas.
“There’s not another horse like him,” said Richmond Champion of The Woodlands, Texas, who has won three times on the powerful bay. “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.”
Champion first rode the talented horse in 2014 at Cheyenne, Wyo., where his 91-point score in the final round catapulted the young cowboy to the championship and his eventual qualification to that season’s NFR. In Las Vegas that December, Champion scored 88 points on Dirty Jacket to win the fifth go-round; five nights later, Bennett was 86.5 points on him to win the 10th round. He followed that with a 90-point ride in Eagle, Colo., last July.
“It’s really neat to our committee that such a great bucking horse got his start at our rodeo,” said Jim Quimby, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces Pioneer Days Rodeo. “Dirty Jacket is a phenomenal athlete, and we have some outrageous stories to tell about him.”
One of those came in his second year in Guymon in 2009, when Dirty Jacket cleared the fence on the south end of the arena and made his way toward the parking lot.
“He wasn’t very old then, but he certainly was athletic,” Quimby said. “We were all amazed at that, and the fact that everyone – including Dirty Jacket – came out of that situation unscathed.”
His athleticism has continued to blossom over the years. When cowboys think about electric bucking horses, Dirty Jacket is the first one mentioned. He’s considerably different from that young bucking horse that made its debut in 2008.
But he’s still a winner.
“In my mind, Dirty Jacket is the right kind of bucking horse,” said Brown, who earned his round win on the horse in Waco, Texas. “He tries so hard every time.”
“That first jump out of there felt so awesome. He jumps so high. We’ve talked that he likes outdoor arenas better because he probably thinks he’s going to hit his head on an indoor arena because he wants to buck so high. He bucked pretty good at that building in Waco.”
As he’s proven quite often over the years, he likes Hitch Arena quite well, too. Every cowboy in the game hopes they have a chance to ride him there.