PECOS, Texas – One of the greatest all-around hands in ProRodeo has never won the gold buckle worn by world champions.
That’s OK for Paul Peterson, a member of the Carr Pro Rodeo team and pickup man who will be on hand inside Buck Jackson Arena during all four performances of the West of the Pecos Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 22-Saturday, June 25.
“Paul might be the greatest all-around cowboy in the PRCA when you look at the whole package from inside the arena and out,” said Pete Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm that is producing the West of the Pecos Rodeo. “I think he actually competed in five or six events in college. He’s definitely the best I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
“He’s just been very successful and consistent at every level of rodeo throughout his career. Whether he was competing, flanking, working cattle, filling in as part-time veterinarian or picking up some of the biggest rodeos in the PRCA, including working the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three times. Between Paul and Guy Allen, they are much more than pickup men when it comes to putting on our rodeos. They are an integral part of our team; they know what it takes and when things need to happen to get the job done.”
Yes, that Guy Allen, owner of 18 steer roping world championships and one of the handiest men with a rope in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
“The great thing about Guy is that he pays a lot of attention to what’s gong on, and he really wants to do a good job all of the time,” Peterson said.
Peterson and Allen work together several times a year, and in Pecos, they’ll be joined by veteran pickup man Shandon Stalls. It’s a way for some of the most talented men in the sport to make the rodeo click; more importantly, it serves a valuable purpose in corralling the animals in such a large arena.
“In that ‘pasture’ there, you can’t be late,” Peterson said, noting the tremendous size of Buck Jackson Arena. “You’ve got to anticipate where the animals are going. It helps that I know most of Pete’s horses, so I know the patterns most of them will have when they buck.”
The work the Carr crew has done in the arena has been noticed by those close to the rodeo.
“I was a brand new president, and he Pete asked me about the one thing we needed to do to make our rodeo better,” said Joe Keese, president of the volunteer committee that produces the 129th annual rodeo. “We have an arena that is bigger than most states, and our rodeo was running three hours or longer because we spend so much time trying to get the animals out of the arena after they buck.
“Now we don’t play chase nearly as much as we did in the past. With Pete’s staff and the professional way they produce our rodeo, we can do an entire rodeo in an hour and a half to two hours. That’s the value of the pickup men in an arena our size.”
It’s an attribute of being good cowboys, where hard work is mandatory and understanding livestock is a necessity.
“We’ve tried it with four pickup men there, and that’s too many,” Peterson said. “We use usually just three, and the guys we always have there are guys you don’t have to worry about.
“You want to get the best guys you can get in there, because one little screw up, and you’re busy chasing horses all over that pasture. It doesn’t take very many trips to the back end of that son of a buck before you’re out of a horse.”
Peterson’s professionalism is easily recognized, and the contestants have seen his expertise on a regular basis. Peterson takes great pride in being selected as an NFR pickup man, a post voted on by the top bareback and bronc riders who play the game.
“Paul is one of the greatest cowboys in rodeo, bar none,” said bareback rider D.V. Fennell, a two-time NFR qualifier from Porum, Okla. “That dude’s a hand, and you feel a lot more comfortable crawling over that bucking chute knowing he’s in the arena to take care of you.”
Raised in northeastern Oklahoma, cowboy has been in Peterson’s blood all his life. It’s what he used to excel through the competitive ranks of rodeo, which carried him to a scholarship at Panhandle State University. He finished as high as 16th in the world standings in saddle bronc riding, but only the top 15 qualify for ProRodeo’s championship.
Still, he’s used every lesson to his advantage, whether working on his place in the Texas Panhandle or being in position to help corral a feisty bull or bronc inside Buck Jackson Arena.
“You have to know how to read livestock, and you have to have good horses,” Peterson said. “Even for people that have that, unless they have somebody with them that is willing to work like a team, it’s not going to work very well. It is about teamwork in the arena.”
Success and failure in the world of rodeo is measured in seconds, and Peterson knows he needs to take advantage of every opportunity to make everything successful
“We’ve got a great crew working these rodeos, and that is one reason everything works so well,” he said. “The great thing about the Carr crew is that we work well together. Everybody’s got their job, and they know what they’re doing.”