LAS VEGAS – The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is a showcase of tremendous athletic talent over a rigorous 10 days of competition in the Nevada desert.
It’s the playing ground for 119 elite contestants who make their living on the ProRodeo trail, the year-end event that is a true test of a champion. The Thomas & Mack Center on the University of Nevada-Las Vegas campus also is home some of the greatest animals in the sport.
That’s where Carr Pro Rodeo comes into play, with 12 animal athletes that have been selected by the cowboys to be part of ProRodeo’s championship event. Pete Carr and his crew have been recognized as having many of the best bucking beasts in the sport, and they’ll be represented well in Las Vegas.
“Pete Carr’s got some great rodeos, and he’s got the good horses,” said Cody Taton, the saddle bronc riding director for the PRCA and 2008 NFR average champion from Mud Butte, S.D. “That kind of combination makes quite a difference, plus Pete’s good to work with.”
The Dallas-based livestock contractor will have three saddle broncs in the mix, Miss Congeniality, Empty Pockets and Coffee Bean. These are just some of the horses the world’s best bronc riders said they wanted at the NFR.
“Miss Congeniality has been to the Canadian finals, too,” Taton said of the 9-year-old bay mare. “That was a pretty nice horse form Pete’s that I had. I’d been on it once before, and I won Grand Prairie, Alberta, on it. I’d love to draw that horse at all of Pete’s rodeos.”
Several other cowboys would, too.
“This horse had a very good year, so it’s no shock to me they selected her to the finals again. They won first and second on her in Lovington this year,” Carr said. “She might be one of the most rider-friendly horses we own in the arena, but don’t get in front of her in the back pens because she will smoke you.”
Coffee Bean is a 17-year-old bay mare that is making her third trip to Sin City, but she’s a veteran in the game. Empty Pockets a 7-year-old bay gelding that has proven himself over the course of this season.
“He is still a little nervous in there, but he kicks the lights out every jump,” Carr said. “He’s been cut, hauled and now headed to Vegas this year. That’s throwing one into the grease; we will see how he handles everything pretty quick.”
Carr knows how to make his animals perform at their best, and that’s one of the reasons several of his great animals get the chance to perform in Las Vegas.
“Any bucking horse you know you have a chance to win on is one you want to get on,” said Jesse James Kirby of Dodge City, Kan. “That’s what you have when you go to a Carr rodeo. I think Pete Carr is doing a damn good job of supplying a bunch of really good bucking horses.
“Pete’s got some buckers and some young horses that he’s trying to bring up in his program. I think he’s got a well-rounded pen of horses, and everybody loves to get on them.”
Whether they’re world champions or cowboys just trying to make ends meet on the rodeo trail, cowboys know there’s a benefit to riding at a Carr-produced event.
“You can go down the list of any horse Pete has, and you’re going to look at the kinds of horses you want to get on every time,” said Taos Muncy, the 2007 world champion and top-ranked bronc rider heading into the finals. “You look forward to going to his rodeos, because he will have NFR horses in every performance.”
It’s not just the bucking horses that are getting noticed by cowboys. Bull riders have seen the growth and development in the Carr bull herd, particularly in Time Out, a 4-year-old Carr purchased this year from bull rider Cooper Kanngiesser, who qualified for the NFR in 2006.
“Pete needed some good bulls at the time,” said Kanngiesser, of Zenda, Kan. “In years past, I haven’t kept very many bulls past 3 (years of age), so I put a package deal together.
“As far as him being selected to the NFR, I thought he deserved it. It made me feel good, because there were people who kept telling me he was just a bull, but I knew he had more to him. I had one producer who bought him twice and had me buy him back because he didn’t think that bull had anything in it. I sold him to Pete Carr, who knew what to do with him, and the bull makes the NFR in his first year. It’s bittersweet for me.”
Maybe it’s the care the animals are given on the ranch near Athens, Texas, or the way Carr works them to perform at their best, but cowboys have taken notice.
“Pete Carr, in general, is a great stock contractor,” said bull rider D.J. Domangue, a three-time NFR qualifier from Wharton, Texas. “He spends a lot of money and tries real hard to try to improve his stock. He’s already got great horses, and he is trying to put together a good pen of bulls.
“Plus he’s a great guy, and that’s hard to come by when you’re talking about stock contractors in rodeo. He listens to the cowboys. He wants to know what we think, and he wants our opinions. He wants to get the top guys.”
That means a lot to Carr.
“I take a lot of pride in having the kind of animals the cowboys want to get on,” Carr said. “The fans come to see a good rodeo, and I think having good animals to get on gives us a better opportunity to draw the best cowboys in the world when they have a choice on which rodeos to enter. Together that makes it a great experience for the paying customers.
“We will keep striving to improve our herds every year because we want to attract the best cowboys to come to these rodeos.”