BIG SPRING, Texas – Rodeo is a tough sport, an even tougher profession.
The only way for cowboys and cowgirls to earn their pay is to beat most of the others in each competition. Even for the best in the business, it’s a daunting task. For roughstock cowboys, those who ride bucking animals, it means a variety of things, from staying on the qualifying eight seconds to performing well to having the animal perform well, too.
The reality is that the cowboys just want an opportunity to show their stuff. That’s what they’ll get at the 79th Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo, set this year for 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, June 21-23, because Pete Carr and his crew at Carr Pro Rodeo work hard to make it happen.
“Pete’s got an eye for good horses and is always trying to make his stock better,” said saddle bronc Isaac Diaz, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Desdemona, Texas. “Pete’s constantly worried about whether we’re happy, which is good. There are a lot of contractors out there who could care less if we’re happy.
“Pete’s the opposite. He does what he can to keep us happy.”
That’s one of the reasons Diaz and other elite bronc riders are making plans to be in Big Spring.
“You definitely want to go somewhere that you have a chance to win,” said Casey Sisk of Corona, N.M. “Pete’s got a great pen of bucking horses, the kind you like getting on.”
That pen is continually developing, whether it’s another great bucker that Carr acquired or one of young colts from the Carr Pro Rodeo breeding program. Cowboys know the chance to win money is key, whether it’s at one of the largest rodeos in the country or at a smaller setting like Big Spring.
“At most of the smaller rodeos we go to, you don’t have a chance to draw good,” Diaz said. “At least at Pete’s rodeos, you know you have a good shot of getting on something you can win on. Then it’s just up to you to ride well enough to do it.”
The key ingredient is having the opportunity. Cowboys travel tens of thousands of miles a year for a chance at winning. Bronc riders also take a shot at getting on great horses.
“Pete Carr’s got some great rodeos, and he’s got the good horses,” said Cody Taton of Mud Butte, S.D., who won the average title at the 2008 NFR. “That kind of combination makes quite a difference, plus Pete’s good to work with.”
That’s part of what is drawing cowboys to Big Spring. The same weekend features events like the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo, which offers a large purse. But cowboys can venture off the big-rodeo path to historic community rodeos like the one in Howard County, Texas.
“Even if you’re going to hit all those big rodeos, you need rodeos like that along the way,” Diaz said. “At those big ones, it’s either you win and win big or you don’t win anything at all. You need the smaller ones along the way, where a guy can get a little check here and there. That’s who those smaller rodeos are just as important as the big ones.”
A year ago, Sam Spreadborough of Snyder, Texas, won the Big Spring rodeo with an 86-point ride on Carr’s Blue Spy, helping him to a $1,159 payday and a second straight NFR qualification. Though he didn’t earn his ticket to Las Vegas, Sisk earned $869 for finishing second on Smoke Wagon.
“I like going to Pete Carr rodeos because I know I have a chance to win money,” Sisk said.