EAGLE, Colo. – Much has changed in the world of rodeo since Paul Peterson first saddled a horse and stepped on.
As the world evolves and time passes, the Western lifestyle follows suit. Every July, he’s been a fixture as a pickup man in Eagle. In fact, he was one of very best at his job and has been recognized as such in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
His role is changing, though; now he’s the main flankman for Carr Pro Rodeo, the primary stock contractor for the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 25-Saturday, July 28.
“Everything’s for the better,” Peterson said. “I really enjoy it.”
Pete Carr has served as the flankman for several years, but as owner of the Dallas-based livestock firm, Carr has numerous other responsibilities that need his attention. Therefore, having a veteran like Peterson handling the flanking responsibilities is a benefit to the operation.
“Paul has been a valuable part of our team since our first rodeo,” Carr said. “Paul is one of the most versatile guys you’ll ever meet, and in rodeo, he can do just about everything. He knows these animals, and that plays a lot into what he’s done with us from the very beginning.
“I want to surround myself with the best people possible, and that’s what I get with Paul.”
How important is it to understand the animal athletes?
“Every horse is going to take a different kind of flank,” Peterson said. “Those older horses, the ones that have been around a long time, they need a little bit more of a flank, but the colts will need less. You’ve got to figure out what’s going to be the best flank for each of the animals to perform at their best. You can ruin the horse or get him to the NFR.”
Peterson knows a little bit about that. As an all-around cowboy competing in the PRCA, he just missed qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo a few times in saddle bronc riding. As a pickup man, he was chosen by the bareback riders and bronc riders to work the NFR three times. Whatever he’s done, he’s excelled. That means he’ll take to the task of flankman with the same gusto.
“You’ve just got to know the animals,” Peterson said. “I think I’ve watched most of Pete’s horses a long time, so I know what they need and when to be at the top of their game. So far it’s worked.
“You take into consideration where the horse come from and what they’ve done to him in the past and if you’ve raised him. It helps to know a lot about what their mom is and what she was like; a lot of time they’re going to be just like her.”
The NFR is an annual showcase of the very best in ProRodeo, from the top 15 contestants in each event and discipline to the best personnel. John and Sandy Gwatney have worked the NFR for several years and are a big part of Carr Pro Rodeo’s success. Bullfighters Chris Kirby and Clay Heger not only help protect fallen bull riders, but also they handle many of the behind-the-scenes tasks that go on at each rodeo, while Josh Edwards and Matt Scott will serve as pickup men.
“I think the key to any success we have had is the high caliber people that we are fortunate to work with everywhere we go,” Carr said. “You can have the best animals in the world, but you’re not going to be very good without great people on your team. I feel like I have those types of people on my team.”