PECOS, Texas – There are numerous things that define an athlete. From muscularity to the ability to perform maneuvers deemed magical, athletes come in a variety of forms.
Take Dirty Jacket. He’s 9 years old, and his muscles twitch with anticipation. In an instant, he can pivot 45 degrees and leap two feet into the air.
“There’s not another one like that horse,” said bareback rider Jared Keylon, a 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Uniontown, Kan. “Just the sheer ability to stand flat-footed and jump that high in the air is incredible. Just his athleticism alone is so impressive.”
The Carr Pro Rodeo bronc will be part of an exciting field of awesome athletes that will perform at the West of the Pecos Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 26-Saturday, June 29, at Buck Jackson Arena.
Keylon experienced Dirty Jacket’s force during the final round at the 2013 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, where he matched moves with the big bay gelding for 87 points to share the final-round win with four-time world champion Bobby Mote of Culver, Ore.
“That horse is as good an athlete as any cowboy going down the road,” Keylon said. “When I nodded my head, it felt like we leaped 10 feet off the ground.
“That was the coolest horse to mark out in the world, because he shoots straight up. The way he’s built, he almost cradles you, almost saddles you up under the rigging. He almost spurs himself with the way he bucks. It was awesome.”
Keylon isn’t the only man who feels that way. Dirty Jacket has bucked four straight years at the NFR, ProRodeo’s grand finale. In 2012, he was runner-up to the reserve world champion bareback horse and was recognized as the Texas Circuit’s Bareback Horse of the Year.
So far in 2013, he guided two other NFR qualifiers – Ryan Gray of Chaney, Ore., and J.R. Vezain of Cowley, Wyo. – to titles. Gray shared the final-round win in Fort Worth, Texas, with an 88-point ride, while Vezain posted an 88 to win the championship in San Antonio.
“I had always wanted to get on him, but I seemed to draw around him a lot of times,” Gray said, explaining the random draw that matches cowboys vs. livestock in rodeo. “I was pretty tickled to have him, especially in the short round at Fort Worth.
“He’s electric and explosive. He’s pretty rider-friendly, but he’s also fast and electric at the same time. He’s a pretty impressive horse. He’s just gotten stronger, which makes him even better now.”
Strong and athletic is exactly what bareback riders want in their dance partners. Vezain earned more than $17,000 in San Antonio, 64 percent of which came on the back of Dirty Jacket.
He had a great big rare out of the chute,” said Vezain, the 2012 Canadian Rodeo Cowboys association bareback riding champion. “He sent my feet, and everything got rolling from there. That is on the list of the top five bareback rides I have ever made.
“I knew I had a chance to be 90 points, and that’s the best feeling going into the short round. That was a true blessing to have that big bucking horse in the short round.”