EAGLE, Colo. – The hardest part of Rusty Wright’s ride Saturday night was the anticipation.
Wright, a three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier from the first family of saddle bronc riding, was matched with Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket, a two-time Bareback Horse of the Year now bucking under a bronc saddle. The result was an Eagle County Fair and Rodeo arena-record 91-point ride.
“I was more nervous than I was excited, because when you draw those kinds of horses, you’re expected to win on them,” said Wright, 23, of Milford, Utah. “You put a little pressure on yourself, because I thought I should win on him.”
He learned about his draw late last week, and he was “pumped up” to know he had a chance to ride one of the most electric bucking horses in the game the last decade. When the 15-year-old bay gelding was a bareback horse, he was regularly in the TV pen at the NFR – a nickname dubbed for the fifth- and 10th-round horses because they are considered the best.
He may be in the same pen in bronc riding this coming December.
“I couldn’t wait for it,” said Wright, who travels with his younger brothers, Ryder, the 2017 world champion; and Stetson, the No. 1 man in the all-around race who is just a PRCA rookie; and their uncle, Spencer, the 2014 world champ. “It felt like waiting on Christmas, like it was never going to come. I woke up this morning, and I had butterflies as soon as my eyes opened.”
Ryder Wright finished second in Eagle with an 85-point ride on Carr’s Daisy Duke, and Spencer Wright placed fifth with an 80.5-point ride on Northcott-Macza’s Moving Shadows. Ryder Wright will add to his saddle bronc world standings lead, which is already more than $180,000 this season.
Rusty Wright was ninth in the standings heading into this week, but the $3,079 he earned in Eagle will help.
“I’m really happy with my year,” he said. “I’m not up there in the standings where I want to be, but I’m really pleased with how I’m riding. I’ve been nickel-and-diming them, as my dad says, but winning is winning. Hopefully this will be the hot streak I’ve been waiting on all year to get the ball rolling.”
A year ago, Ryder and Spencer won the Eagle rodeo, so it’s been an important stop for the family, which boasts of five world champions in the family. Ryder is the only one of his generation, while his father, Cody, has two and uncles Spencer and Jesse each have one.
“It seems we come to Eagle every year,” Rusty Wright said. “I love coming here. Pete’s got awesome horses. It doesn’t matter what day you’re coming, you know you’re going to get a good one; it’s just up to how well your ride to see if you’re going to get some money.
“The fans are loud. I got off today, and the fans were cheering so loud, I couldn’t help but throw my hat.”
Of course, he joins of chorus of other cowboys singing the praises of the talented gelding. In addition to having been named a two-time world champion in 2014-15, Dirty Jacket also finished second in the 2013 voting and third in the 2012 voting.
“He’s like a ticking time bomb,” Wright said. “As soon as the gate opens, he explodes out of there. He’s a big, strong, solid horse, and you could feel his whole body just blow up out of there. He was showy and electric. Horses like that get you excited. Every single jump, you feed off the last jump; you just try to ride them better.
“He’s now one of my favorite horses. I hope I draw him again, because there were a couple things I could do better, where I could have been two or three more points if I’d done everything perfect. That’s what we’re all after is that perfect ride, and the day you make that perfect ride, you should be done, because you’re never going to do it again.”
Saturday’s ride also marked the second-highest score Wright has ever posted; he was 92 points a few weeks ago at the Calgary (Alberta) Stampede. That rodeo, however, doesn’t count toward the ProRodeo world standings.
“As far as the PRCA goes, that’s my career best. I knew I could be at least 90 on this horse; it was up to me to ride him good. Next time I draw him, I’ll try to do those things better and maybe be 92 or 93.”
Eagle County Fair and Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Steven Dent, 89 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s San Angelo Sam, $2,800; 2. Tanner Aus, 85, $2,147; 3. Tim Murphy, 83, $1,587; 4. (tie) Clayton Biglow, Logan Patterson, Jamie Howlett and Luke Wozney, 82, $630 each; 8 Cole Reiner, 81, $280.
Steer wrestling: First round: 1. Gage Greer, 3.9 seconds, $927; 2. (tie) Kalane Anders and Chisum Docheff, 4.3, $687 each; 4. Austin Eller, 4.5, $447; 5. Payden McIntyre, 4.6, $288; 6. Aaron Vosler, 4.7, $160. Second round leaders: 1. Kalane Anders, 4.1 seconds, $926; 2. (tie) Chisum Docheff and Cody Pratt, 4.4, $687 each; 4. (tie) Gage Hesse, Logan McDonald and Austin Eller, 4.7, $298 each. Average leaders: 1. Kalane Anders, 8.4 seconds on two runs, $1,390; 2. Chisum Docheff, 8.7, $1,151; 3. Austin Eller, 9.2, $911; 4. Gage Greer, 9.4, $671; 5. (tie) Cody Pratt, 9.6, $336 each.
Tie-down roping: First round: 1. Darnell Johnson, 8.4 seconds, $1,021; 2. Garret Arnold, 9.1, $765; 3. Brandon Kammerzell, 9.5, $510; 4. Jarrett Oestmann, 10.0, $255. Second round: 1. Garret Arnold, 8.1 seconds, $1,021; 2. Jarrett Oestmann, 8.6, $755; 3. (tie) Kyle Dickens and Ryle Smith, 8.9, $383 each. Average: 1. Garret Arnold, 17.2 seconds on two runs, $1,531; 2. Jarrett Oestmann, 18.6, $1,148; 3. Tyler Boxleitner, $765; 4. Ryle Smith, 22.0, $383.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Rusty Wright, 91 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Dirty Jacket, $3,079; 2. Ryder Wright, 85, $2,360; 3. Jacobs Crawley, 84.5, $1,745; 4. Garrett Buckley, 82, $1,129; 5. Spencer Wright, 80.5, $719; 6. (tie) Tanner Butner, Jesse Kruse and Kobyn Williams, 79.5, $411 each.
Team roping: First round: 1. Corey Whinnery/Robert Murphy, 5.7 seconds, $999; 2. Jesse Sheffield/Derek Pake Younger, 5.8, $749; 3. (tie) Brit Ellerman/Trey Johnson and Clay Norell/Hank Bounds, 5.9, $375 each. Second round: 1. (tie) Corey Whinnery/Robert Murphy and Brit Ellerman/Trey Johnson, 5.5, $874 each; 3. Jace Staudt/Clancey Kreutzer, 7.0, $500; 4. Jess Sheffield/Derek Pake Younger, $250. Average: 1. Corey Whinnery/Robert Murphy, 12.2 seconds on two runs; 2. Brit Ellerman/Trey Johnson, 12.4, $1,123; 3. Jase Staudt/Clancey Kreutzer, 13.4, $749; 4. Jesse Sheffield/Derek Pake Younger, 17.9, $375.
Barrel racing: 1. Sara Cheeney, 17.35 seconds, $2,013; 2. Ivy Conrado, 17.45, $1,711 ; 3. Leia Pluemer, 17.52, $1,409; 4. Ryann Pedone, 17.58, $1,208; 5. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 17.64, $1,007; 6. Caroline Kelly, 17.76, $705; 7. MacKenzie Scott, 17.80, $503; 8. (tie) Chris Gibson and Emily Hamrick, 17.81, $378; 10. Marley Hammer, 17.82, $302; 11. Brittney Barnett, 17.84, $252; 12. Sally Conway, 17.94, $201.
Bull riding: 1. Trevor Reiste, 86.5 points on Lancaster & Jones Pro Rodeo’s Smokey, $3,777; 2. (tie) Eli Vastbinder and Ruger Piva, 85, $2,611; 4. (tie) Nic Lica and Koby Radley, 77, $1,329 each; no other qualified rides.