Dirty Jacket shines in Pecos

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PECOS, Texas – Over the course of its history, the West of the Pecos Rodeo has had dozens of world champions claim the crown.

Dirty Jacket ranks right up there with all of them, and he has a legacy of shining the brightest in Reeves County. Six times in his lifetime, the powerful bay gelding from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo has guided cowboys to the title in this west Texas community.

It’s the standard of excellence fans have come to expect with the “World’s First Rodeo,” set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 26-Saturday, June 29. He’s one of many great animals that have graced the Buck Jackson Arena dirt over the last 141 years, and he’s a champion’s dream.

Some of the greatest cowboys have found amazing success on the back of the two-time PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year. Dirty Jacket won those titles in 2014-15, but he was making a name for himself long before that. He first bucked at the National Finals Rodeo in 2009, when he was just 5 years old. In 2012, bareback riders selected him as the third best bucker in ProRodeo. The next year, he was the reserve world champion bareback horse.

Meanwhile, he was setting a standard in Pecos. Taylor Price was the first to win in 2013, scoring 88.5 points to do so. Two years later, Ryan Gray set the arena record with a 92-point ride, while Jamie Howlett was 88.5 to win in 2017.

Kaycee Feild, the winningest cowboy ever in the event with six bareback riding world championships, scored 91.5 points to win Pecos in 2021. A year later, Jess Pope posted an 89-point ride inside the legendary arena on his way to his first world title.

“That was my first time on him,” Pope said. “I was actually starting to get kind of worried about if I’d ever get on him; he’s getting up there in age. I didn’t know if I’d get on him before he retired.”

Dirty Jacket is 20 years old and has been switched between bareback riding and saddle bronc riding over the years. He performed at the NFR 12 times in his career and helped cowboys to go-round titles.

“He’s always been that good,” said Pope, a four-time NFR qualifier who won the aggregate at ProRodeo’s grand finale three straight years from 2000-2022. “That horse has a lot of try and a lot of heart; he is a special horse. Not many horses can be hauled like he has been and still do what he does at his age.

“He’s got the biggest heart you’ll ever really see in a horse.”

The honors keep rolling in for Dirty Jacket. Two months ago, the horse by legendary sire Night Jacket was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame alongside Pete Carr, who purchased Dirty Jacket as a colt from the Zinser Ranch in Michigan. Since he first bucked in May 2008, cowboys have scored 90 points or better often.

“He’s like a ticking time bomb,” said saddle bronc rider Rusty Wright, a five-time NFR qualifier who won Eagle, Colorado, in 2019. “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.”

Rodeo fans in west Texas know what it means to see amazing world champions at the West of the Pecos Rodeo, and they’ve been able to witness one of the best equine stars rodeo has ever seen when Dirty Jacket performed.


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