Courtesy of WRCA
It was lucky 13 for Canyon, Texas, cowboy Rodey Wilson and his ranch team.
This year marked Wilson’s 13th qualification for the Working Ranch Cowboys Association’s World Championship Ranch Rodeo. His teammates have varied over the years, and in 2017, he was joined by several WCRR first-timers. But 13 was the lucky number, as the combined forces of Wilson Cattle and Haystack Cattle Co. nabbed the 2017 world championship.
It was Wilson’s third win, and “this means a lot,” he said.
Consistency – and speed – were the names of the game for Wilson-Haystack. The ranch team was one of only five to get a score or a time in every event in every performance. Their scores were high, and their times were low.
“I think we did the best in the (wild) cow milking,” Wilson said. The team won that event, clocking amazingly fast times of :40.76 and :29.28.
For those who haven’t seen it, the event calls for one cowboy on horseback to rope a full-grown (and usually irritated) cow that often outweighs the cowboy’s horse. With a loop around the cow’s neck, a ground crew of three cowboys then grab the rope, the cow’s head, her tail – whatever means necessary – to stop her and hold her still enough for a milker to squeeze some milk into a longneck Bud Light bottle. Though it seems a little wild and crazy, the event mimics what might happen on a ranch if a calf had to be bottle fed in an emergency.
Wilson was the horseback roper, and he was helped by Lightning Blue Jazz, a 13-year-old bay roan gelding that was named Reserve Top Horse at the championship rodeo. “Roscoe” is sired by Mecom Blue, who has more than $17,000 in National Cutting Horse Association earnings. His dam, Ol Lucy Brown, also has NCHA earnings.
Wilson gave credit to his other wild-cow-milking teammates, as well.
“We have a really good mugger (Mike Crump) and a decent cow milker (Tanner Allen),” Wilson said, grinning. Other Wilson-Haystack ranch team members were Clay Paige and Jed Middleton.
Allen wanted to give credit to Crump, the team’s bronc rider, who held on for scores of 77 and 74, good enough to place fourth in the event and accrue some coveted points that went toward the world championship.
“He rode two dang good broncs,” Allen said.
For Allen, Paige and Crump, it was their first WCRR. They came in as newcomers and left as world champions.
“It was an awesome experience,” Paige said, but he admitted to some nerves. Once he was in the arena, doing what he knows how to do best, the butterflies went away. But beforehand?
“I had trouble getting here, I was so nervous,” he said.
Crump related to that feeling.
“It’s horrible,” he said of his nerves. “I could barely stand up the whole time.” When it’s noted that those nerves didn’t seem to affect their performances, Crump said, “I guess it just kind of clicked after a while.”
For all of the men, who rope and doctor cattle on a regular basis in their jobs as working ranch cowboys, it came together when it counted.
Roping and doctoring at home compared to the stray gathering event – where two sets of headers and heelers chase after and tie down yearlings – “is pretty much the exact same,” Paige said, except for one aspect that makes it a bit easier: “It’s in an arena and not in a pasture.”
The skills honed at home every day paid off.
“It’s a good opportunity for guys like us that ride horses and work all the time to bring the horses you’ve worked on to town and kind of show off what you’ve done and the horses you’ve made,” Allen said. “I think it’s awesome.”
This championship rodeo, besides being a showcase for the best working cowboys in the business, is also the signature fundraising event for the WRCA Foundation, which provides crisis assistance to working ranch cowboys and their families who have fallen victim to injury or illnesses, as well as scholarships to ranch kids who are heading to college.