Cal­i­for­nia’s Justin Davis is plan­ning a come­back in 2015 with a team of small-statured mounts.

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Stop The Clock -

Justin Davis has laid low the last few years—he’s been rodeo­ing, but he hasn’t quite amassed any big-time earn­ings num­bers. The 2009 WNFR qual­i­fy­ing heeler has won four Columbia River Cir­cuit Fi­nals, but he hasn’t had a part­ner that’s quite clicked to make it big.

What he has done over the last few years, though, is refne


Flash­back to 2006: Davis had just pulled in from an all-night drive home from the win­ter rodeos in Texas. He’d parked his truck in his fam­ily’s drive­way in Cal­i­for­nia at about 4 a.m. At 8 a.m., his brother-in-law woke him from a deep sleep to see if he wanted to go try a heel horse with him.

“He goes and tries him, and the horse was Slim Shady,” Davis said. “He went to try him and could tell he could re­ally run. He would drop his shoul­der and be real free and when he’d throw he’d drag his butt and slide 10 feet. Ken Cook owned him and the horse is way too much for him. They wanted $20,000 for him, but my brother-in-law thought he was six months away from be­ing ready, so I tried him, and I traded a heel horse that was just kind of a horse straight across for him.”

Right af­ter Davis bought Slim Shady, Cal­i­for­nia’s spring rains started, and Davis headed to Broc Cresta’s in­door arena to run some steers on the 14.1hand geld­ing.

“(Horse trainer) Craig Fehlman was there help­ing Broc and me with our heel­ing,” Davis ex­plained. “Slim wanted to re­ally be strong and drop his shoul­der in the cor­ner. Craig had me put a stout bit in his mouth that had a lot of flex in it. As soon as the head rope would go on, I would not turn in on one steer. I prob­a­bly did it 12 times, just hold­ing him out and not let­ting him turn in. The next day, I did it on his horse­power to set him up for big things in 2015. The Cot­ton­wood, Calif., heeler is hit­ting the road with three-time WNFR header Bran­don Beers this year, and he’s got two tiny horses— Slim Shady and Shakira (both named af­ter the mu­si­cians)—with the speed to keep up with Beers’ two greats, Tevo and Jewel. ( Check out sto­ries on both of them at spin­tow­in­ the frst one, but then on the next one, I would throw as fast as I can. By the third day, he was free but he’d stay lifted and he was made. It’s like he’s float­ing. He stays lifted the whole way.”

And af­ter that, there was no look­ing back for Davis. His frst rodeo with Slim Shady would also be his frst rodeo rop­ing be­hind 1977 World Cham­pion Header David Motes.

“My ca­reer has been that horse. I got him when I was 18 and was rop­ing with Dave Motes in 2006, my rookie year. He’s more ex­treme—he re­ally runs hard and will not run by the cor­ner and will make a dras­tic move. He’ll lay on his belly, do some­thing crazy to get in there. He’s been great and he’s tougher than nails. He’s torn his deep flexor on both front feet. He even won re­serve AQHA/PRCA Heel Horse in 2009 with a torn deep flexor and I didn’t even know it. I rode him at the NFR, then found out he’d had three slits in his front deep flexor and he never had gone off re­ally.”


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