Crawford and Harrison tie for win with Dahozy and Zuniga Mud and freshies highlight true cowboys at Guymon
Long known as one of America’s most prestigious cowboy events, the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo happens every spring when cowboys typically are turning the page with a new partner and putting springtime troubles behind them as they impatiently await rodeo’s big summer run.
The Guymon tradition in early May of testing skilled ropers on hornless cattle in the enormous, historic Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena also typically involves wind and/or wet spring conditions. The steers have horns at Guymon these days, but are still never-been-touched fresh. Plus, as slack began for the rodeo’s 85th edition on May 5-7, the arena was pure slop.
As for the mud, “I love it,” said eighttime NFR header Charly Crawford, who with Joseph Harrison would tie for the average title and earn $3,389 apiece. “They do such a good job hauling in sand, and it’s muddy but not dangerous and not too hard on a horse. It just adds to the Guymon experience. They stick the barrier way out there, so you’re not coming over the chute at that rodeo— you’ve got to go be a cowboy like you’re going to go doctor one.”
In the first of three total rounds, Crawford and Harrison made a good 6.9-second run for money, then caught their second steer despite it stumbling in the mud just prior to Harrison’s throw. Knowing the steers would run even harder in the finals, Crawford switched from his wife’s horse, 9-year-old Sailor, to his new weapon, 10-year-old Nasty, because of his extra speed.
“Jackie started Sailor and she’s done such a good job—he’s so broke and scores so good; he’s guidable and easy on those setups where you want one broke,” said Crawford. “And Nasty is an old barrel horse that was actually trained by Joseph. He’s dirty fast.”
When Round Three rolled around, the arena was more wet sand than muddy soup.
“I was a little late on the last one and he went left and right,” Crawford said. “We didn’t make the fastest run, but went and roped him and made them beat us.”
Nobody, in fact, did beat their total time of 23.6 seconds on three—but it was
tied by Navajo standout Brooks Dahozy, 30, and his Texan heeler, Tommy Zuniga, 32. That pair also only notched one sixsecond run for money, and came away from Guymon with $4,208 per man.
Dahozy of Fort Defiance, Ariz., has been lauded for heading skills along the same levels as his Arizona buddies Begay, Rogers and Tsinigine. The 2009 Indian NFR champion cut his teeth rodeoing with Preston Williams. Zuniga, who lives in Centerville, Texas, with his wife and two children, has won plenty of other big rodeos, including Reno.
The other names dotting the Guymon leaderboard gave fans an interesting glimpse at some family ties. In addition to brothers-in-law Jimmy Tanner and Jim Ross Cooper placing in the average, the Egusquiza brothers each earned a check with their respective partners, while money also went to Jhett and Kellan Johnson, Wade and Kyon Kreutzer, and Matt Zancanella and JR Dees.
After a 2016 season in which many of the PRCA’s best weren’t allowed to buy memberships, the world standings looked a touch unorthodox by the time Guymon rolled around, seven months into the season. Crawford hadn’t even sniffed the top 40 in the world, while teams with names like Corkill, Minor and Brazile were well outside the top 15.
“I’ve dropped the ball in some places I usually don’t drop balls,” Crawford said. “I’m usually pretty good at longer averages and longer scores, although I do have greener horses this season. I missed our second one at Denver; Joseph lost his rope in the short round at Tucson; I missed our second one at Logandale. We’ve gotten a lot of checks
but we’ve dropped a lot of balls, so it was fun to put it all together at Guymon.”
Harrison first caught Crawford’s attention while he was roping with Charly’s wife, Jackie, in #15 ropings.
“They’d win everywhere,” Crawford said. “Man, and last year when I was home I’d see him at the UPRA rodeos just dominating. I was watching how good he rode and how good his horses were, and he was real instinctive about how fast he threw. Plus, he’s one of those guys you can’t get down. He can miss 10 in a row and on the 11th one he’ll say, ‘Man, Chuck, I think we got ’em now.’ He’s ready to turn it around at all times.”
Crawford would love to take Harrison all the way to Las Vegas this season, so they’ll be on the road with the NFR in mind. In the meantime, Charly and Jackie, a Women’s Professional Rodeo Association world champion roper, have teamed up in every way from streamlining all their sponsors to hosting jackpots at the house, breeding some rope horses to train, and teaching clinics.
Guymon marked Charly’s first competition as a new father to Creed Crawford, who was born on April 20. The baby’s arrival two weeks before the due date necessitated his dad turning out at Red Bluff (a friend sent a private plane for him), and Clovis. Charly was relieved, he said, that Harrison was such a good sport about it.
The Guymon win was especially sweet for Harrison, who grew up in Oklahoma and has been going to that rodeo for decades. He hails from Overbrook, Okla., where his career has been a mixture of competing at jackpots and rodeos around home while training and showing rope horses for Bobby Lewis Quarter Horses.
The win at Guymon earned Harrison a first trophy belt (it was Crawford’s second), and propelled him to first place in the Prairie Circuit heeling standings. Harrison and Crawford planned to spend time after Guymon practicing their fast game at some Texas one-headers to prepare for the summer run.