Cow­boy Cred

Craw­ford and Har­ri­son tie for win with Da­hozy and Zu­niga Mud and freshies high­light true cow­boys at Guy­mon

Spin to Win Rodeo - - The X Fac­tor - By Julie Mankin Pho­tos by James Phifer

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.

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