As Fate Would Have It

The Story of Jaguar

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Competitive Edge - By Ken­dra San­tos

Some horses have a way of mak­ing the rounds. And if the lit­tle palomino peo­ple have been see­ing around Stephenville, Texas, here lately looks fa­mil­iar, there’s a sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion for that. Fi­esty Golden Hiney, who’s an­swered to Jag for sev­eral years now, is still just 12 years old. But his is a clas­sic cir­cle-of-life story in the mak­ing—with a team rop­ing twist.

The first and most piv­otal turn in this horse’s time­line hap­pened when his then-owner, Mis­souri’s Marc Fen­ton, brought him to four-time Champ of the World Allen Bach’s five-day, heel­ers-only rop­ing school at Allen’s house in Boyd, Texas. “The horse was com­ing in a lit­tle close, so I asked Marc if he wanted me to run a few on him,” Allen re­mem­bers. “The horse re­spected my reins and left leg, and just felt awe­some. He got a lit­tle close again a cou­ple days later, so I got on him again. I asked Marc (who’s a 5 Elite header and 6 heeler) if he would want to sell him. I’d only run four steers on him, but it was kind of like meet­ing that per­son you re­ally like right off the bat.

“It’s kind of amaz­ing where you ac­tu­ally find great horses. You’d never think that lit­er­ally right there in my back­yard some­one would bring in a horse that would fit me so well and be­come a su­per­star. Some­times the right one for you just falls in your lap, and it was just one of those no-brainer deals. Jag’s big and strong, and he’s the sweet­est darn horse ever.”

Allen bought the horse as an 8-year-old in 2013, and he’s who dubbed him Jaguar.

“I got on this lit­tle deal of re­lat­ing good horses to good cars,” Bach said. “Back when Paul Eaves lived at our house, I owned a re­ally good gray horse. I called him Cadil­lac. I sold him, then when he was for sale again en­cour­aged Paul to buy him. They made a great team, and that was Paul’s first big-time horse. I have a big, stout roan horse from Cal­i­for­nia now, and I named him Freight­liner. Ce­sar (de la Cruz) names his horses af­ter gun­fight­ers and out­laws. I name mine af­ter cars.”

When reign­ing World Cham­pion All-Around Cow­boy Ju­nior Nogueira was a lit­tle boy—9 years old, to be ex­act—he made a life­long con­nec­tion with Allen at a rop­ing school Bach taught with Charles Pogue in Brazil.

“Ten years later, I went back to Brazil and Ju­nior came to my school again,” Bach re­mem­bers well. “Then the next time I saw him was when (Allen and Peggy’s old­est son) Joel and I bud­died with Jake (Barnes) and Ju­nior in 2014.”

As that four-man, two-team buddy group criss-

crossed this coun­try coast to coast in search of rodeo’s holy land in Las Ve­gas, there were times Nogueira needed a ride. So he jumped on Jag.

“I only had one horse, so Allen let me ride him at a few rodeos,” Ju­nior said. “When I didn’t have my horse, I rode that one. He was very, very easy. He scores good, and is very hon­est. He just turns in like you need one to. He was good ev­ery time for me. Jag is just the kind of horse that works good for ev­ery­body.”

Ju­nior was just 5 when he lost his dad to a heart at­tack. Heel­ing for Jake, who with wife Toni housed, fed and helped the kid with his English, Ju­nior made his first (Wran­gler Na­tional) Fi­nals (Rodeo) that first full year out on the rodeo trail. When the 2014 Re­sis­tol Rookie Heeler of the Year, who calls Jake Dad, needed some­thing to ride in Ve­gas, Jag got the nod.

“My horse wasn’t good enough, and I knew that horse was good at the rodeos and very hon­est,” Ju­nior ex­plained of his de­ci­sion. “I knew him, and I felt com­fort­able on him.”

Jake and Ju­nior placed in six of 10 rounds in Cow­boy Town, and fin­ished sec­ond in the av­er­age be­hind only that year’s NFR and world champs, Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill.

“I was happy I rode Jag,” Ju­nior said. “It was my first time, and I needed a solid horse to give me a shot ev­ery time. I was glad to ride him, be­cause he was very, very easy and wants to help you.”

En­ter Travis Graves, who next month will heel for Chad Mas­ters at his ninth NFR. TG bought Jag from Allen af­ter the 2014 NFR.

“I needed an­other horse to rodeo on, he scores re­ally good and doesn’t get tight,” Graves said. “He’s su­per easy to catch on, and he’s strong to the horn once you do dally. Jag’s one of the eas­i­est horses I’ve ever rid­den.”

TG owned Jag about a year, then sold him to his friend Rene Cer­vantes of Jal, N.M., who’s a No. 5 Elite header and a 7 Elite heeler. Af­ter about a year, when Cer­vantes found him­self with­out enough time to rope to jus­tify own­ing him, Graves bought Jag back this win­ter, in early 2017. TG sold Jag to an­other friend, Chad Townson, at the end of Au­gust, with the un­der­stand­ing that TG could ride him when he needs him.

“Chad’s a good friend of mine, and he re­ally, re­ally wanted him and it was a deal where I can still use him, so it works out per­fectly for both of us,” Graves said. “He gets to ride him at the rop­ings he goes to, and I can take him to the rodeos when I need him. I rode him a lot this sum­mer.

“I hated to see him go, but he went to a great

friend of mine and has a great home. Chad loves Jag, he takes great care of him, and I can use him any­time I want.”

Townson, 45, is a No. 6 header and 5 Elite heeler who lives in Stephenville, Texas, and mostly heels these days.

“He’s by far the eas­i­est, most hon­est, best heel horse I’ve ever rid­den,” Townson said of Jag, who’s a de­scen­dent of Gen­uine Doc, who made his mark in the cut­ting pen. “He’s not a good horse. He’s a great horse. And he fits me per­fectly. I tried him two dif­fer­ent times, and didn’t miss a steer from start to fin­ish.

“I bought an­other horse from Travis about a year ago, and he knew I was look­ing for a re­ally, re­ally good one. When he called me about Jag I was just be­side my­self that he would even sell him. The day Travis called to see if I was in­ter­ested, I ran into Ju­nior at Chili’s, and asked Ju­nior about him. He said, ‘Yeah, he’s a great horse.’”

Graves is an Oklahoma na­tive, and now has a place in Mor­gan Mill, Texas, which neigh­bors Stephenville. “I’ve seen this horse around since Ju­nior rode him at the Fi­nals the first time,” said Townson, who owns oil­field ser­vice com­pa­nies. “And I’ve watched Travis ride him the last few years.

“Some horses get al­most larger than life. They’re awe­some and ev­ery­body knows them. Jag’s just a great horse that’s been there and done that. He’s got a lot of his­tory, and he works as ad­ver­tised. The fame and his his­tory wouldn’t have meant any­thing to me had he not fit me. But he does. This is one of those spe­cial horses that fits just about ev­ery­body.”

Townson says he’ll save Jag for “the big­ger World Se­ries and USTRC rop­ings, where the money’s at. I won’t ride him at the lit­tle $40 jack­pots. I han­dle a lot of my busi­ness over the phone and by com­puter now, so I get to rope ev­ery day. A horse like Jag just makes it so much fun.

“And he’s so laid back. My 6-year-old son, Ace, rides him. When we got him home and un­loaded him the first time, I threw Ace on Jag bare­back with a hal­ter, and he trot­ted him around. He’s so gen­tle. When Ace is ready to start rop­ing live cat­tle, this horse is go­ing to be able to start him with his rop­ing. I’ve got­ten to where I won’t buy any horses un­less they’re good for me now and I think they’ll work for him in the next few years. Jag has the most laid-back, easy­go­ing per­son­al­ity.”

The horse didn’t change hands from Graves to Townson un­til sum­mer’s end, but that was not per the orig­i­nal game plan.

“Travis ac­tu­ally called to see if I was in­ter­ested in the horse when he was about to leave for the sum­mer,” Townson ex­plained. “He had a third horse he was go­ing to haul, so felt like he could sell Jag and still have enough horse­power. Then he sold that third horse. I had Jag loaded and my check­book out to pay for him. TG asked if I minded if he kept him for the sum­mer. So I un­loaded him. As soon as he felt like he could get by with­out him we made the trans­fer. They had a good sum­mer to­gether, so that was pretty cool. And the of­fer stands that he can come get him when he needs him.”

Ev­ery­body wins in ev­ery good busi­ness deal, and the story of Jag is no ex­cep­tion.

“In a per­son’s life­time, you might have a bunch of good ones,” Townson said. “But Jag is ex­cep­tional. Jag has al­ready im­proved my game five times over. He’s that good. He puts the feet in your lap for you. I told Travis the other day that I have so much con­fi­dence in Jag that I’m go­ing to put a rope around his neck, video a run and send it to him. That’s how great this horse is and how much he loves it. And he’s the same ev­ery sin­gle time.”

“I wish I still had Jaguar at my house,”

“Some horses get al­most larger than life. They’re awe­some and ev­ery­body knows them. Jag’s just a great horse that’s been there and done that. He’s got a lot of his­tory, and he works as ad­ver­tised.” – Chad Townson

said Bach, who plans to heel for Colby Lovell this win­ter. “He’s big and strong, he takes a jerk and doesn’t dread it. He pro­tects him­self by be­ing so balanced. You can ham­mer as many in a row as you want to and he’s still go­ing to give you the same shot. It’s re­ally pretty rare that rop­ers of all num­bers can ride the same horse. For a horse to be re­ally good for a guy who mostly ropes on week­ends to be­ing ev­ery­thing Ju­nior Nogueira needs at the NFR—that’s spe­cial. Jag is that horse. He’s amaz­ing.

“When I owned Jag, ev­ery­body every­where I went would say, ‘I love that yel­low horse you’re rid­ing.’ This horse has been so much fun for all of us along the way. When Ju­nior rode him at the NFR, Marc and I were tex­ting back and forth about our horse do­ing so good at the NFR. It was re­ally fun.”

Jag has an im­pres­sive high­lights reel, and at 12 he’s likely just get­ting warmed up. One of the horse’s most mem­o­rable mo­ments hap­pened at the 2014 Justin Boots Cham­pi­onships and Wran­gler Cham­pi­ons Chal­lenge in Omaha, Neb., with Bach on his back. Go­ing into those three late-Septem­ber days at that year’s reg­u­lar-sea­son fin­ish line, Ari­zona’s Tom Richards had noth­ing short of a Hail-Mary’s chance at qual­i­fy­ing for his first NFR.

Richards and de la Cruz won the two­day Justin Boots Cham­pi­onships, and since the team with the fast time each night moved on to Satur­day’s Cham­pi­ons Chal­lenge, their 4.6-sec­ond run on Thurs­day ad­vanced them and also meant $6,121 in much-needed money for Richards. Nick Sar­tain and Rich Skel­ton placed sec­ond at the Thurs­day-Fri­day Cham­pi­onships, but were al­ready qual­i­fied for the Cham­pi­ons Chal­lenge. Ce­sar was al­ready in also, as he and Der­rick Be­gay won Omaha in 2013, and back then the pre­vi­ous year’s rodeo win­ners qual­i­fied for the 2014 Cham­pi­ons Chal­lenge events. So Allen rolled up on the heel­ing side from a three-way split for third in that first rodeo to rope with Richards at the sec­ond one, right there on the third-straight night in Omaha.

The do-or-die stage was set rid­ing into Satur­day night’s Cham­pi­ons Chal­lenge. Tom and Allen had to win it for Richards to have a shot at mak­ing his first Fi­nals.

“Trevor (Brazile) and Pa­trick (Smith) were third or fourth out, and were 3.9,” Richards re­mem­bers well. “Allen and I had talked be­fore the rodeo, and I told him I had to win first to have a chance. I got a half head, Allen heeled him re­ally fast and we were 3.9 also. I re­ally didn’t know right then if split­ting it was go­ing to be good enough, but as it turned out we won about $5,500 and it moved me into 15th.”

What horse was Bach rid­ing at that magic mo­ment? You guessed it—Jag. A scene out in that Omaha park­ing lot that speaks to the war­rior’s heart that beats in Bach’s chest was Allen on Jag’s back, hav- ing his younger son, Tyler, pull rope away from him while he did some fun­da­men­tal dal­ly­ing drills. It’s a sight Tom Richards will never for­get on a night for the record books on which he punched his first ticket to rodeo par­adise. As a pretty cool side note, Bach roped at his first of a record 30 NFRs in 1978, which is the same year Tom’s dad, Ge­orge Richards, won the world with Brad Smith in Oklahoma City.

“Jaguar al­ways comes through,” Bach said. “We all feel that strong and spe­cial con­nec­tion with the good ones. It’s like that guy who would never bail on you and would al­ways have your back on the bat­tle­field. I al­ways felt like Daniel Green was that guy I’d want to go to war with, who’d have my back and do what­ever it took to suc­ceed. Jag’s like that on the horse side. Those great horses have that same kind of char­ac­ter, where they won’t cheat you, short­cut you or back­stab you, be­cause they sin­cerely want to help you.

“Who knows how far that horse will take Chad’s lit­tle boy. He’ll give him ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to be a great roper, if that’s what he de­cides to do. Des­tiny has its hands on ev­ery­thing we do. Get­ting to watch Ju­nior from when he was 9 years old to win­ning the world all-around cham­pi­onship was pretty amaz­ing to see. God is wo­ven into ev­ery story, and He’s had a hand in all the peo­ple Jag has helped along the way. The story of Jag is not over. And there will be a lot of peo­ple cheer­ing for him ev­ery step of the way, in­clud­ing me.”




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