DEAR ROPER

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Departments - Note from Chelsea Shaf­fer

I re­mem­ber sit­ting at Omaha in 2014, back when the PRCA and the Nebraska city hosted the Cham­pi­ons Chal­lenge and Justin Boots Fi­nale there. Der­rick Be­gay didn’t have a great sea­son that year, but even though he’d gone home, he got to fly in to rope at Omaha be­cause of a rule on the books that he got to com­pete be­cause he and Ce­sar de la Cruz had won the event the year be­fore.

At the time, Ce­sar was rop­ing with Tom Richards, and they were in the thick of a bat­tle to make Ce­sar’s ninth and Tom’s first trip to the Wran­gler Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo. Der­rick had one shot—one steer—to help out the part­ner with whom he’d made five trips to Sin City, but he didn’t have his great Swag­ger there to ride.

Ev­ery other top 20 roper had their best horse there, and, given the sit­u­a­tion, Der­rick could have cho­sen any of the best in the busi­ness on which to back into the box. But given the choice, he hopped on Clay Tryan’s Cate, who is grac­ing our cover this month in memo­riam, as she passed away ear­lier this sum­mer.

Cate didn’t win the awards. Dew, Clay’s Horse of the Year, got most of the ac­co­lades and fame. But Cate did the leg work for so much of Clay’s dom­i­nant streak, a streak that saw him win three gold buck­les and dom­i­nate the reg­u­lar sea­son six times.

On Cate that night, Der­rick stuck— and he and Ce­sar won sec­ond with a 4.0-sec­ond run, and Tom, who roped with Allen Bach, won the rodeo with a 3.9. It was a one-two punch that sent Tom and Ce­sar to the Fi­nals that year.

“I’ve mounted quite a few guys out in my life,” Clay told me back in 2014. “This mare has been just as good as Dew, so I wasn’t sur­prised he’d want to ride her. The real good head­ers know she’s great.”

Cate, along with so many more bredto-fly head horses, are pro­filed in Julie Mankin’s fea­ture on page 82, a story that tells you about the legacy of run­ning-bred horses in the rodeo ranks.

On your way to that fea­ture, I hope you en­joy the rest of this is­sue, and let me know what you liked:

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