No slacking off

Staff photo: Andy DeLisle Jason Amon’s horse Cajun Moon rears up as it leaves the chute Thursday during the 37th annual Pioneer Days PRCA Rodeo at Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena. Amon scored a 77 on his ride.

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

Two recent PRCA all-around world champs were in the calf roping competition Thursday in the 37th annual Pioneer Days Rodeo.

Only a small fraction of the crowd saw both, however.

Ryan Jarrett, the 2005 all-around champion, was in the “performance” portion of the rodeo — i.e., the main part of the competition that has 10 entrants for each event and also includes entertainment like, on Thursday, a roping exhibition.

After the bullriding was complete, and the bulk of the crowd filed out of the Mounted Patrol Arena, the “slack” began. For events that have more than 10 entrants, the spillover cowboys and cowgirls compete in front of their peers and little else.

The slack isn’t just the best of the rest either. On Thursday, current all-around champ Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, plied his tried without the typical fanfare that casual rodeo fans are accustomed to seeing.

Jarrett, in his first rodeo since suffering an ACL injury last year, thought that being in the slack had its advantages.

“In the slack, you’ll have reruns so you’ll have seen your calf go probably. No crowds, everything’s quiet,” Jarrett said. “Between reruns and slack runs, that’s how you make world champions.”

Certainly, Jarrett wasn’t happy with his position Thursday. Not only was his name drawn as one of the 10 to be in the main performance, the 23-year-old Georgia native was also the first to go in his event.

After tying his calf in 15.1 seconds, Jarrett irritably pushed the animal away from him. Sure enough, his time was eclipsed after only a few more entrants had their turn.

“Especially, you don’t want to be the first roper,” said Jarrett, who was competing at his first Pioneer Days rodeo.
Twenty minutes after the P.A. announcer bid the crowd adieu, at around 10:05 p.m., Brazile was patiently waiting his turn to compete in calf roping and team roping.

Brazile has won the all-around PRCA title in four of the last five years. While the dirt was being dragged in preparation for further competition, Brazile said he didn’t think the relative solitude of the slack was too advantageous.

“More of it depends on horses, more than anything. As far as the cowboys go, if the lights bother them, they’re not going to make it very much in this business anyway,” Brazile said. “But it makes a big difference with the horses. A lot of times, the horses get a little more nervous when there’s a lot of people, lights and music.”

Barrel racer Julie Baish of Las Cruces, she was looking at making her run deep into the night. Joking before the rodeo began on Thursday, Baish said she’d probably be going through the barrels at around midnight and might try to get in a nap before that happened.

Baish said she also definitely intended on watching the 10 barrel racers in the “competition” draw.

“The big thing in barrel racing is that everybody wants to know how the ground is holding their horses,” said Baish, scheduled third from the end in the slack for the last event of the night. “You watch this and you have a little bit better advantage; you’re going to know how to race your horse in that ground.”