I Belong

 photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

I’m not just some gunslinger from the Southeast.

by Dustin Egusquiza


 

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This year, I was worried about zeroing out again over the Fourth of July. That happened last year, and, man, it takes you way down.

Last year was only my second year pro rodeoing and my first time roping with Kory Koontz, or Dawg as everybody calls him. We had a lot of money won after having a good winter, close to fifty thousand each.

Doing good all winter doesn’t necessarily make you cocky, but it makes you feel like you’re supposed to be here and you’re supposed to win and losing’s not acceptable. But you’re always gonna lose some, no matter who you are. So when the summer rodeos got underway, and we started losing, it was okay. I didn’t get too down on myself. Then, during the Fourth of July run, we didn’t win a dime. The entry fees and diesel money, it added up fast. We ran out of money and were just barely hanging on. After a month and a half of not winning, traveling back and fourth all over the country to keep getting beat, that was hard. All that money we won over the winter saved us, and we still got into the National Finals last year in one of the last spots.

This year, we didn’t have nearly as good a winter. I think we had about twenty-seven thousand won. That was the scariest part for me. I didn’t want to get in that tight spot again over the summer, where you’re worrying about money and trying to rope and trying to make the Finals. Put it all together, and that’s a lot of weight on your shoulders.

Dawg handled not winning a lot better than I did. He said he has zeroed out a few times over his career. It happens, and it’s not the end of the world. It’s going to turn around sometime.

This year, to prepare for summer, I worked hard every day, trying to make a different kind of run than you do in the winter. It’s a little farther at the outdoor rodeos. You gotta go another swing or two. Your horse has to run a little more.

I was confident going into Reno in June, but we didn’t do any good at Reno. We didn’t do any good at the Bob Feist International, either. I was thinking, Man, I can’t do this again. We have to win.

We went to Greeley next, which starts the Fourth of July, and we still didn’t do any good. I messed up both steers over there. It really started weighing on me. This can’t happen again.

After Greeley, we went to Pecos, Texas. We placed in the first round. Then I broke the barrier to win the rodeo. We should have won a lot of money. Instead, we drove away with a check for $174.

“At least we didn’t get skunked this Fourth of July,” I told Dawg. Woohoo, we’re on a roll now!

Even though we were joking about our tiny check, at least we won something. We broke the ice. We were not gonna get zeroed out like we did last year.

At Prescott, we won the second round. That paid around twenty-three-hundred bucks, and it helped a lot. We drove twenty-four hours to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, for the Black Hills Roundup, the first big one-header of the Fourth. We were in the last perf, and we won the rodeo. That paid sixty-five-hundred dollars.

After Belle Fourche, it was like, Okay, we’ve done good already. Let’s build on this.

We did. We made a lot of good runs and only a couple of mistakes. But the pressure was off, and those mistakes didn’t bother me. We ended up winning more money than any other team ropers over the Fourth of July.

That $174 check really did put us on a roll. After the Fourth, we jumped to fifth or sixth in the standings. We kept winning consistently. Making the NFR for the first time last year was the best feeling ever. I wanted to get back there so bad. So this year, after Cheyenne, when we had like eighty-thousand won, it was a huge relief knowing we had enough to make the NFR again. When the year ended, we finished third with more than a hundred-thousand won.

I’m from Florida, and a lot of the guys out West tend to think the only thing ropers from the Southeast can do is go fast, that we’re not good at long scores. Being able to compete with top guys at the summer rodeos, going into the NFR third in the world, helps you feel like you belong. You’re not just some gunslinger from the Southeast.

 
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