Friday Night Lights

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

Even when you have the fifteen best horses in the world, some will still be better than others. On Friday night, I drew one of the better ones.

by Tilden Hooper

The Thomas & Mack is a tough place for bucking horses, just like it is for cowboys. It’s a smaller arena. There are 18,000 people right there on top of them. Between the lights and all the smoke they shoot off, the electricity is the same for them as for us. Some of these horses can be amazing all year long at big outdoor arenas, but you bring them here and they just don’t have quite the day. On Friday night, the horse I drew, Rafter G Rodeo’s Ankle Biter, had a good day.

That horse is proven in this arena. He’s been around for a long time. Man, I think I won a round on him at Fort Worth back in 2008 when he was still pretty young.


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I knew if I could get him picked up and really get a good start, get in time with him, that he’d get in the air and give me a chance to show off a little bit and have some fun. That’s what happened. About the second jump, I felt like I got him to come back to me and felt like I had him where I wanted him. The closer the bucking horses stay to the chutes and the tighter they circle around there, the more the judges like it.

The judges liked it. I was 87.5 and won the round.

I’ve got my wife and mom and dad out here with me. Some other family members arrived yesterday. And there are some people from my hometown, Carthage, Texas. Carthage High School has a really badass football team. They’ve been undefeated for about the last four years. They won on Friday night. All my friends were posting on Facebook how the Bulldogs won and I won Round Two and how it was a good night for Carthage.

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