Game-Changing Horse

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

Scooter’s a winner. As weird as that sounds, he knows his job, and he wants to win.

by Tyler Pearson and Kyle Irwin

TYLER: When Kyle drew that steer, I knew it was gonna be a tough go. I knew, because I had run the same steer a couple weeks earlier at Hermiston, Oregon. I was riding a new horse we were hauling called Bobby. I was in good shape and wanted to give Scooter a break. The steer ran hard and went left, and then he stopped and tried to get behind me, and I missed his inside horn. The next guy who drew the same steer didn’t have no luck either.

Now we were at Walla Walla, Washington, and Kyle drew the very same steer. I knew Kyle could get him thrown down, but we were at the point where Kyle needed to start winning. He was falling out of the top fifteen, and he only had a month left in the 2018 season.

Kyle had two things going for him: he knew that steer’s little trick, and he was riding Scooter.

KYLE: I was on the bubble when we got to Walla Walla. Me and Cameron Morman and Tanner Milan and Nick Guy were all real tight. We’re buddies, but let’s face it, we were all trying to make the Finals, all fighting for the same spot. It was one of those deals where everybody was watching what everybody else did, and at Walla Walla, it was like, Kyle didn’t draw a good one.

I remembered the steer from Hermiston, when I was hazing for Tyler. The steer left the chute and ran hard, and then he stopped and jumped back. He was kind of funky on the ground, what we bulldoggers call dead-acting.

So at Walla Walla, it was my turn.

“You gotta get ahead of that steer,” Tyler told me. “No matter what, get ahead of him.”

I backed Scooter into the box. The steer left the chute running hard.

TYLER: Scooter broke real wide. When the steer stepped left, Scooter ran down the wall and beat that steer. The steer didn’t have nowhere to go.

KYLE: Scooter ran him down and put me in position, and when that steer stopped, it was like I had a trap set for him. The steer jumped, and I hit in the middle of his back.

TYLER: Kyle hit the horns so hard it knocked the steer off track. Whenever Kyle went for the nose, that steer had no choice but to take it.

KYLE: I got my hands on him right away. I was able to have him shaped and in position before he could do his little deal. It was like Scooter could read the play. He ran so hard, he had that steer offkilter. Scooter, he just sucked him up.

It was a fast flag. I was 4.3 and placed second in the round. I give credit right there to that horse. It came at a crucial time for me. It was a big confidence boost. I came back on my second steer and got one that really runs. Keep in mind, this is after four or five runs. It was one of those slacks where we were just boom-boom, back-to-back. Scooter was carrying four bulldoggers. This was going to be his sixth run of the day, of backing in the box and running his heart out. Once again, Scooter licked him up. I was a little longer—4.8 seconds—and placed in the last hole in the round. But that put me second in the average, and I left Walla Walla with thirty-six hundred and a spot in the top fifteen.

TYLER: Scooter gave Kyle a great chance, and Kyle made an outstanding run. He placed in a round that I didn’t think a guy could place in. After that, Kyle started clicking. That was a game-changer right there, thanks to Scooter.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

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True Colors

TYLER: Scooter’s registered name is Canted Plan. Me and Kyle bought him sight unseen from a guy named Jason Reiss in North Dakota on the recommendation of a friend. When I picked Scooter up in Dallas, I was surprised by how long-haired and pot-bellied he was from the cold Dakota winter. I was kind of bummed. He didn’t look fast. He was kind of sway-backed. I remember thinking, I’ve never spent this much on a horse. Did we just make a huge mistake?

KYLE: That was a pretty penny to pay for a horse, especially one you never laid eyes on. You never really know if a horse has what it takes until you start hauling them twelve-to-fourteen-hours in a trailer, jumping off to go run one and putting them back in the trailer to haul some more. Jason did a phenomenal job training Scooter to be patient and calm. He had some luck on him in the Badlands Circuit rodeos. But a horse has to go against guys at the level we compete at before you really see their true colors.

Scooter showed his true colors right away. And he hasn’t stopped impressing us. He just shines.

Last year, Scooter carried four of us—me and Pearson, Ty Waguespack and Ty Erickson—at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Combined, we won nearly half a million dollars in ten days. That’s fifty grand a night! Scooter helped us take four of the top five spots in the world standings, including a Gold Buckle for Pearson.

This year, Scooter had another phenomenal season. For the second year in a row, he won the AQHA Horse of the Year for steer wrestling. We tried keeping up with how much money Scooter has won, but we lost track. At Houston alone, he won over a hundred thousand. Tyler won second at The American on Scooter this year. And Scooter helped the four of us make the NFR again.

TYLER: For me, this was one of those years you dream about. I’ve never won so many rodeos. Scooter and I won Fort Worth, Denver, Spanish Fork, Utah; Nampa, Idaho; and Lawton, Oklahoma.

It wasn’t always easy. At Nampa, the steers were stopping. My first steer at Nampa stopped, but I caught him and placed good in the round. At Spanish Fork, Utah, I drew a runner in the first round. Scooter caught up so fast, I was actually caught off guard.

Scooter’s just so broke. Whether the steers stop or run or turn, Scooter’s good in all situations. He’s not just running off. He’s got a calculated approach. He’s going to a spot—especially if we point him to that spot—and he’s going to it with intent. That’s where I think his go is so special. If a steer is supposed to stay straight and really run, we’ll just break to the middle and let Scooter have it. But if he’s supposed to step left, we’ll dang sure break left of the middle so we can beat the steer that way. If you get to trailing behind, it’s gonna cost seconds. The faster you can get your feet on the ground, the faster you’re gonna be. That’s where Scooter’s special. Once that steer does step left and Scooter breaks wide, your feet are on the ground so fast. It’s Scooter’s speed but also his approach.

No matter what happened this year, whenever we needed him, he was always there.

KYLE: Scooter’s a winner. As weird as that sounds, he knows his job, and he wants to win. If Scooter were a baseball player, he’d be Derek Jeter. Jeter was a heck of an athlete, effective against any kind of pitcher and a great sportsman. We’re fixing to go to Vegas, where it’s nod-and-ride and crazy fast, or you can go to Cheyenne, where it’s a thirty-foot score, one of the longest in rodeo. Scooter can fit any situation. And he’s just a good old dude. Some of the great horses are cantankerous or aggravating to be around. Some are mean. People just put up with them because they win. Scooter’s not. If he were a person, he’d be one of the guys. One of the guys who’s very good at what he does.

TYLER: Whenever it’s business, Scooter will dang sure get a little hyped up, but if I’m leading Scooter back to the barn, I can put my little boy, Stetson, on him and he’ll just walk. He’s got a very good disposition. You never have to worry about him around other horses or your kids or wife. You don’t have to worry about him hurting anybody. Scooter knows the difference between work and family time.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

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Close Call

TYLER: This year we were out in Ellensburg, Washington. It was the first time we ever put up electric fence for the horses. We went to bed. Everybody was good. The horses were good. I fell asleep and woke up around three in the morning to Metallica, my hazing horse, nickering and hollering and running up and down the lane. I looked out, and Scooter wasn’t in his pen.

I know he won’t last forever, but I sure want him to be as healthy as he can be, because he’s going to die on my place, and I plan on that being ten or twenty years from now.

Unlike Scooter, Metallica, is aggravating as hell. Scooter’s thirteen and Metallica is a few years younger. He’s nervous and as immature as they get. And he hates for you to take Scooter away from him. That’s his buddy, even though Metallica insists on pestering the crap out of Scooter, eating his food, walking around him, walking under him. Metallica’s like a little brother wanting attention. But Metallica’s so talented, I put up with him. Scooter puts up with him, too.

Metallica was freaking out because Scooter was gone. We all got up and went straight to looking for him. We were all in our underwear—four big old cowboys wearing nothing but boots and underwear out hunting Scooter. Irwin might have thrown on a shirt. Thank God there weren’t a bunch of people out there.

We finally found him a couple hundred yards away. Somebody had caught him and put him in the stall.

After that, we bought panels. I don’t use the electric fence no more. We set up panels anytime we need them. I don’t give it a second thought.


As goofy as Metallica can be, I don’t think Scooter would be as good as he is without my hazing horse over there racing him. Metallica’s so fast that Scooter has to run that much harder just to keep up. They are a team, and I think iron sharpens iron. That’s the way it is with all of us cowboys. We’re four guys, a buddy group. We’re competitive and all want each other to do good. Talent feeds off talent. It’s the same way with Metallica and Scooter.


TYLER: We got another horse in the truck this year, the one we call Bobby. Last year we hauled the legs off Scooter. I didn’t want to do that again this year, so Bobby took some runs off Scooter. We’re trying to take a little more care with him and hopefully make him that much stronger and better.

I’ve got a big hill on the back of my place in Oklahoma that’s all sand. I use it to exercise Scooter. If you ride to the top, there’s a really pretty view. You can look over the whole place. The sand’s not too deep, but it’s deep enough that he’s dang sure pulling. I work Scooter there once or twice a week when we’re home. It makes him strong. You want your bulldogging horses strong. You want them to feel good. You get in that sand, and it’s just working their muscles, not beating up their joints.

Scooter’s been healthy, knock on wood. He gets all the supplements. He gets the feed, the good hay. Scooter gets the royal treatment. He’s got everything but a room in the house. And if it flooded like it did back in Louisiana, I’d put him in the house in a heartbeat. We’ve gotten a lot of rain, but I’m not too worried. We’re on high ground. If we flood, the whole state of Oklahoma is in a bad bind.

Is Scooter one of the best bulldogging horses ever? I haven’t rode everybody else’s horse, so I can’t say. One of the best bulldogging horses I’ve ever seen was called Willy. He won gold buckles for several cowboys. They say Willy was amazing at all different situations. That’s what Scooter feels like to me. Cadillac is another great horse. For Scooter to be in the same talk with those horses is truly amazing to me.

He’s thirteen and, I think, he’s reaching his prime, but his prime can last longer. He’s young enough and hasn’t been hauled all his life. I know he won’t last forever, but I sure want him to be as healthy as he can be, because he’s going to die on my place, and I plan on that being ten or twenty years from now.

I’ve always wanted a horse like this. It’s taken me most of my career to find him.

Scooter’s dang sure the best horse I ever rode, probably the best I’ll ever own. You can’t ask for no better.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen