First Time Out

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

Now that we’re getting ready for the Fourth of July run, I’m so excited I can’t even stand it.

by Paden Bray

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This is the first time I’ve ever left the house and gone for the summer—like actually gone and competed beyond Stephenville, Texas. I’ll admit that I’m as green as they come. I can’t even tell you where I’m going next. I’m usually in the backseat with my headphones on. I’m traveling with my partner, header Erich Rogers. He has his own routine, and I just follow along like a kid on vacation. We’re using my truck and his trailer, but I let him drive ninety-five percent of the time. I’m sure he’ll tell you why!

I’ve known Erich since I was a boy. He’s from Arizona, and he has been staying at my family’s house pretty much every winter for the past decade—before Erich Rogers was Erich Rogers, world champion! He used to pick me up from school and take me to the barn to rope. When I was a freshman in high school, I started going with Erich to the Cinch Timed Event Championship in Guthrie, Oklahoma. I cleaned stalls, helped him feed, organized his ropes—whatever he needed me to do. By the time I was a senior, I actually got to heel for him there in Guthrie.

This year, we started roping together and winning money at jackpots around the house. In March, Erich asked me to go on the road with him.

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

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I’m traveling with two horses. The one named Slider is a sorrel horse I bought as a weanling. I halter broke him and have been riding him since he was three. He’s eleven now. I’ve mounted him out a few times, but I’m hyper-selective about that. He’s been my good horse since he was five.

Just this summer, I bought a fifteen-year-old dun horse named Hugh Hefner from Mark and Andy Weekly. He’s got a Playboy bunny on his left jaw. My brother has a horse named Playboy, so it seemed fitting. Hugh has been the best thing to happen to my career this season. When Erich rides his dun horse, Boogeyman, I ride Hugh. It seems to work well when we ride our duns together, especially in the short, snappy setups.

Our buddy team is Dustin Bird and Trey Yates, so we’ll mount out with them at times. We might have a rig going one place, and their rig might be going towards another. Lots of moving parts!

So far this year, I have $11,000 won and thirteen official rodeos. For team ropers sixty-five rodeos can count, which is ten less than last year. I just want to cover some ground and rack up some rodeos. We’ve entered up pretty well so far, and we’ve been placing. I can only hope this positive start carries through.

Now that we’re getting ready for the Fourth of July run, I’m so excited I can’t even stand it. I’ve got a really good partner who makes it easy, so I feel like my job is to catch the steer everyday. If I do, I’ll get paid about every time.

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