The 38th annual PRCA Pioneer Days Rodeo began with the array of flags and colors in the opening procession. It also had the sporting jibes between the public address announcer and the rodeo clowns.
There were also novelty acts, music, eight regular rodeo events and two not-so-regular ones: mutton busting for children and wild cow milking for teams of three adults.
However, eight hours before the Thursday night regular performance started, reigning PRCA all-around champion Trevor Brazile participated in steer roping in the Curry County Mounted Patrol.
Steer roping might be considered his specialty as the Decatur, Texas, native has taken year-end honors in that event for the past three years.
Brazile was part of a group of 48 cowboys who were in the slack competition on Thursday. The slack is utilized when too many entrants want to be in the same event and can’t all compete during the regular rodeo.
For men like Brazile, the slack gives them an opportunity to try for prize money in Clovis — as well as other rodeos held concurrently.
“Because there’s steer roping, it definitely makes Clovis an important place for me to be at,” said Brazile, who has won the all-around championship in four of the last five years. “I was at Garden City (Kansas) yesterday, and I’ll be back at Garden City Friday night and then Stephenville (Texas) on Saturday.”
Brazile was also scheduled to compete in team-roping and calf-roping slack competitions late Thursday night.
“The night’s fun, with the fans and everything, but it really doesn’t matter to me,” Brazile said. “It gives me more of a chance to sign a few autographs and do things during the rodeo when normally I would have to be getting ready.”
He also said some animals seem to do better in the daytime, away from throngs of spectators, or both.
“A lot of the horses do. Especially in the steer roping and calf roping, where you have to get off of them and they have to do a lot of stuff on their own,” Brazile said. “It’s sometimes, especially for the younger horses, a little bit difficult on them to deal with the pressures of the crowd and do their job.”
“The horse I have gets a little nervous in crowd situations,” he added.
During the steer roping slack, much of the livestock seemed lethargic leaving the chute.
But there was a simple explanation for that, according to some of the participants. And the chance to be in the event outweighed whatever disadvantage caused by the slow-moving animals.
“These steers have never been roped, so that makes them fresh and that’s why they’re like that,” said Cash Myers of Athens, Texas, who finished second to Brazile in last year’s steer roping overall standings. “It looks easier when they’re not going, but it’s a little easier when they’re going hard.
“Having steer roping here really draws guys like myself. As long as they have steer roping, I’ll be here.”