SAN ANGELO, Texas — Pete Carr’s journey to becoming a pro rodeo stock contractor started after 15-plus years competing as a bareback rider.
The San Angelo Standard-Times reports he loved the rodeo, he said, and like many others in the sport, “When they get too old to compete, they find that all their friends and family are in the industry, so they continue in it in some capacity.”
Carr had the experience of being a contestant and had previously put on rodeos, but “I don’t know if it prepared me for what I was getting into” when he started Pete Carr Pro Rodeo in 2004.
He didn’t take the more common stock contractor route of starting in junior rodeos and climbing the ranks into the professional rodeos. He started at the top by purchasing a large company already serving professional rodeos, and he continued buying out companies along the way.
Starting out with just a handful of animals, Carr would use subcontractors to bring in the rest of the animals needed for the rodeos. These days, he keeps about 400 horses and nearly 100 bulls at his ranch in Athens, Texas, with more animals housed in several other areas.
To serve the San Angelo Rodeo, Carr planned to supply 288 horses and 72 bulls for the 12 performances. The final rodeo event is Saturday.
Carr summed up the life of a stock contractor as working on the ranch 24 hours a day and dealing with the “million things that come up throughout the day that you didn’t expect,” all to go to the rodeo and “put on a show for a few hours.”
Getting on the road is the fun part, though. He said the pride he feels when one of his broncs or bulls performs well is akin to that of parents when their children do well.
People often don’t realize that being the primary stock contractor for professional rodeos requires Carr to have an extensive breeding program, he said.
“We search the world over to keep up with the quality of the animals needed to put on a show like San Angelo.”
Some of those high-quality animals include Dirty Jacket, a two-time Bucking Horse of the Year and eight-time NFR Bucking Horse; Outa Sight, a five-time NFR Bucking Horse; and Half Nutz and Poker Face, runner-up world champion bulls.
Carr said he is always breeding and buying animals, and “when you find the special ones, you really want to take care of them.”
And finding the special ones proves difficult.
“People can raise 100 bulls and only two are good enough for PRCA.”
Rodeo bulls are generally 4-6 years old, with a 3-year-old brought in every once in a while. Carr said he doesn’t like bringing horses to rodeos until they are at least 4.
The horses begin their training at age 3, bucking with a dummy. At age 4, they’ll start bucking with actual riders. Carr said he’ll bring them to nearby rodeos to get them used to riding in the trailers and hearing the different sounds.
He is gentle with them at that age, he said, because he likes to let the animals grow up and mature “before I go out and knock the shine off them.”
The bulls and horses also differ in what is needed to keep them healthy and performing well.
Bulls can be used twice in one rodeo because “the more you buck a bull, the better he gets,” Carr said. “The more you buck a horse, the worse he gets.”
Carr compared bulls to humans, with our health improving the more active we are. Horses, he compared to tires, with the thread thinning with each trip.
To qualify for pro rodeos, horses must have eight performances each year, so Carr shoots to use each only that many times.
When it comes to raising them, the horses are easy compared to the bulls, Carr said.
“When (the bulls are) out there in the pasture there’s a whole bunch of them and they just get bored,” he said, which leads to digging holes, getting in fights and tearing down fences. “The bulls tear up a lot of stuff.”
To make their way to San Angelo, Carr said he needed a crew of 20-25 people. The animals are brought in batches, because there wouldn’t be enough space on the grounds to hold all of the animals he’ll use in the rodeo.
Four to five spreadsheets hold the stock list, the schedule of when animals are performing, when the draws need to be turned in and the other contractors that help. Each day starts with feedings, then sorting the animals into different pens before the night’s performance.
“We stay pretty busy. It’s kind of a full-time gig,” Carr said.
It is the life he chose and loves and feels blessed to have, he said.
“I love it because I love horses. I love bulls. I love animals in general.”
Information from: Standard-Times, http://www.sanangelostandardtimes.com
This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the San Angelo Standard-Times