Rodeo: Hitting the trail – Cowboy ready to hit long road for nationals

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, June 25, 2016
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After getting in late from a rodeo Wednesday night, Brett Stuart planned to make a few practice runs Thursday morning at the ring at his home west of Bridgeport before hitting the road again.

TRYING TO LASSO TITLES – Paradise senior Brett Stuart will head to the International Youth Finals Rodeo and National High School Finals Rodeo next month to compete in steer wrestling and team roping. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Stuart planned to be in Pauls Valley, Okla., College Station, Mexia and Bowie for events within a span of four days.

The busy schedule is just a warmup for the Paradise senior’s hectic July. The steer wrestler and calf roper will compete in the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Okla. July 10-15 before heading to Gillette, Wyo. for the National High School Finals Rodeo July 17-23.

The young cowboy knows travel is part of the sport he loves.

“That’s what [cowboys] do – drive, sleep a little bit and rope a lot,” Stuart said. “That’s really all I’ve ever known growing up. It’s what I was meant to do and what my mom and dad wanted me to do. I started at a young age and it’s stuck ever since.”

Stuart started competing as a third grader and kept going. He qualified for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo and won the national title as a seventh grader in team roping. A year later, he added a national crown in chute dogging, which he explained is similar to steer wrestling except you don’t jump off a horse.

After that success in middle school, Stuart learned a hard lesson as a high school freshman about the need to work hard and continually improve.

“I qualified to the high school state finals in Abilene. It was a different deal,” Stuart recalled. “I didn’t prepare myself like I should have before I left the house.”

Since then, he’s dedicated himself to practicing, heading calves daily around going to school. In the summer, when he’s not competing, he’s back in the ring.

The Paradise senior has resisted the urge to participate in other sports to spend more time riding and roping.

“My dad always told me, you can be good at a lot of things, but you can only be great at one,” Stuart said. “I’ve tried to put all my time and effort into the rodeo aspect of things. I still have a lot to work on.”

The long hours practicing has paid off. He won the all-around title last year at IFYR, winning a trailer. It’s one of two trailers he’s won in the last year. In 2014, he said he won nearly $30,000 at amateur rodeos.

Stuart is hoping for a repeat in Shawnee before making a hectic trip to Wyoming.

He qualified for nationals with second-place finish in steer wrestling at state earlier this month.

He and longtime partner Tyson Thompson of Munday earned a national bid in team roping with a third-place finish at state. The two, who won a junior high national title together, will also team up at the IFYR.

Stuart’s long-term goal is to join the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association. Having just turned 18, he is eligible to purchase his PRCA permit.

“I’m going to wait and make sure I’m ready to go before I do,” he said. “It’s legit when you get out there with those guys.

“I don’t really plan on making a living any other way. If you are good enough, you can make a living doing this. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and practice.”

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