Rodeo returning to Eagle | VailDaily.com

Rodeo returning to Eagle

Daily Staff Report
Newsroom@vaildaily.com
Vail, Co Colorado

EAGLE – Brad Higgins has seen plenty during his time in the picturesque Rocky Mountains, but what happened last year during the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo will sit in his memory bank for years to come.

“What that horse did in that arena was just unbelievable,” Higgins, the fair’s manager, said of Grass Dancer, the Carr Pro Rodeo horse that guided bareback rider Ryan Gray to a world record-tying 94 points. “But that wasn’t the only great ride. That performance started with an 87, which would’ve won most rodeos. But the 87 ended up at fifth place.”

Now everyone involved would like to see more record-setting performances at this year’s Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. July 28-31.

Higgins isn’t the only person who remembers that weekend in Eagle a year ago. Pickup man Paul Peterson, who works at dozens of rodeos each year – including some of the biggest in the sport – said the Colorado community plays a terrific host. The atmosphere is one of the key ingredients to a successful event, but the weather was especially nice to the animals in the competition.

“With that mountain air, the animals just loved it,” said Peterson, who has been selected to work the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three times. “They were all on top of their game that week. Grass Dancer was good, but everything was bucking. Coming from Texas and bucking in that mountain air was just great for all those animals.”

Gray wasn’t the only bareback rider to score well in Eagle that weekend: Clint Cannon of Waller, Texas, and Kelly Timberman of Mills, Wyo., finished tied for second with 91s. While Gray distanced himself from the field to earn more than $2,500, Cannon and Timberman earned their paychecks on the backs of award-winning Carr bucking horses – Cannon spurred 2005 world champion bareback horse Real Deal, while Timberman matched moves with River Boat Annie, the 2007 reserve world champion.

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“The combination of things really made a difference for me that day,” said Gray, a five-time NFR qualifier from Lubbock, Texas. “The horses were feeling good, and it was cool in Eagle. Grass Dancer is a great horse, and she had a great day. The matchup was there, and everything came together.”

The horses may have enjoyed the cooler weather or the mountains as a backdrop, but the cowboys made their way to Eagle, too. Of the eight bareback riders who earned money last year, six have been to the NFR, the season-ending championship in ProRodeo.

“It’s really a great rodeo, and the horses just loved it there,” said Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo. “