BY JOE NAIMAN
Fourth of July weekend is also known as Cowboy Christmas in rodeo, since cowboys can compete in several rodeos and have multiple chances to collect payouts.
This year’s Cowboy Christmas paid off for two Ramonans. Matt Deskovick collected $2,799 from the Prescott and Folsom rodeos and Mason Malone left Oakley City, Utah, with $1,035 in earnings.
“Really happy with it,” Deskovick said.
Deskovick traveled with his family from Ramona to Prescott before taking a flight from Phoenix to Sacramento to compete in the Folsom Pro Rodeo. Malone traveled with his father Mitch, with fellow Ramona cowboy Cameron Elston, and with their horses.
Malone rode Brown Horse during Cowboy Christmas. Malone competed in the Wednesday night slack session June 29 but broke the barrier, adding a 10-second penalty to his tie-down roping time of 8.8 seconds, which otherwise would have shared fifth place in that go-round.
The World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott began June 28 and had performances through July 4. The Malone group reached Prescott June 30 and watched that night’s performance before Malone competed July 1. He missed his first calf, and his time on his second run was too long to place.
Deskovick’s two steer wrestling runs at Prescott took place July 2. He rode his horse, Booger Red.
“My horse worked real good,” he said.
Deskovick caught and threw his first steer in 5.4 seconds, which would give him a four-way split of third place and $1,023 for his go-round position. “I didn’t know anything about the steer,” he said. “I didn’t know how good he was.”
The cowboy with the final paying position in the second go-round had a time of 6.4 seconds. Deskovick took 7.3 seconds.
“My second steer ran real hard,” Deskovick said. “I ran him a long way.”
Deskovick’s two-head average (aggregate) of 12.7 seconds placed fifth in the rodeo and provided him with another $900 for his average position.
The Folsom Pro Rodeo was July 1-3.
“I somehow talked myself into it,” Deskovick said. “Kind of glad I did ‘cause I needed circuit money and I got some.”
Qualification for the California Circuit finals is based on earnings from circuit rodeos. The top 12 earners in each event are invited to the California Finals Rodeo. Deskovick’s second-place time of 7.1 seconds at Folsom added $876 to his circuit earnings.
A steer wrestler traditionally gives 25 percent of his earnings to his hazer who guides the steer, and if a cowboy borrows a horse the cowboy who owns the horse also receives part of that payout. Deskovick used another cowboy’s horse at Folsom, although the entirety of his payout will count toward his circuit earnings.
Rodeo winner Josh Garner, whose run at Folsom took 5.3 seconds, had already competed before Deskovick made his run.
“You needed to get out, get one caught, thrown down without breaking the barrier,” Deskovick said. “Folsom’s a really, really hard arena. The arena’s real short, the box is real narrow.”
The third-place time at Folsom was 11.6 seconds.
“They had a lot of broken barriers,” Deskovick said.
Malone returned to Oakley City on July 3 and made his second run at the Oakley Independence Day Rodeo on July 4.
“I drew a calf that I had seen run twice before in slack there,” Malone said. “He just kicked. It was hard to catch the front leg.”
After a tie-down roping cowboy catches his calf, he must tie three of its legs. Malone flanked his calf and grabbed its front leg.
“He’d stick his leg forward like towards his head,” Malone said.
The calf must stay tied for 6 seconds after the cowboy returns to his horse. Malone realized that he needed to make two wraps on the calf.
“Lucky it held, ‘cause he was trying to get up the whole time,” Malone said.
The cowboy’s time is from when the calf leaves the chute to when the cowboy finishes his wrap. The time to return to the horse and to six-second wait do not count toward the time.
The completion of those 6 seconds gave Malone an official time of 9.6 seconds, third place in the go-round, and $1,035.
“That last run paid for the trip,” said Malone. “You can’t complain too much when you drive 2,500 miles and it pays for your trip.”