For world-class roper Cory Solomon, it’s all about having enough horse power.
As the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s 2014 regular season was winding down in September, Solomon was near the bubble as he attempted to earn a third berth in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
But Solomon narrowly missed the cut in the tie-down roping event after his prize horse, Buzina, was taken out with a deadly bacterial infection.
When the Prairie View cowboy clinched the tie-down roping title Monday at the Fort Worth Stock Show’s Cowboys of Color Rodeo, he was roping from atop a savvy horse named Spook, a 15-year-old gelding that Solomon is counting on to return to the Las Vegas championships.
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“I don’t care how good you rope, you have to have the horse,” Solomon said. “Now I have one good horse, and one good horse is better than three horses that are not very good.”
When the title was at stake during a sold-out performance on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Solomon turned in a speedy time of 9.4 seconds at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
Solomon, who qualified for the NFR in 2011 and 2012, said he could have caught the calf quicker, but he was making sure Spook would run fast in the Will Rogers arena. The duo is also scheduled to compete in the Stock Show’s renowned PRCA show during a Wednesday morning (slack) performance.
“I was really setting myself up for Wednesday’s slack at the big rodeo,” Solomon said. “I had a really good calf and I could have thrown sooner, but I was trying to be smart and make sure my horse was really firing and running.
“I want him to be ready to run. I got to work my horse and come out with a win, and that’s also a blessing.”
Solomon earned $2,000 for winning the Cowboys of Color Rodeo. The money, however, does not count toward earning a National Finals berth because the event is not a PRCA competition.
If Solomon wins the Stock Show’s 2015 PRCA rodeo — which spans Wednesday through Feb. 7 — he could earn $10,000 to $15,000, depending on how he places throughout the three rounds and in the three-run aggregate standings.
Though the Cowboys of Color Rodeo is not PRCA sanctioned, it is part of a longtime, respected circuit that’s helped groom minority competitors. Solomon has been roping at Cowboys of Color rodeos since he was a boy, said Cleo Hearn of Lancaster, who served as managing director for the Fort Worth edition Monday.
Hearn said Solomon is a prime example of how a competitor can hone his skills at Cowboys of Color rodeos and then thrive on a world class level.
“Cory is guy that I saw and helped make the transition,” said Hearn, who once competed on the PRCA circuit. “Usually, I’ll get a guy started, but they fall out somewhere along the way. But Cory didn’t fall out. I would like black, white, green or purple kids to pattern after him.”
Ed Bass, the Stock Show’s board chairman, said Fort Worth’s Cowboys of Color Rodeo draws an enthusiastic crowd and proves to be a superb way to honor King, who led the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.
“A great way to celebrate a man like that is with something really positive, and boy, that rodeo is really positive and upbeat,” Bass said. “It’s a great rodeo. I’m really glad we do it.”