REDDING, Calif. – Dakota Eldridge is quickly putting together a résumé which shows he’s one of the best young bulldoggers in the game today.
The 23-year-old Elko, Nev., native won his third big rodeo of the 2015 season when he took the average title at the May 13-15 Redding (Calif.) Rodeo, a Wrangler Million Dollar Tour Silver rodeo, presented by Justin Boots.
Eldridge tied for fourth in the first round and was fourth in the second round en route to a time of 9.7 seconds on two head, which was enough for the average title and total earnings of $4,039 in Redding.
“I’ve never had as great of a spring as I’m having right now, and this year I’ve done things better and taken advantage of the steers that I drew,” Eldridge said. “I’ve practiced a little more at home this season, and I’ve tried to mount my horse (Rusty) out less. It’s paid off so far.”
Eldridge won the Kissimmee (Fla.) Wrangler Champions Challenge event in October 2014, and then took the title in Logandale, Nev., last month.
Aboard 16-year-old Rusty, Eldridge is brimming with confidence – and with good reason. Rusty has helped make Eldridge one of the most dangerous bulldoggers in the world in a short amount of time.
“I used to calf and team rope a lot, and didn’t really focus as much on steer wrestling, but I knew I had to capitalize on having this horse right now while he can still go,” Eldridge said. “The cards that were dealt to me were to bulldog, and I stuck my neck out on the line and went all-in, and luckily it worked.
“Everything has happened pretty fast for me. I’m only 23, but I got in with the right guys and I’ve had things fall into place. Now, my goal is a gold buckle. I have the horsepower and crew to do it, and I want to have as much won as I can before the Finals.”
Entering the weekend, Eldridge sat 13th in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings, and should move closer to the top 10 after his win in Redding.
He’s qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo the past two years, finishing third in the WNFR average race in 2014, and second in 2013.
He and traveling partner Sterling Lambert – a Fallon, Nev., native – are in their third year of hitting the road together. Lambert hazes for Eldridge, and he has as much confidence in Lambert as he does in Rusty.
“Sterling has this great new haze horse, so we have quite a bit of horsepower behind us, which is what it’s all about,” Eldridge said. “Having good horses is the only way to be successful.
“Sterling has a great hazing horse, and I couldn’t ask for a better hazer, which is another thing that’s helped me out this spring – his horse can keep up with Rusty.”
Other winners at the $171,737 rodeo were all-around cowboy Trevor Brazile ($5,422 in team roping and tie-down roping), bareback rider Luke Creasy (85 points on Four Star Rodeo’s Rusty Slim), team ropers Bubba Buckaloo and Russell Cardoza (11.5 seconds on two head), saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley (86 points on Growney Brothers Rodeo’s Blazing Gun), tie-down roper Clint Robinson (17.1 seconds on two head), barrel racer Brittany Kelly (17.29 seconds) and bull riders Wesley Silcox (87 points on Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Big Cool) and Brennon Eldred (87 points on Growney Brothers Rodeo’s No. 922).
Courtesy of PRCA