Vezain Finds Success in Lea County

J.R. Vezain, the No. 8-ranked bareback rider in ProRodeo, rides Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Painted River for 87 points to take the lead at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo. (PEGGY GANDER PHOTO)

LOVINGTON, N.M. – There’s something about Jake McClure Arena that draws Wyoming cowboy J.R. Vezain back to town every year.

Maybe it’s the Pete Carr bucking horses. Maybe there’s something that’s in the water. Nonetheless, Vezain has found his share of success at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, and the 2017 edition seems to follow the same pattern.

“I always seem to do good this week every year,” said Vezain, who rodeo Carr’s Painted River for 87 points to take the lead in bareback riding. “I always seem to have good luck here. I always draw good. I feel like I’m riding good, so I just need to keep it rolling through the summer.”

He sits seventh in the world standings and is making his way to his fifth qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. In addition, he sits No. 2 in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association standings, so he’s in line to make both finales.

“This is as good as I’ve ever ridden in my whole career,” said Vezain, has placed four times in Lovington since 2011, including winning the championship in 2014. “I just keep learning little tricks as I go along. I broke my back in 2015, and that humbled me quite a bit and made me readjust my goals and start working a little harder.

“I’m here to use this platform to glorify God, and He’s blessed me with the tools and talents to be one of the best and ready to get that gold buckle. I started working at it, and I feel like I’m inching my way there.”

A key piece of his success has come in the horses he has been riding. By drawing top-flight animals, he’s been able to showcase his strong spurring motion; that, in turn, shows the judges just how well he’s handling his business, and the points turn into big-time dollars.

That’s exactly what he’s hoping for with his experience on Painted River, an 8-year-old mare that was raised on the Carr ranch in Athens, Texas.

“That’s one of Pete’s better horses, and the proof’s in the pudding,” he said. “She’s flashy and one you can win on. I didn’t want to get off after the buzzer. She was fun to be on.”

Electric horses are bareback riders’ dreams. They jump high in the air and allow the cowboys to show their spurring motions.

“We work hard from the beginning of the year to the end of the year to make the finals,” Vezain said. “I believe luck is where preparation and opportunity meet. When you have an opportunity like that horse, it gives you the ability to capitalize. That’s the horses that’s going to give you the opportunity to do that all day long.”

Lea County Fair and Rodeo
Lovington, N.M.
Aug. 9-12

Bareback riding leaders: 1. J.R. Vezain, 87 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Painted River; 2. Evan Jayne, 82; 3. (tie) Jordan Pelton and Richmond Champion, 81; 5. Grant Denny, 78; no other qualified rides.

Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Cody Cabral, 3.5 seconds; 2. K.C. Jones, 3.7; 3. Billy Bugenig, 4.1; 4. Jacob Shofner, 4.4; 5. Blake Knowles, 4.9; 6. Josh Peek, 5.3; Second round leaders: 1. Mike McGinn, 4.0 seconds; 2. Jacob Shofner, 4.3; 3. Cody Cabral, 4.5; 4. Jesse Brown, 5.0; 5. Blake Knowles, 5.6; 6. Billy Bugenig, 11.6. Average leaders: 1. Cody Cabral, 8.0 seconds on two runs; 2. Jacob Shofner, 8.7; 3. Blake Knowles, 10.5; 4. Jesse Brown, 15.5; 5. Billy Bugenig, 15.7; 6. Josh Peek, 20.1.

Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Shank Edwards, 8.4 seconds; 2. Tuf Cooper, 9.0; 3. Tyler Milligan, 9.6; 4. Matt Kenney, 10.3; 5. J.D. McCuistion, 10.5; 6. Josh Peek, 10.8. Second round leaders: 1. Timber Moore, 7.6 seconds; 2. J.D. McCuistion, 9.0; 3. Josh Peek, 9.6; 4. Cody Jordan, 9.9; 5. Shank Edwards, 10.0; 6. Tyler Milligan, 10.7. Average leaders: 1. Shank Edwards, 18.4 seconds on two runs; 2. J.D. McCuistion, 19.5; 3. Timber Moore, 19.6; 4. Tyler Milligan, 20.3; 5. Josh Peek, 20.4; 6. Tuf Cooper, 21.1.

Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Hardy Braden, 82.5 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Gold Coast; 2. Will Smith, 80; 3. Cameron Misser, 78; 4. Cooper DeWitt, 60; no other qualified rides.

Steer roping: First round leaders: 1. Brian Garr, 10.8 seconds; 2. Trevor Brazile, 12.1; 3. Tuf Cooper, 12.4; 4. Chad Mathis, 17.9; 5. Chance Kelton, 18.6; 6. Quay Howard, 23.7. Second round leaders: 1. (tie) Cody Lee and Tuf Cooper, 10.5 seconds; 3. Brian Garr, 11.3; 4. Chance Kelton, 12.0; 5. Trevor Brazile, 13.4; 6. Brent Lewis, 15.1. Third round leaders: 1. Trevor Brazile, 9.4 seconds; 2. Cody Lee, 11.2; 3. Brent Lewis, 11.3; 4. Brian Garr, 13.2; 5. Chad Mathis, 21.1; no other qualified times. Average leaders: 1. Trevor Brazile, 34.9 seconds on three runs; 2. Brian Garr, 35.3; 3. Cody Lee, 21.7 seconds on two runs; 4. Tuf Cooper, 22.9; 5. Brent Lewis, 26.4; 6. Chance Kelton, 30.8.

Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Nelson Wyatt/Trace Porter, 5.5 seconds; 2. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 5.8; 3. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 7.0; 4. Bobby Boyd/Bubba Paul, 7.9; 5. Lane Ivy/Buddy Hawkins II, 10.5; 6. Ryan Hutton/Chase Hansen, 12.4. Second round leaders: 1. Nelson Wyatt/Trace Porter, 5.6 seconds; 2. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 6.5; 3. Chase Massengill/Daylan Frost, 14.3 seconds; no other qualified times. Average leaders: 1. Nelson Wyatt/Trace Porter, 11.1 seconds on two runs; 2. Luke Brown/Jake Long, 13.5; 3. Trevor Brazile/Patrick Smith, 5.8 seconds on one run; 4. Bobby Boyd/Bubba Paul, 7.9; 5. Lane Ivy/Buddy Hawkins II, 10.5; 6. Ryne Hutton/Chase Hansen, 12.4.

Barrel racing leaders: 1. Jana Bean, 17.56 seconds; 2. Delani Wood, 17.80; 3. (tie) Aimee Kay and Jasarra Baca, 17.83; 5. Tillar Murray, 17.84; 6. Blyth Beshears, 22.71; 7. Jean Winters, 24.41; no other qualified runs.

Bull riding leaders: 1. Brennon Eldred, 86 points on Salt River Rodeo’s 419; 2. Elliott Jacoby, 85; 3. Tim Bingham, 72; no qualified rides.

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