At the top of their game | TSLN.com

At the top of their game

Clay Ashurst, Redbird, Wyoming, and his big bay Tebow couldn't be beat in the calf roping at Rockn’ Western Rendezvous at The Ranch, Loveland, Colorado, June 4. In the three rounds the pair competed in, they were undefeated. Photo courtesy of Erin Christine Photography

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…

Tebow has belonged to Clay and Lexie Ashurst, of Lusk, Wyoming, two times. And they don't feel a bit foolish about it. They purchased the big bay horse as a four-year-old in 2011 and sold him the fall of 2012. The pair were reunited last fall and have seen success in Top Hand Competitions since.

"We originally bought him from Debbie Lagan, in southern Colorado," Clay said. "On the way back from WRCA Finals in Amarillo, Texas, I had called Debbie and told her I was going to sell him and she thought she wanted to buy him back." Clay sold Tebow only after using him at Finals.

Lagan owned the horse again until last fall, when the Ashurst bought Tebow back.

“I think that he’ll probably end up sticking around. With the boys getting older, we can’t have as many green horses around. Eventually our son Miles will be able to ride him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Clay sells him eventually, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up staying. Lexie Ashurst, Clay’s wife

"He was my favorite horse to ranch rodeo on," Clay said. "I suppose I always thought I should have kept him, but that's not what I do. Debbie called and said she didn't use him that much. She like branding on him but he was a bit too much horse outside and she didn't want to take him to a sale. She asked if I wanted him and priced him to me quite reasonably."

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The Ashursts run a string of good looking, mostly registered quarter horses, and Tebow doesn't necessarily fit the bill; though he has earned his position in the Ashurst herd.

"Clay has always been of the belief that a good horse is a good horse whether registered or not," Lexie said. "It would be fun if we could have him registered just because of some of the stuff they do at AQHA. I'm hoping that can happen."

Upon picking up Tebow for the second time, Lexie had trepidations.

"When I picked him up, it was the dead of winter and he had rubbed his mane out," Lexie said. "He is pretty big anyway, but he's not pretty when fat. He's one of those horses the bigger he gets, the uglier he gets, so when I picked him up I called Clay and asked, 'Are you sure? Are you really sure?' Then after I rode him to check heifers, I told him, 'I take back all the bad things I said.'"

Clay and Tebow were invited to two top hand competitions thus far in the ranch rodeo season.

Rockn' Western Rendezvous featured its inaugural Top Hand Competition June 4 in conjunction with its ranch rodeo at The Ranch in Loveland, Colorado. Clay tied for first with Chris Potter, with the tie breaker event being the penning, in which Potter placed higher.

Clay landed second again in his second top hand competition, Colorado Championship Ranch Rodeo, June 24 and 25, in Hugo, Colorado.

Tebow, the "darn fine cow horse in a big ugly package," as Clay describes him, helped secure the Top Hand Award of the ranch rodeo.

"I thanked the judge and told him I thought there were other people that deserved it more," Clay said. "The judge said, 'I liked your horse better than you, but you were just good enough.' It didn't offend me in the least; I took it as a compliment."

Each top hand competition featured three individual events: freestyle reining and cow working, penning, and calf roping.

In the freestyle reining pattern, contestants were judged on their ability to change leads, do large, fast and small, slow circles, stop and roll back both directions, stop and back up and spin.

"We then had to box a cow and fence it both directions and rope it," Clay said. "In the dry work, I had never really loped him in a circle in the right lead until about three weeks before the competitions. I felt like he showed really good. As for the cow working, that's just his thing."

The team scored 212 and 219, respectively, and fourth places in the long and short rounds at RWR and tied for third at CCRR with a 238.

Penning in Loveland consisted of cutting out one steer and consequently penning it. In Hugo, two cattle needed to be cut and corralled.

"Sorting was fun but kind of anticlimactic. Everybody got along pretty good except one guy who had back luck. Fine event," Clay said.

At RWR, Clay and Tebow landed third in both rounds of penning, and in Hugo's solo round of penning, placed fifth.

The final event and Clay's favorite was calf roping in which he and Tebow swept the board.

"In calf roping, you can sort a cow and calf or calf itself through gate, rope it and tie it down," Clay said.

Tebow has proven that purchasing back the bay was worth it.

"He worked really good in the penning and outstanding in the calf roping," Clay said. "In the short round at Loveland, I ran my rope strap over my spur, so I had my right foot tied up and couldn't get away from him. He let me hang off the side of him for 15 seconds and didn't drag me to death. That was nice of him."

The Ashursts are excited to spend the summer with their favorite bay gelding.

"Tebow's my number one ranch rodeo horse. Hopefully I get to use him all summer," Clay said. "His only other job is to be Lexie's mount whenever she feels like roping or riding with me."

"Tebow is fun to ride, although sometimes he makes me grab the horn and squeal when he moves on a cow," Lexie said. "Clay always tells me, 'Don't feel bad, he makes me do the same thing.'"

The Ashurst have no immediate plans to sell Tebow again, but nothing is set in stone.

"I think that he'll probably end up sticking around. With the boys getting older, we can't have as many green horses around," Lexie said. "Eventually our son Miles will be able to ride him. I wouldn't be surprised if Clay sells him eventually, but I also wouldn't be surprised if he ends up staying."

Clay and Lexie work for Four Three Land and Cattle and Clay ranch rodeos on the Four Three/FX Bar Ranch Team.

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