National Western Stock Show & Rodeo qualifying goes Pharr better than expected
DENVER – It’s true that Doug Pharr’s love affair with rodeo has cooled a bit, practicality in the form of a 9-to-5 job giving way to passion. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking the veteran tie-down roper doesn’t still get the itch to compete at the highest level, especially if he gets a little encouragement.
Case in point? Pharr had entered the Jan. 1-3 qualifying segment of the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo only so that he might bank enough to earn a spot in San Antonio next month. He wasn’t planning to come back to the Denver Coliseum for the Jan. 12-22 main event no matter what happened.
Of course, all of that changed when he won the second round of the qualifier in 7.8 seconds and the two-head average in 16.5 seconds for total earnings of $4,093.
“Yeah, I’ll go back (to Denver) and see what I can do,” Pharr said. “It’s easy to fly back there and I know I can get on Justin Scofield’s sorrel, which is a real nice horse.
“If I could put together a couple of good rounds here or in San Antonio, have a strong winter, I figure I could be talked into staying out on the road more.”
The difference for Pharr, who turns 36 on Jan. 29, is that he is no longer focusing his life on rodeo. He sold his primary competition horse a couple of years ago to Jade Conner and has been working as a project manager for Roofing Restorations of America (RRSA) of Waxahachie, TX, since the fall of 2010.
Pharr went from a hard-charger, a guy who qualified for the Wrangler NFR four times between 2000 and 2008, to a part-time circuit cowboy. A year ago he competed in just 23 PRCA rodeos, 21 of those in the Southeastern Circuit, and had official season earnings of $3,948 – less than he won in this one day in Denver.
“When I was younger, you couldn’t have paid me $1 million to stop rodeoing because my passion for the sport was so great,” Pharr said. “As you get older, your views change a little bit. I’ve been to four NFRs. I know how hard it is to do and what you have to sacrifice to keep going.
“When you have $4 gallon fuel to go down the road, plus the cost of the rigs and horses … it’s really hard to make a living. There are no 401Ks in rodeo. At some point you have to look to the future. The job I have … the money is better than I thought I’d ever see. I want a family some day and it’s hard to make enough to support a family in rodeo.”
The other advantage of having a good-paying job waiting, Pharr has learned, is that there is “a lot less pressure on me to win. When rodeo is your only source of income it puts pressure on you. I enjoyed (competing at) Denver this year better than I ever have.”
The other event winners at the Denver Coliseum were team ropers Tyler Magnus and Brandon Bates (11.2 seconds on two head) and steer wrestler Chason Floyd (11.5 seconds on two head). The top 40 competitors in each of the three timed events advance to the main event where they will join the 60 contestants already accepted.