Olathe’s Ramsey wrestles way into rodeo state finals at fairgrounds

Five-year-old Austin Haire of Grand Junction clings to the back of a sheep as it leaves the gate Friday night during the mutton-busting competition at the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association’s annual finals at the Mesa County Fairgrounds. Austin held on for a score of 68. The rodeo continues today and Sunday.

Tuff Ramsey is tough. No kidding.

He’s also the perfect balance of recklessness and fearlessness required to dismount a sprinting horse, an almost five-foot drop, onto the horns of a sprinting steer.

Ramsey is a steer wrestler, also known as a bulldogger, and he was the top finisher in steer wrestling for Day 1 of the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association State Finals at the Mesa County Fairgrounds on Friday night. Ramsey punched his ticket to the finals by being one of 12 top earners across Colorado.

Ramsey entered the finals ranked eighth in total earnings, but the Olathe cowboy torqued the steer flat to the ground in 5.7 seconds to capture the first spot. The strong Day 1 finish allows him momentum to earn more money on the weekend, even though Dan Cathcart of Carpenter, Wyo. is more than $1,200 ahead in total earnings and likely will capture the overall steer wrestling title.

“Being in Grand Junction, it makes it a lot cheaper,” Ramsey said. “I can go home and sleep in my own bed and get some good rest while still having a good time here. It was $270 to enter, and driving down here with the trailer, it’s not about the money.

“It’s an adrenaline rush mostly. I’ve been doing it long enough that I don’t really notice it, but when you have a good horse and a good hazer it’s pretty easy.”

A hazer is a second rider who positions her horse to force the steer to run straight, making it an easy target to catch. For Ramsey, the hazer is his wife, Gina. The bulldogger comes out of the header box, to the left of the steer and the hazer comes out of the heeler box on the right side of the steer. The boxes are named for their traditional positions in team roping. A good hazer can make or break a ride, according to Ramsey, and his connection with his wife allows them an advantage. Her riding allows him the perfect angle to jump off the horse.

“She holds it straight, and I grab the horns, and when they turn back I hook the nose until the steer falls over,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey and his wife also competed in mixed roping, where a man and a woman rider compete in traditional steer roping, but they didn’t qualify for the state finals. 

“I’ve done rodeo my whole life, but a year ago I got married to Gina,” Ramsey said. “It’s amazing being able to rope together and go to rodeos, and no matter how you do, you get to go home with your wife. That makes it fun for me.

“Well, as a couple we’d normally have an advantage, but she has to rope with me. I don’t rope too good. We have a lot of conversations about it, but she’s been nice about it.”

Day 2 of the rodeo allows competitors across each event a second chance to earn money heading into Sunday. The top earner across the season will be crowned on Sunday, as well as the highest total and average earning for the weekend.


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