The Helpers

Helping someone else win $100,000 is one of the highest-stress jobs in all of rodeo.
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Helping someone else win $100,000 is one of the highest-stress jobs in all of rodeo.

There’s something about gambling with someone else’s money that’s just a whole lot of fun—unless, of course, you’re gambling with another roper’s chance at $100,000 at the Cinch Timed Event Championship at the Lazy E Arena.

Lazy E Stock Photo Courtesy Andrew Hancock

Lazy E Stock Photo Courtesy Andrew Hancock

The “helpers”—the fearless crew of cowboys who head, heel and haze for the Timed Event competitors—are hand selected by the cowboys themselves for their consistency in high-pressure situations and their willingness to lay it all on the line, as far as team roping is concerned, for their partner. Sometimes, they’re their ProRodeo partners. Sometimes, they’re a long-time, long-trusted friend. Every time, though, the pressure is on.

Perhaps the moment that stands out the most clearly in all of the 1,500 or so runs I’ve seen in my few times covering the Timed Event was when Charly Crawford missed on his first head loop in the final round of the heeling for Trevor Brazile. It was the first year the Timed Event would pay $100,000, and Brazile’s first year back after a brief hiatus. He had a good lead, but not a great lead, and needed to do well in that last round to win it all.

“I was riding a pretty green horse, and he scored good but he was still a little green,” Crawford said. “The steer was peeling off to the right and I kind of quit riding him. I think I split the horns. I needed to take one more swing and get a little bit closer. I didn’t ride very aggressive and wasn’t riding as good as I should of and I took a dumb shot. I ended up coiling up and taking an even dumber shot but I caught. He had a 30 second lead and I cut it down to 5. It was hard, that’s one thing a guy kind of prides himself in—consistency and not being able to crack under pressure.”

Brazile is probably the coolest competitor in the history of rodeo, though, so he didn’t let that run stop him on his route to $100,000, making the miss just a blip on the radar and something they’d eventually joke about.

“He kind of left it for me to tease about, so I pick on myself about it,” Crawford said. “It was one of those things—he makes so many runs he probably doesn’t remember it. If he’s forgotten about it that’s fine with me too.”

Crawford has helped at the Timed Event five times, and has helped Brazile, Clayton Hass and Russell Cardoza.

“I really enjoy it,” Crawford said. “That’s something, when I worked for Tyler Magnus, my job was to turn steers for his clients or people trying horses or at schools. Usually I can get a good start and run up to position and get them turned. It’s not like I have to take any chances. I have a good string of horses I feel confident in going there and riding. I’m a believer in surrounding myself with winners, and you’re there with the best timed event guys in the world. Being around Trevor and watching how good he does and how good Paul David is these last few years, it’s been enjoyable.”