On their way to try a 3-year-old gelding, Coleman Proctor’s dad gave him these instructions:
“Listen, son, we’re going to go look at this horse. I don’t want you saying that we have to have him. I don’t want you saying that you love him, because you don’t love him and we don’t have to have him.”
They were looking for a new horse to replace the horse Proctor had learned to rope on, but had lost in his dad’s divorce settlement. “That just broke my heart as a little kid,” Proctor said.
“My dad promised me—I’ll never forget it—that he’d buy me a better one.”
Proctor was only 12 years old, and after riding the new prospect named Dude Booger Bear for as long as they would let him, Proctor’s dad waved him over and asked what he thought. In front of the current owners, Proctor said, “Dad, I love him. We have to have him!”
He remembers the bay roan being a great match from the beginning.
“He was my size—I was a little kid and he was little,” Proctor said.
He was so little—about 14.1 hands—that Proctor’s dad was unsure if he had made a good purchase.
“We leave there and my dad said, ‘Son, we either just bought a really expensive pony, or a real cheap horse.’”
Proctor had just gotten out of school for the summer, and “Booger” became his only form of transportation.
“Every day I would ride him down to this little convenience store about a mile from my house. I’d tie him up to the swing set and get him a bucket of water, and then I go in and get a couple of cheeseburgers. Then I’d ride him home later.”
And as you can imagine, those rides home on the back roads near Miami, Okla., involved reenacting lots of Lonesome Dove scenes. Proctor also started roping the dummy, lead steer and donkey on him; and 30 days later, they went to their first junior rodeo. “He turned 4 June 24 in Welch, Okla., at his first kid rodeo, and he hasn’t been out of the trailer since really,” Proctor said.
In fact, Proctor won his first rodeo buckle on Booger, heeling for Jake Long,
“And my first two NFR buckles are heading for Jake on Booger,” Proctor said. “It’s neat for me because that horse and I grew up together from the time I was 12. Literally we’ve been everywhere together.”
Booger is now 21 years old (Proctor jokes that he wants the extra six months so he goes by his actual birthday rather than Jan. 1.), so he wasn’t planning to take him to Las Vegas this year.
“When it got time to leave, I couldn’t help but load him,” the two-time WNFR qualifier said. “I hadn’t even ran a steer on him. The only time I had actually rode him was when he got out in the yard while I was home and I jumped on him bareback and rode him back to the barn.”
Proctor had only ridden him at two ProRodeos in 2015—Rapid City and Omaha. Like Proctor has come to expect, Booger answered when he decided to get on him part way through the WNFR, and they were 4.0 to split the win in round five.
“He’s going to do whatever it takes to get his job done. To me, that’s what makes him such a winner,” Proctor said. “I haven’t starved thanks to him. If I was broke and had to win, he was always the one I would get on.”
And it isn’t just the team roping where Booger has pulled through.
“I’ll never forget, I was broke and needing to get back home,” Proctor said of a time in Weatherford, Texas, at a college rodeo. “I had made it back in the calf roping. I ran one half way and was 9.6 putting two wraps on him. He was always that horse you could rely on. If I needed to win, he was the one I got on.”
If that’s not impressive enough, Jerome Schneeberger was high call back in Pendleton on Booger in the tie-down roping the same year Proctor won the George Strait Classic heading on him.
“We’ve done everything on that horse. I’ve hazed on him in the bulldogging in college, and I will say, my bulldogger won the region so I think I was the Central Plains Region Champion Hazer. I always joke about that,” Proctor laughed. “I’ve headed on him, heeled on him, roped calves on him, hazed on him, they’ve breakaway roped on him and ran barrels on him. He’s pretty good in the poles. That horse is just a winner. No matter what he’s doing, he’s going to absolutely give his all.”
Despite how user-friendly Booger is, he isn’t too friendly when it comes to his personality.
“He’s grouchy, very grouchy. Grumpy old man is what I call him. He’s always been that way,” Proctor said.
One of his best qualities is being lucky whether it comes to helping Proctor draw better or get out clean.
“He will sneak me out of the barrier even when I think I’m way too early. I joke that if I would have rode him at The American last year, he would’ve got me out for $100,000. And he draws good. That’s one thing people always say is Booger draws good.”
After riding him at the Junior High Finals, High School Finals, College Finals and the National Finals Rodeo, Proctor has reason to compliment his long-time equine partner.
“I know I’ll never have a better one. I have horses that might be more athletic or might be better in other situations, but I know deep down in the bottom of my heart, that’s going to be the best horse I’ve ever had in my life. He’s the one I’m most proud of, and I think a lot of that just comes from how long we’ve been together. We just have such a bond together—we’ve been together for so many miles.”
It turns out, Proctor’s dad kept his promise and did get him a better horse…and Proctor said the $3,000 his dad spent ended up being the bargain they’d hoped for.
“When we were at the Finals this year, I told my dad ‘Thank you for buying a really cheap horse,’” Proctor said with a smile.
Proctor hopes he doesn’t have to pull Booger out of the pasture this year, but said, “I know he’s always there if I need him.”
Booger by Coleman Proctor
Feed: Total Equine, alfalfa and turned out on grass
Bit:Anything…sometimes a little sliding chain gag
Saddle Pad: CSI
Leg Gear: Iconoclast
Other: Soft Ride Boots and Back On Track blanket and wraps
Vet Therapies: Coffin joints injected as needed