It was a case of deja vu that Ashland steer wrestler Jule Hazen didn't want to relive; but it happened again in less than five seconds.
Body type J: Hazen was in a prime position of winning the National Finals Rodeo and the ProRodeo Cowboys Association world title in his craft after five performances of the 10-night event at the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas. He had a steer that had stopped after coming out of the chute, so the bulldogger decided to wait for a split moment before going after the animal.
Body type J: Animals are unpredictable and the steer left immediately and Hazen wasn't able to catch the steer, which resulted in a no time and the end of chances to win either lofty goal. It was the same misfortune Hazen had in 2007.
Body type J: “It was a good feeling because my horse was working good and the steers were where they needed to be. Everything was all good,” Hazen said. “We had a gameplan and, if anything, overthought it because the steer didn't stop. That's what happens with huge farm animals sometimes, and it's unforgiving in that little arena.
Body type J: “It was probably just like the first time where if I don't miss that steer, then I would have won the World (title).”
Body type J: Hazen still thinks of his grandfather, Richard Deegan, who taught him the skills of steer wrestling to his grandson. Deegan died between the Thursday slack and the second performance of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo; but Hazen, who had a good time in the Thursday slack and returned that night to compete, got to see his grandfather in between the two runs before Deegan passed away.
Body type J: Hazen placed a 'lucky charm' under his hat during the NFR in a small tribute to his grandfather.
Body type J: “He always would flutter the local barber with dollar bills,” Hazen said. “If the bill, depending on the call, came up heads or tails, he would have to pay him double the haircut or get it free.
Body type J: “When my grandfather passed away, the barber sent an arraignment full of dollar bills. Grandmother gave all the grandkids the dollar bills and I stick mine in my hat. I have always loved his words of wisdom.”
Body type J: Hazen is already working hard for the start of 2014. He said his immediate goal is much more simpler.
Body type J: “My major goal right now is to win a check,” Hazen said. “We all start back at zero and you have to take it one steer at a time, just like the old cliche. A rodeo is more like a marathon because it goes the whole year. It's a long grind with driving and keeping your horses fed Hazen spent New Year's Eve afternoon working with his horse, Bam Bam, for some practice at his ranch.
Page 2 of 2 - Body type J: “All I've ever wanted to do was compete in the NFR and it's my dream; so every morning when you wake up when you're competing there, you pinch yourself so you realize it's not a dream,” he said.
Body type J: Hazen said it takes both the wrestler and the horse to work in tandem for a good time in the arena to win paychecks by beating the competition. He also said that competitors must be very aggressive to succeed in the sport.
Body type J: “The horse maybe more important,” Hazen said. “I don't know what percentage of winning of horsepower it is to win, but I'd personally say 60 to 70 percent depends on the horse. It's something that takes a lot of practice.
Body type J: “The tough part about bulldoging is that when you are learning through practice, you take wrecks like football players have never seen. You ride a horse going 40 miles per hour and then you jump off and tackle a large farm animal that weighs more than 600 pounds. In those 10 days in Vegas, I could be in better shape, but you get so sore because it's very physical.”
Body type J: Two other things most rodeo participants need is money and family that support you.
Body type J: Hazen found a couple of sponsors in Boot Hill Casino and Logan's Western Wear, who help pay for his fuel and some other expenses, while his family has always been supportive in a number of ways while he's gone on the road for prolonged periods of time as he competes.
Body type J: “My grandmother and my mom and dad have helped me practice, and they help us while I'm gone by taking care of the calves so we have other income,” Hazen said. “What is also tremendous is before the sponsorship, we didn't have any other income other from what I won at the rodeo and what we have done here at the home. It's really stressful and it takes everybody for me to live my dream. I tremendously appreciate all of them.”