Home field advantage

Dale Yerigan is in for a very busy weekend. But he’s used to it.

The 11-time steer wrestling world champion, just back from a swing through Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, will compete in the Ottawa County Rodeo during Friday’s opening go-round.

He will ride at Carthage, Mo., on Thursday, compete here Friday then enter a rodeo at Chickasha Saturday morning.

His busy weekend will be capped Saturday night at Pauls Valley.

“Miami is one of the closer ones,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to drive an hour or so and come back home and sleep in your own bed.”

Last week, he went from Mountain Home, Ark., to Milwaukee to Lowell, Ind., and then to Esconaba, Mich.

Cowboys, like those who spend lots of time on the road, have taken a big hit in the wallet due to the high gas prices.

“The further north and east we went, the worse the prices got,” Yerigan said. “We paid $1.64 a gallon for diesel and gas was $2.10 a gallon.”

Yerigan said he will usually enter 100 rodeos a year and will travel over 100,000 miles. And that’s without a sponsorship that is so prevalent in other sports now.

“I’m pretty much doing it all myself,” he said. “I have a trailer sponsorship this year (Sundowner Trailers has given him a four-horse trailer). Other than that, I foot all the bills myself.

“That is the unique thing about rodeo. But there are more sponsors involved and making deals.”

Unlike other sports which guarantee the contestants a payoff, rodeo doesn’t. You must place to earn a check.

“But it makes you wonder about the other sports,” Yerigan said. “You wonder if they put out every night when they know they are going to get a paycheck. In rodeo, everyone does because if you don’t, you won’t get anything.”

Yerigan has won nine straight world titles — the longest in IPRA history. His first title came in 1985.

“I still like to compete... it’s still a thrill,” he said. “A lot of them get tired of being away from their families so much, but my wife and son travel with me.”

He met his wife, Kathy, at IFR18 in Tulsa. She finished seventh in the world standings in barrel racing last year.

Dale Yerigan is currently eighth overall in steer wrestling with $4,927.76 in earnings. Clark McGuire is the leader at $9,044.40.

“I am a little disappointed because it’s been a slow start,” he said. “But I have been doing it long enough to know there are a lot of ups and downs. Hopefully I will pick it up because really we are just halfway there as far as what time of year it is.”

He said July and August are the busiest months for rodeos.

“I’ve been really fortunate. Sometimes you have years like this,” Yerigan said. “It’s not like I have had a terrible year, but people expect me to be further up (in the standings) and I expect myself to be further up. But my eye is on the big picture and what is at the end of the year.”

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