As Ace Slone roped and tied one in 8.2 seconds for the round win Thursday night Dec. 15, at the 2022 WCRA Cowtown Christmas Championship Rodeo, he did so with some perspective that was a decade in the making.
The Cuero, Texas, cowboy earned $1,600 for the effort, plus an invitation back to the event’s Showdown Round on Saturday Dec. 17.
Slone comes from a family of saddle makers—Slone Saddles to be exact. After rodeoing professionally from 2012 to 2017, Slone took stock of life on the road and decided to head back to South Texas and work in the saddle shop.
“In 2012 I was 14th in the world the last day of the season and ended up getting knocked out by $100,” Slone said. “Instead of learning from that and looking at how to get better, I had a bad attitude about it and went home and pouted about it. Kind of derailed my whole career at that point.”
Slone’s matured outlook on the near miss, now a decade ago, lets him go down the road with things in focus.
“It feels nice to get out of the shop and back on the road a little bit,” Slone said. “I don’t know if I’ll get to do it again for a living or not—anytime I rope now, it just comes with a lot more perspective.”
Joining Slone in Saturday’s Showdown Round is Ellensburg, Washington’s Kass Kayser who finished second in Round 2 on Thursday night. Kayser stopped the clock at 8.91 to earn $1,200 and join the top two calf ropers from each go-round—six total—who will compete against the WCRA’s No. 1 calf roper Shad Mayfield for a chance to advance to the three-person finals.
The payout? A guaranteed $15,000 to the winner on Saturday night.
Thank God for “Preacher”
Astride Jason Timmerman’s stout gelding “Preacher,” Slone went through the well-practiced motions of catching, flanking and tying his “big” calf.
“The biggest thing we were fortunate enough to do is be really good on the barrier,” Slone explained. “I felt like I had a little quicker and easier throw than most of the guys. For me, it’s always been the scoring and roping part that’s been hard. So, I almost breathe a sigh of relief and start thinking about what’s for dinner after that. Because the rest is just going through the motions.”
Slone credits his horsepower and Preacher for his ability to stay competitive.
“Preacher has made all the difference,” Slone said.
The pair finished third in the Gold Medal Round at the WCRA’s Utah Days of Rodeo in Salt Lake City in July 2022, earning $7,000. Slone hopes to continue the momentum they’ve found together.
Back on the Road with WCRA
After tearing a ligament in his knee in 2010, barely missing the NFR in 2012 and stepping out of rodeoing professionally in 2017, Slone points to the WCRA as the reason he’s able to still compete.
“The WCRA is the coolest thing ever,” Slone said. “I qualified for the first one in Chicago [in January 2018] and that was awesome. The only reason I’ve roped at all since 2017 is because of the WCRA. I owe a lot to them. I love it, support it and encourage everyone to [take advantage].”
The WCRA indirectly helped with Slone finding Preacher, too. When the WCRA put on the Corpus Christi, Texas rodeo—just two hours from Cuero—he began calling around for a horse. He was quickly acquainted with the bay gelding, and the rest is history.
Cowtown Christmas Setup
The Cowtown Christmas Championship Rodeo is one of three WCRA Triple Crown of Rodeo events, and pays out more than $360,000 over the four-day event in 2022. It also offers the potential to earn $1 million in the event of a Triple Crown hat trick.
From Dec. 14–16, each event will host 24 contestants total, broken into groups of eight per night. The top two competitors from each of the three nights’ qualifying rounds will then advance to Saturday’s Showdown Round on Dec. 17.
There, the six qualifying go-round riders will compete alongside the No. 1 WCRA-seeded athlete in a battle for a top-three finish. Those top three competitors will then return to the arena Saturday night for the Cowtown Championship Rodeo Finals and a winning check worth $15,000.