It’s hard to believe Tyson Durfey was waging a battle with his confidence earlier this year but the tie-down roper who calls Colbert home hits the Spokane Interstate Fair Rodeo this weekend on a fast-climbing roller coaster.
“I had such a hard winter and spring in comparison to years past,” the four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier said. “In the past several years I had ($40,000-50,000 in winnings) at Reno. I knew no matter how bad it got I’d make the NFR.
“This year was completely different. I had $11,000 and I was beginning to wonder if I have what it takes.”
That was in mid-June but it seems much longer ago than that.
“I just stayed strong with my faith in God and made a horse switch,” he said. “It was like a roller-coaster ride that went from the bottom to the top really fast. I just tried to ride that wave.”
Now the 27-year-old, who was juggling stops in Lewiston and Puyallup before hitting home on Saturday, has almost $70,000 after his name, good for seventh place in the PRCA standings, where the top 15 advance to Las Vegas in December to compete for the championship.
Faith was the easy part for Durfey, but changing horses isn’t something a cowboy does lightly, especially when his sorrel quarter horse Bailey helped win about $500,000 over the past three years.
“When I switched and got on TC, I felt a change in my luck,” Durfey said. “As I started winning, my confidence got higher.”
Durfey had ridden TC in the past but this year leased him. He called the 19-year-old black gelding from Brazil a “game changer.”
With his hot streak Durfey slowed down his schedule so he could drive to most rodeos with TC while Bailey rested. Now he’s riding both – Bailey will be in Spokane – which can be difficult.
“It is if you don’t know the horses,” he said. “The two I have now I really, really know. They’re my traveling partners. I go by myself a lot; I know them better than I know most people so it’s easier for me.”
What makes Durfey’s success unusual is that the horses are quite different.
“(TC) isn’t a young horse but he’s really athletic,” Durfey said. “Bailey is a bigger, stronger horse, has a little bit more speed. TC is a lot more compact but he stops faster than Bailey.
“Bailey good in long starts … TC is a lot better on shorter setups where he doesn’t have to stride out and go as far but he stops faster so it speeds my run up.”
Durfey’s struggles started at the NFR last December, which was surprising considering the success he had in 2009.
A year after winning $85,236, the most among tie-down ropers, to vault him to third for the season, Durfey only placed twice in 2010 and tumbled to 13th place in the year-end standings.
“I had a lot of strong calves at the Finals last year, I just couldn’t find my groove,” he said. “I call it finding my zone. I had a really, really hard time for six, eight months trying to find it. Bailey cracked his foot at the NFR, so he was sore. I was sore. We just kept working at it, working at it.
“That just shows that perseverance, that staying hooked, staying focused, pays off in the long run. A lot of times you don’t see the short-term results you want but if you’re willing to stay hooked and do all the right things, it’s going to happen eventually.”