Growing up, T. J. Jones knew from an early age he wanted to be a cowboy, a real cowboy. At the age of ten, his […]
On The Trail With Tuker Carricato
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Tuker Carricato has spent his whole life in Saratoga, Wyoming; until last year. This sixth grader’s quest for a championship in the mini bareback riding at the Junior National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas led his family all over the country – he got on 32 horses last year and won 22 of the events he entered. He and his parents (Trisha and Tony) traveled to eight states to get the job done.
His career as a mini bareback rider began by watching a video. His dad, Tony, was a bareback rider from Gunnison, Colorado, who competed in high school, National Little Britches, and college rodeoed in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “I didn’t mind it because of the size of the horses, and the difference between me and Tuker is he’s in shape and I learned the hard way.” Tony bought Tuker his first riggin’ and he started riding with his dad’s advice. He got on his first mini bareback in Rock Springs, Wyoming, riding in the Winter Series put on by Casey Riggs, R and R Rodeo. His first ride was spent trying to think of everything his dad taught him. “I taught him how to hold his feet and how to lift – if they can’t get that down, they will go over the front end. We started with the spur board and Tuker is a natural athlete and picked it up. He’s very strong. Athletics and conditioning is a major part of this.”
Tuker is used to athletics – he plays football, basketball, and wrestles. He also is very active in 4-H, showing sheep, goats, and cattle. He has five goats (boars) and still shows them. He ropes on the ranch all the time. “I don’t have the horses to rope or the equipment to practice, but I would compete if I could.” He also co-owner 20 Suffolk/Hampshire cross sheep with his older brother, Chaze, that they breed for show lambs to show and sell.
His riding career took a huge leap forward when he met Kelly Timberman, World Champion Bareback Rider and 7x NFR qualifier, who now sponsors Tuker. “We pick who we sponsor based on criteria that includes a strong community involvement, grades, personality, and incentive to achieve goals,” said the 2017 Mountain States Circuit Finals Bareback Champion. “When it comes to rodeo, they need to have the incentive to work to purchase their own equipment, travel expenses, etc. Tuker works that off himself – any kid that’s willing to work to get his own equipment shows ambition.” Kelly and his fiancé, Shannon Pearman, have started a program called Champions Go9-oh at their home in Casper, Wyoming. “We are teaching these kids how to be good men – never seeking mediocracy and going for their dreams. We help them go after them, setting up yearly goals and the building blocks of success.” Tuker followed that to a tee – he took time on Sundays to travel to Casper – two and a half hours from his home – to practice. He sent videos to Kelly and asked for advice. “He’s a young man that is very dedicated to his purpose and what he wants.”
Tuker has learned a lot from Kelly. “He teaches me rodeo and stuff like that. He taught me how to respect people – being yourself and not being rude.” Tuker’s family owns Battle Pass Outfitting and Tuker helps spot and retrieve game with his mother. They hunt deer and elk in the mountain range by the ranch where Tuker will spend time in the mornings and evenings looking through a spotting scope and will call his dad if he sees any. Tuker helps pack the archery elk hunters to the wilderness camp by horse back where he helps load pack horses and takes his own string of horses in and out of camp. He can’t wait until he is 18 so he can get a guides license and guide with his dad and oldest brother Chaze. Chaze graduated college from Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City, South Dakota, and Wyatt is a senior at Saratoga high school.
After his first ride in Wyoming, where he missed covering by .25 seconds, he kept getting better and progressing. “My mom researched where the rodeos were and we’d drive there.” He bases his decision on where to go on payouts and entry fees and how far away they. “I have to pay for it – by my winnings.” Tuker has his own checking account and he balances monthly his earnings to his expenses. “I save for entry fees and rodeos. I have two different accounts – one for rodeo and one for fair.” There were lots of long nights and when the family headed to a rodeo and they relied on family to do the chores at home. “My cousin or brother would stay home and take care of my animals.” Tuker shows Maine Angus cross cattle. “They are popular and grow good.” He keeps them in barns where it’s cool and dark.
As the year progressed, his riding continued to improve. “I had a goal to get there (Junior NFR); when I kept winning them all and doing good I kept going. I just practice – my mind and muscle memory.” When Tuker found out the end of August he had made his way back to Vegas for the JR NFR, he checked his books and did some research where to get the best riding chaps, he had his dad call and make an appointment with Tim Bath to go pick out his colors so he would have brand new ones for Vegas. They match his new riggin that he had bought in June. He enjoyed his trip to Vegas for the Junior NFR. “It’s warmer than here. There were lots of people and crowds and big.” He would do it again and he plans to.
This year he is old enough to join the National Junior High Rodeo Association, competing in the bareback steer riding. He plans to continue all his sports, but admits that he would give them up for rodeo. “Rodeo makes me money and I like it better than the other sports,” he said. “I want to be a cowboy when I grow up – not much else. Rodeo and be a world champion bareback rider.”