Willcox’s Colter Todd is shoeing at the Tucson Rodeo grounds just before team roping slack, which is the sport’s term for early week time trials.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid,” said Todd. “It’s kind of a cowboy setup, so I like it.”

Todd is joined by his roping partner, Derrick Begay, who’s from a reservation north of Winslow.

“This is something we do every day so it’s kind of natural,” said Begay.

Todd is a third generation Cochise County rancher.

“Like a lot of kids, you grow up around something and it becomes your heart’s desire,” said Todd.

Todd is a former Arizona high school roping champion who turned his passion into a professional career. He was considered one of the premier headers in team roping in 2008 when he left life on the road for life with family.

More than a decade later, he returned to the sport, also because of people.

“Friendship,” said Todd. “Begay and I have bee friends for a long time.”

If professional rodeo had a “Comeback Cowboy of the Year,” Todd would have won it. He and Begay won or co-championed ten rodeos in 2023.

On this day, the two-cowboy team was looking for a good time in slack in order to return to the finals on Sunday.

“It’s a real pure sport,” said Begay. “As soon as the gate opens, it’ll tell you if you’ll do well or not.”

It wasn’t their day. On the Tucson dirt, the two recorded a no-time. Such is rodeo life.

“The sport has highs and lows,” said Todd. “It can change like that.”

It’s off to the next rodeo. Todd and Begay are likely to be back next year.

“The Bible says you have enough worries today,” said Todd. “Don’t worry about tomorrow. So, I’m not worried about it. I’m not thinking about it too much.”