Meet the January 2024 Horse of the Month


19 year old gelding

Breeding: Barrel-racing bred | Darkelly & Bully Bullion 

Owner: Dirk Tavenner

If you've tuned into watch a National Finals Rodeo (NFR) Performance the past few years, you've probably seen Oscar, a bay gelding owned by 3x NFR Steer Wrestler Dirk Tavenner.

We're delighted to have Dirk share Oscar's story with us:

Oscar was an ex-barrel horse that needed a new gig in life. In 2012, a family friend reached out and told me about Oscar’s ability to fly, so I thought he was worth a shot. Introducing him to Steer Wrestling was definitely rocky at first. We call him "Oscar the Grouch" because he was, and is, a little stubborn and strong-willed. He likes attention when he wants attention, but is ornery when he doesn’t - meaning it took time and patience to get him to where he is today.

Oscar is highly resilient and has a lot of grit. He truly loves running steers. I always thought it was a strong possibility that he would be a horse that goes all the way to the NFR, because I knew he loved to go fast. I knew the NFR would be a fit for him if I could get him consistent. We had our moments and trials but it clicked and he became what he is today. 

Throughout Oscar’s career he had several obstacles that he had to overcome, including in 2015 we thought he bowed a tendon, requiring time off. One of our biggest scares was In 2020. Oscar broke his leg and we were praying to keep him with us let alone keep him competitive. Then in 2021, he got super sick and I wasn’t able to ride him the entire winter. Oscar has a mystery stomach issue that has challenged him the last few years, confusing and being a mystery for vets across the country. It causes him really bad stomach aches that make it seem like he is severely collicing - it has been a mystery for vets that have helped all across the country. Oscar continues to show his resilience through all of the past obstacles. 

Steer Wrestling has two horses, the Bull-Dogging horse and the Hazing horse. Oscar is the Bull-Dogging horse, meaning he is the horse the Steer Wrestler rides. When deciding whether I want to run Oscar, I consider both the Steer and the time. When the start is fast and steers are stronger he will always be my go to. That said, he’s a little too strong on some of the weaker steers.  

In Steer Wrestling sometimes your horse will be used for several runs. When deciding is someone is able to ride Oscar they must be experienced and know how to use their legs. Oscar the grouch comes out if they start picking at him or are doing too much of something. They have to be willing to ride him the way he needs or they will clash.  This past year at the 2023 NFR I let Stan Branco use Oscar as his Bull-Dogging horse. I was okay with this because I knew Stan would ride him well and his ride was not going to affect my run with him. Oscar really excels in the NFR setting, so I was happy to let Stan ride him. 

Oscar has carried me to some of the biggest wins in my career & I am truly blessed and thankful to have him.