Five-time world steer wrestling champion Luke Branquinho bulldogs with an insulin pump, and his championships made him an athletic role model for diabetics and their families. Although Branquinho has not qualified for the National Finals Rodeo since 2015, Matt Reeves became the newest athletic inspiration for diabetics and their families when Reeves won the steer wrestling average at the 2019 National Finals Rodeo.
Reeves had a 10-head average of 48.4 seconds. Riley Duvall was second in the average at 54.8 seconds on 10 head.
“It may not have been what I wanted when I came here, but this is an unbelievable deal,” Reeves said. “We all want the other buckle, but that’s the second best saddle I’m ever going to get.”
Reeves only placed in four go-rounds at NFR. His time of 4.7 seconds was fifth in the second go, he split third through fifth in the seventh performance with a time of 3.9 seconds, his time of 4.8 seconds in the eighth go-round placed sixth and his final run of 4.0 seconds was also the sixth-place time. His worst time was 6.6 seconds in the sixth go-round, and he had only two other runs requiring more than five seconds.
“I placed on some steers no one placed on,” Reeves said.
Reeves is now 41.
“I wanted to do it a lot quicker than this, but I’ll take it,” he said of winning the NFR average.
The cowboy from Cross Plains, Texas, joined the PRCA in 2003, and the 2019 NFR was his seventh qualification and his first since 2016. Reeves first qualified for NFR in 2007 and also qualified in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2016. He won the second go-round in 2007 and the seventh go-round in 2013. He was fifth in the average in 2013 and third in the average in 2016, and he finished second in the world standings both years. Reeves placed 21st in the 2017 standings and 26th in the 2018 standings.
Reeves entered NFR with 2019 season earnings of $79,490, which placed him 12th in the standings. The first-place average payout of $67,269.23 contributed to $103,641.02 of NFR earnings and brought Reeves’ season earnings to $183,131.24 to place him sixth in the final standings.
The American Quarter Horse Association chose Reeves’ mare Rattle as the Horse of the Year for steer wrestling. Reeves also trained Rattle, who was seventh during NFR, and the 2019 season was Rattle’s second as a PRCA bulldogging horse.
Due to equine health reasons Reeves only rode Rattle for the final six go-rounds of NFR.
“It was just a virus and then she got a little infection,” Reeves said.
Reeves owns both Roy and Rattle. He rode Roy for the first four performances.
“He was good. He didn’t do anything wrong,” Reeves said.
The switch to Rattle gave Roy a rest as well as allowed Reeves to use the horse on which he feels most comfortable.
“She’s just so much fun,” Reeves said. “She just runs so hard.”
The combination of Roy and Rattle gave Reeves the average title.
“The horses were outstanding,” he said.
Reeves said he blames himself rather than Rattle for his Dec. 12 time of 6.6 seconds.
“I made a mistake the sixth round,” he said.
The average championship was Reeves’ first NFR win since he placed first in the go-round six years earlier.
“It is good. That’s the first saddle I’ve won since ‘13,” he said. “It took 24 more steers to do it.”
Kodie Jang, who was from Townsville, Australia, before enrolling at Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas, hazed for Reeves at NFR.
Reeves was 17 when he was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. One of his sponsors is Bacon Bash Texas, which occurs in the Central Texas town of Cranfills Gap and raises money for Type 1 diabetes programs along with a program to provide coats and blankets for people in need.
“It is an unbelievable organization that gives a pile of money,” Reeves said.
Joe Naiman can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.