When Tyler Waguespack was 2 years old, he wrestled Ollie the Calf: a bright yellow Little Tikes toy horse with blue wheels and horns taped over the ears. As a toddler, Tyler would wait for his dad, Mike -- also a bulldogger -- to come home from work before the two would practice and practice again.
At Wednesday's CINCH Shoot-Out in Fort Madison, Iowa, he'll be dealing with a lot more than an 8-pound piece of colorful plastic.
But Waguespack, the 2016 PRCA world champion steer wrestler, has had no recent trouble dealing with the real thing. When he shows up to the C.E. "Eddie" Richards Arena, the Louisiana native will be in the middle of a hot streak that has seen him claim recent victories at rodeos more than 2,000 miles apart from each other.
In March, Waguespack grabbed first place in the championship shootout at RodeoHouston with a time of 4.7 seconds. He earned more than $50,000 in the Lone Star State in what was a jam-packed steer wrestling event with fellow bulldoggers Kyle Irwin, Trevor Knowles, and Tyler Pearson.
A few months later, Waguespack traveled north -- very far north, to Calgary, Alberta -- for another win. On July 16, Waguespack posted two times under four seconds to beat Cody Cassidy -- a mere 0.2 behind for second place -- Stockton Graves, and Riley Duvall. In the end, the 2016 world champion continued his string of big earnings with a check of $100,000.
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It seems like no matter where the bulldogger goes, he earns another "champion" title. Waguespack hasn't buckled under the pressure of winning the 2016 PRCA world championship in Las Vegas. Instead, he's just won more buckles -- whether in Canada or Texas or anywhere else that offers bulldogging. At the moment, Waguespack sits third in year earnings behind Pearson -- whom he defeated in Houston -- and Ty Erickson.
Waguespack attributes much of his success to his father. In a June interview with Baton Rouge CBS affiliate WAFB, he spoke about the familial nature of the business and his recipe for success.
"I wanted to be like him or better than him," Waguespack said of his father. "If I worked hard enough, he did whatever it took to make me that way."
In the interview, Tyler remembers his early days shoeing horses -- something he didn't enjoy. He told Mike, his dad, that he needed to keep practicing so he could stay out on the road.
Watch Tyler with a 4.1 in the 2016 Calgary Stampede:
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"When we started Tyler he was small," Mike said. "He's still small compared to most of these guys he competes against. I told him then, 'We're going to teach you small, but you can't cut any corners. You have to do it right.'"
The road to being a world champion isn't easy, and Tyler hasn't shied away from that struggle. Nobody knows that better than his dad, who traveled with his son for the first couple years on the professional circuit, hazing for Tyler.
But eventually, Tyler needed some independence. After a while, it was time to "turn him loose," Mike said.
Through it all, the foundation has remained the same: practice, practice, practice.
"We practice harder than anybody," Tyler said.
His father echoed the sentiment.
"I've been around a lot of bulldoggers, a lot of people that rodeo, and I've never been around anybody that practices as much as Tyler does," Mike said.
Like father, like son.
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