Jun. 11—CHEYENNE — Cauy Pokorny started looking for a horse during the fall portion of Laramie County Community College's rodeo season.
The aging team roping horse he was riding was frequently too sore in the front legs to perform the way Pokorny needed him to during steer wrestling runs.
The 20-year-old from Thedford, Nebraska, was home for Thanksgiving Break when he decided to check out a horse he was told would be perfect for him. He couldn't get to where the horse was until dusk.
The available daylight — or lack thereof — didn't matter. The tandem had instant chemistry on their test runs together.
"I thought, 'If I can catch two steers on him in the black of night, I should be able to catch them anywhere else,'" Pokorny said with a laugh.
Pokorny brought the blaze-faced sorrel horse back to Cheyenne with him and became a force in the Central Rocky Mountain Region this spring. He won two of the six rodeos on the spring schedule, and was runner-up at two others. He won the CRMR championship and qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo.
Pokorny will make his first two runs at the college finals Monday and Tuesday morning. His third run will come during June 18's main performance.
Pokorny was the model of consistency this season, placing in the top three at six of 10 rodeos this season.
"He backed into the corner at every rodeo and took care of business," LCCC coach Seth Glause said. "He is trying to win every rodeo he enters, and doesn't let the pressure phase him. He has such a great attitude."
Rodeo athletes often say the majority of their run is decided by the horse underneath them. Pokorny is no different and says the horse he named Joe is a big reason he is competing on the biggest stage in college rodeo.
"He runs pretty good, and is honest in the box," Pokorny said. "You don't have to fight with him in the box too much. He gives you a good, honest run every time, and makes your job easy.
"Having a horse you can just jump on and win on makes a world of difference. It makes your life so much easier."
Pokorny and Joe's chemistry was apparent to anyone who watched them run this spring.
"You could tell he was really comfortable on his own horse and wasn't having to figure out what to ride every week," Glause said.
Pokorny was in the top five of the CRMR standings entering the spring portion of the season. He did his best to stay relaxed and consistent over the second half of the season.
"I tried to not sweat the small things," he said. "I just tried to not break the barrier and make the best run I could. If it worked out, it worked out. If it didn't, it didn't."
Coaching also helped Pokorny keep a one-run-at-a-time approach. Veteran steer wrestler Dean Finnerty has been on the LCCC coaching staff the past couple seasons, and emphasizes having a steady mental approach.
"He has helped me a pile in bulldogging, but he really helped me with my mental game," said Pokorny, who is majoring in ag production. "Everyone is going to make bad runs, but you can't let them eat at you. You have to move on.
"All of our coaches know the ups and downs of rodeo and they try to help you ride out the highs and not get too lows in the lows. That has really helped."
As much credit as Pokorny wants to give his horse, Glause saw this type of season coming during Pokorny's freshman campaign.
"He was really coming into his own when COVID hit," Glause said. "You knew it was just a matter of time before he figured out what it would take to be successful. He is a natural athlete and gives his best every time.
"We're fortunate we're going to get him back for another year. He's going to finish his degree and chase a national title."
Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.