Austiguy Is Roping Like A Champion
By JOE KUSEK
August 18, 2022
Ian Austiguy acknowledges he is a decade, if not slightly more, older than some of his rodeo peers.
But don’t be quick to slap a label on the Dillon cowboy.
“I wouldn’t quite go veteran status. I’ve still got some youth in me,” declared the 31-year-old Austiguy with a laugh. “It is funny, I look at those young kids, not that long ago I was one of them.”
Young or old, depending on the viewpoint, Austiguy is roping like a champion.
A year ago, Austiguy and partner Sam Levine swept the team roping heading and heeling titles for the Northern Rodeo Association.
“When we won, it was big,” said Austiguy who helps run a ranch along with wife Sonja and son Orin who is almost two. “For me, it was my biggest rodeo accomplishment. I was pretty excited.”
As the Mountain Health Co-Op Tour gears up for the final stretch of the regular season, the pair are again atop the standings.
“It’s great,” said Austiguy of the 2022 season. “That helps when you’re doing good. It sure is easier to enjoy.”
Austiguy and Levine have no wins this summer but a stream of steady checks. The pair have placed second at Wilsall, Ennis, Havre and Eureka and third at Big Timber.
Entering the third weekend of August, Austiguy led former National Finals Rodeo qualifier and former NRA champion Dustin Bird of Cut Bank by $848, while Levine had the same lead over Dillon’s Ike Folsom for the headers.
“I think we’re both pretty easy-going people,” said Austiguy of his partnership with Levine. “Shoot for me, Sam ropes so good.”
Both Austiguy and Levine jumped into the all-around cowboy race at Townsend. Levine won the tie-down roping while Austiguy was third in steer wrestling.
Austiguy admits he and Levine had opened-ended plans at the start of the Mountain Health Co-Op Tour in June.
“We didn’t have any real goals,” said Austiguy. “We were kind of waiting to see how it goes. We tried to get to the rodeos we could make, the ones that were convenient. We just started with a little bit here and there.”
Austiguy grew up in the Gallatin Valley, graduating from Bozeman High School. He divided his time between hockey in the winter and rodeo in the summer.
“I’ve team roped a long time,” he said.
Entering this summer, Austiguy’s primary concern was seasoning his young horse Tex. Austiguy found the six-year-old sorrel in Texas.
“He’s good,” said the owner. “It’s definitely different from riding a seasoned horse. But he’s taken well to the rodeos with the sounds and the crowds. I didn’t know how he was going to take to everything.”
Austiguy rode Ernie, a nine-year-old sorrel horse to the 2021 title. Ernie was selected NRA heading horse of the year by the other team ropers.
“He’s been a little sore lately,” Austiguy said. “He scores well and is fast and sharp. I hope to start using him by the end of August. He just fits me.”
“For me, it’s more about the horse,” added Austiguy. “Everybody has a lot of horsepower. It’s mainly knowing your horses, being able to get them to work.”
Horsemanship is just one of the challenges facing rodeo competitors.
“There’s a challenge in the rodeo world most people don’t understand,” Austiguy said. “There is a challenge to it. Getting the horses to work, roping, high fuel prices … it’s one challenge after another.”
But he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It is time consuming. That makes it a glorified hobby,” Austiguy said with another chuckle. “I’m a fairly competitive person. That makes it fun when there are so many close races. There are so many good competitors, it’s anybody’s game.”
The Mountain Health Co-Op Tour has one stop this weekend with the Tri-County Fair Rodeo in Deer Lodge.
The Friday performance is 8 p.m. and the rodeo will have an 8 p.m. performance on Saturday.
The Tour shifts into high gear with rodeos at Boulder, Wibaux and Chinook between August 26 and August 28.