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RODEO: Steer wrestling not just for the boys: Ashley Fulps competes as NPRA's lone hazer

GRAND RONDE -- Talk about pressure. At the first Northwest Professional Rodeo Association event of the year in Elma, Wash., the announcer let the entire crowd know what event was up next, but he was mistaken, on at least one fact.

Ashley Fulps, left, works as the hazer while her partner, Patrick Flory, prepares to drop down as the bulldogger in Sunday's steer wrestling competition in Grand Ronde.

Photo by Nicole Watkins

Ashley Fulps, left, works as the hazer while her partner, Patrick Flory, prepares to drop down as the bulldogger in Sunday's steer wrestling competition in Grand Ronde.

July 23, 2013

GRAND RONDE -- Talk about pressure.

At the first Northwest Professional Rodeo Association event of the year in Elma, Wash., the announcer let the entire crowd know what event was up next, but he was mistaken, on at least one fact.

"They're like, `All right, it's time for the big boys of rodeo,'" Ashley Fulps said with a laugh, recalling the start of the steer wrestling competition.

"And here comes me on my horse."

Fulps, 26, is the NPRA's lone female "hazer" in the steer wrestling events, but don't let that fool you.

She's good.

"Best hazer in the circuit," her boyfriend and steer wrestling partner, Jake Howell, said with a smile shortly after the pair from Monroe took fifth place at Grand Ronde's Spirit Mountain Stampede Sunday.

"She does good -- my phone's been blowing up, guys calling and wanting her to haze for them."

For those unfamiliar with rodeo events, the hazer is the other half of steer wrestling.

While Howell, the "bulldogger," is the cowboy that drops down from his horse to tackle the steer and bring it down, the hazer works to keep the steer in a straight line and close enough to the bulldogger in order to make a drop.

Justin Chappell, of Redmond, holds on for dear life during the saddle bronc competition Sunday at the Spirit Mountain Stampede Rode in Grand Ronde. He scored a 77 to finish second.

Photo by Nicole Watkins

Justin Chappell, of Redmond, holds on for dear life during the saddle bronc competition Sunday at the Spirit Mountain Stampede Rode in Grand Ronde. He scored a 77 to finish second.

"They say it's the toughest job in rodeo," Fulps said of hazing. "If you don't have a good hazer, lots of times you don't even get down off your horse -- it can make or break a run."

Fulps started hazing just last winter, although her participation was a last resort -- at first.

"I was watching the boys practice and one day (Howell) just didn't have anyone to practice with, and the horse I was riding ended up being a good haze horse.

"There I was, and when we went on our first two runs, they were perfect. Basically, it was from there on out."

Fulps has started to earn the respect of the men around her, too -- she's called on to haze for other cowboys when needed, as well as for fellow partner Patrick Flory, who travels with Howell.

"Most (guys) will cheer you on," she said. "It's just about earning more respect, I guess."

In the barrel racing portion of the rodeo, Dallas resident Sharon Woods earned a spot in the money round with her sixth-place time of 17.74 seconds in Friday's slack events to take home a purse of $206.40.

Perrydale High alum and current Weatherford, Texas, resident Chase Richter also took home some cash from the Grand Ronde rodeo, placing fifth in the tie-down roping event (9.60 seconds) to win $371.52.