With a shove and a lunge the calf broke free, veering left. Ten feet out it crossed the deadline, whereupon the cord attached to its neck tripped open the gate of Oliver's gangway. Two enormous bounds, and Oliver's horse had overtaken the critter. The calf, a smart one, suddenly stopped short, kicked at the horse and then ran up alongside the left fence. Oliver lassoed it cleanly anyway, jerking it off its feet in one fast flip.
As his horse skidded to a halt, Oliver swung wide and gracefully one-handed off his saddle horn. Following down the rope, he picked up the 280-pound calf and flipped it in midair, legs up and ready to tie with the piggin' string. Halfway through the tying, however, the animal managed to lift its head, squirm and kick loose. After a foot race and a wrestle, Oliver got a hold on three legs again and wrapped the calf as fast and neat as a chuck roast in a meat market. But his time was 18.5 seconds, too much.
"Boy, I got a good fall on that calf," Oliver said later. "It didn't line out, it turned back and it got right up against the fence, so I don't know how I roped it, and I still could have had a 16. But you gotta take the shakes as they come. Some folks start slumps and let it eat on 'em. Pretty soon they ain't no more threat than anybody you ain't never saw."
This cheeriness in adversity had a thorough test in succeeding days. After riding past his steer in the bulldogging, and putting himself out of the running in that event, Dean lost his calf in the second roping go-round when Nancy didn't get back on the end of the rope quick enough, thus letting the calf struggle to its feet. His combined time of 33.9 seconds was good enough for fourth-place roping money, but it was bad by Oliver standards. Yet he was not disappointed. Never surprised to win, Oliver is also never surprised to lose. Besides, there was another rodeo in Monte Vista, Co o., 750 miles away, beginning the next day. For a cowboy, there is always another rodeo.