Retired jockey returns after 30-year absence

Mike Erwin Journal-Capital
Pawhuska native G.R. Carter Jr., right, participated in Friday night’s team roping event at Cavalcade with his best friend from high school, Shawn Fadely. Prior to competing, the two posed for a family photo showing special patches bearing the ranch brand of another friend from PHS, Rick Holt. Holt died, tragically, last September.

Attending to a professional career as the world’s greatest quarter horse jockey caused G.R. Carter Jr. to miss 30 Cavalcades.

Carter, who retired as a jockey late last year, wasn’t about to miss another.

Since undergoing long-delayed knee surgery in January, the Pawhuska native has resumed another of his major interests — roping.

Carter competed at the Frontier Days Rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyo., last Thursday, then returned home to Pawhuska for his 30th high school reunion over the weekend.

While in town, he had the opportunity to be a Cavalcade participant for “the first time since about 1985,” said Carter — who became a professional jockey following his 1986 PHS graduation.

Carter said the Intermediate Calf Roping championship buckle he won at the 1984 Cavalcade remains one of his most prized awards.

“Being from here and knowing all the Cavalcade history makes it really special to me,” Carter said.

One of the most prominent figures from the early years of Cavalcade, Barton Carter, was the retired jockey’s relative.

“He was my grandfather’s brother,” Carter said of the former world champion roper. (Barton Carter was director of several Cavalcades in the 1940’s and ’50s.)

During his legendary riding career, Carter won more than 4,000 races on horses that earned more than $73 million.

“It just came to a point where I’d done about all there was to do,” Carter said of his decision to retire. (He was still one of the most sought-after jockeys in AQHA racing.)

A barrier violation cost Carter at Cheyenne. In Friday night’s Cavalcade performance, Carter competed in the team roping with his best friend from high school, Shawn Fadely. Although Fadely handled his end of the event, ‘heeler’ Carter did not, and the duo received a no-time.

“I just flat missed it,” said Carter.