A well-shaped hat is a staple element at the 2020 NRHA Derby presented by Markel. Chances are pretty good Rusbell Carasco had a hand in shaping a majority of the hats thundering down the Gateway of Champions.
Hailing from Mexico, Rusbell was raised around horses and eventually became a colt starter based out of Kearney, Nebraska. His insatiable thirst for new knowledge led Rusbell to his position behind the steamer at Shorty’s Caboy Hattery shop and trade shows across the country.
“I’ve known Shorty for a long time and I was in the shop one day when I saw the whole process for making hats. I told Shorty I wanted to learn how to do that. I asked Shorty for a job, but she didn’t have anything open right then.”
Rusbell was pumping gas around noon when Shorty told him to head down to the Okie State–she had a job for him.
“I started from scratch here. My first job was sanding the hats, and now I work out front and help customers find their hats and shape them. I think Shorty is the best hat maker in the world and that’s why I like working for her.”
For the last 11 years, Rusbell has perfected creases for Shorty’s customers, both young and old. Rusbell has helped Shorty outfit riders for world and national titles of all kinds over the years and he’s built friendships along the way.
“I like being at the Derby because I get to see the best reiners and the best horses. I also get to see a lot of friends here every year. It’s the same at the (NRHA) Futurity in the winter.”
For Rusbell, not only is Oklahoma City great because it’s a hub for horse events, but it’s also full of nice people who make Rusbell feel at home.
“The best part about making and shaping hats is seeing the customers happy. I make these hats for them. The hardest part about making hats is everything because you have to be careful at every step. I want to get every step just right so I can make a good product and have happy customers at the end of the day.”