Who’s the guy in first place—ahead of four-time reserve world champ Kaleb Driggers—in the WCRA heading standings? It’s Casey Hicks of Talala, Oklahoma.
A three-time reserve world champ himself in the AQHA, Hicks knows that staying atop the WCRA pack all spring will get him a direct bye into the half-million-dollar Rodeo Corpus Christi, presented by Miller Lite. The event in Texas on May 6-9 will be televised on a CBS network as part of The Buccaneer Days Festival with a kick-off by the PBR on April 30.
Hicks, 34, trains and shows horses for a living. Since most of the Majors in the WCRA in its first few years have been scheduled over big horse shows, he had never nominated until this winter. Some lofty incentives at January’s 51st International Finals Rodeo (IFR) in Guthrie, however, helped prompt him. For instance, if Hicks won more dollars than anybody else who nominated the IFR (the finals of the International Professional Rodeo Association), he’d earn a $2,500 bonus from the WCRA.
“I figured it’s worth putting up $200 to try to win $2,500,” explained Hicks, who won a round there with Cooper Freeman.
The following weekend, he nominated the American Finals Rodeo in Tulsa, sanctioned by the American Cowboys Rodeo Association. There, he practically 40-percented the team roping with Stitches Stanley. Thus, at just two big rodeos, Hicks put himself in the driver’s seat for Corpus Christi. He was heading at both events for Freeman and Stanley, even though he’s a 9.5 heeler.
“At rodeos, heelers can only heel steers so fast,” he said. “There are way more guys out there that can heel on the first jump than headers who can turn them fast enough to win something.”
Hicks comes from a horse-show family in southeast Missouri, and has roped all his life. But after earning an equine management degree at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, he never left the state. Hicks also attended a tech school, and used his education for a while. Seven years ago, he quit his day job to train rope horses full-time.
Running Hicks Performance Horses, in fact, isn’t impossible while nominating in the WCRA. On the other hand, his PRCA Circuit Finals is often over the top of the American Rope Horse Futurity Association Finals. Hicks said the futurities have been his focus of late, and he has several good youngsters ready to show at the first event in Scottsdale in late February.
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In the meantime, Hicks was considering nominating February’s Red Dirt Roping WSTR jackpots in Guthrie and Clay Logan’s Open to the World roping. Plus, he’ll nominate the BFI in March, where he and Steve Orth placed sixth last year to split $30,000.
Orth is Hicks’ main partner, and is making a comeback this month following his September shoulder surgery. Regardless of who Hicks picks up for Corpus Christi this spring, he wouldn’t mind adding that Major title to his collection of AQHA gold buckles in junior heading, senior heading, and senior heeling.
What’s more, Rodeo Corpus Christi is the first of the WCRA’s 2021 Triple Crown of Rodeo events. Any roper who wins three Majors in a row (including Corpus) earns all or part of a $1 million bonus. Even without any bonuses, consider that Garrett Tonozzi has already banked $145,000 from Majors. And, in a year that’s seen many major rodeos cancel or cut their payouts, Rodeo Corpus Christi has doubled down on the cowboys’ and cowgirls’ payout.
“I think the WCRA, on the bigger scale, will give us an opportunity to win more money than is possible in the PRCA,” said Hicks, who is able to choose to nominate the events that work with his day-to-day business. “If I’m not home, I don’t get paid. So if I’m gone rodeoing, I’m not making money at home. That doesn’t work for me.” TRJ