By the end of July, Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira already surpassed the regular season earnings records held by Clay Smith ($150,512 set in 2019) and Travis Graves ($147,653 set in 2010). And in doing so, they had the richest Fourth-of-July run in team roping history each with $35,152 won from June 25 to July 4.
Here, they break down some of the runs from just a few weeks that put them in uncharted territory:
Photo by Bill Lawless
St. Paul, Oregon
Kaleb Driggers: I got a really good start on that steer, and he was supposed to really run. I threw faster than I expected, and he took a step into me. I’ve got his head and I’m pulling him through the turn. When I head the steer and put it on the saddle horn, it’s like I want to ride around my left leg. In previous years, I’d get a hold of the steer’s head and round him out through the turn but, at some point, he’d square off hard. Now, I try to get a hold of the steer’s head, and he and I leave together through the turn. It allows Junior to know where he’s going the whole time. In St. Paul, which is a two-head situation, I was trying to give Junior a high-percentage throw. When I caught, the steer stepped at me, so I’m riding forward to keep it timely. When the steer hits right there, he’ll straighten out across the arena.
Junior Nogueira: These runs are happening a lot faster because of these handles. I’m trying to get more around the steer. Doing that has sped up our runs, but it’s also kept them more in control.
Driggers: That was this horse’s first time at a setup like Prescott. He naturally wanted to get to the left of the steer, which made it easy for me. Our steer was weak, as you can see, and I got a hold of his head and his butt started flying. I’m trying to soften the turn. I took a hold of it pretty good, and I realize I had a hold of him too hard. I’m in the “hold” position for a second so I don’t hit the steer too hard. Because of that, he squared up and hit pretty good. When you’re rolling down through there, on those fresher steers that don’t weigh a lot, you can tell a lot as soon as you get their head. If their butt starts washing out, you’ve got to slow down to let them get on the end of it and pull them away.
Nogueira: That’s our second steer, and you can tell that Kaleb and I are doing the same move with our bodies. I’m inside because that steer was weak, so I’m trying to hold up a little bit. Both of our hands are holding up so we can stay a little in control.
Driggers: We were in the second perf, and 5.1 was winning the rodeo. We’d messed up two rodeos in a row, so I want to get a time and get us money. I ran him out there a little bit, and he was zig-zagging when I headed him. This shows the steer posted up on the end of it, hopping away from Junior, and Junior is in perfect position to see both feet perfectly. He nailed him right around the guts in the next picture.
Nogueira: Those steers were a little fresh, and he wanted to push to the right. I got up there to hold him. Kaleb did a good job not trying to be too fast. He picked him up, but the steer got heavy the hop before that one. So I just held my rope back a little bit, with my tip back and my body forward, to let Kaleb pull him and get him to hop. I wanted Kaleb to get him out of the ground. When I know where the steer is going, I can control what I’m doing with something clear to chase.
Big Fork, Montana
Driggers: The steers of Dustin Bird’s were really good up there. I honestly got a better start than I probably even should have tried. They said he was low-headed and wanted to step to me, but he ended up being really good. It was a two-head rodeo, so I was just trying to be sharp. I wasn’t trying to go at them. At the two-headers, I’ve been trying to be a little bit aggressive to get a little bit of money and set me up to place in the average in the first round. So, I’ve got him headed, everything is tight and my horse is in my hand, getting ready to go to the horn.
Nogueira: That steer followed really bad at the rodeo before. He tried a little bit, and I rode Chupapi. He was perfect. I was a tick late, but [Chupapi] flies. Kaleb had him roped, so I’m just trying to hustle up there and get caught up. I’m riding really hard. I wanted him to leave straight, so I was late, and Kaleb hooked it on him.
Big Fork, Montana (Same run)
Driggers: Where Junior is heeling him, it’s two jumps later. I got his head and rolled him through there. [Junior] gets in good position right off the left hip to see both feet perfect.
Nogueira: I let [the steer] get legal, and Kaleb had him in control. As soon as I roped him, he was a little straight, and I was worried I might slip a leg so I got tight fast. Kaleb pulled him hard so I didn’t lose that leg.