Driggers Back in the Header’s Box in 2016
Georgia native Kaleb Driggers headed at four-straight Wrangler National Finals Rodeos from 2011-14 before heeling in 2015. Driggers is back to the front side in 2016, and is heading for Brazilian heeling sensation Junior Nogueira.

Kendra Santos: Why’d you decide to heel in 2015?

Kaleb Driggers: I had a chance to go do something a little different than what I’d been working on in previous years. I was trying to set myself up for later in life. You can’t rodeo forever, so I was trying to get a headstart on my future.

KS: How excited are you to get back to heading in 2016?

KD: Very excited, and I’m extremely excited about my partner. We’re working on the same goals, and are both trying to earn our first world title.

KS: We’ve all had a big time watching Junior rear back on two feet for Jake (Barnes) the last couple years. What excites you most about roping with him?

KD: Junior’s just so talented. He doesn’t ever get in a position where he can’t catch. If we have a stronger steer I don’t have to take as much risk, because he can throw fast and make up the time. I shouldn’t have to take as many low-percentage shots because of what he can do at his end.

KS:You had a three-horse timed-event remuda at the 2015 NFR. Tell me about those three horses.

KD: JoJo LeMond took my horse Dre, the sorrel horse I bought from Jake Barnes, as a backup head horse. He didn’t end up needing him, but he was there just in case. Colby Lovell took my palomino horse, Fast Time, and rode him all but one round. He went and practiced on him one morning, because head horses can get so tight in that little building, and Fast Time sprained one of his hind ankles. So Colby got on his horse that one night and gave Fast Time the night off. Kollin VonAhn rode the sorrel heel horse we’re partnered on, Hock, all 10 rounds. 

KS: A glowing showing like that must make you pretty proud of your horse herd, huh?

KD: It was pretty fun to me to have my horses go, since I didn’t get to participate this time. I’ve been trying to put together some quality horses. To see them at the Finals was pretty cool.

KS: You spent your 26th birthday (December 19) in the Cayman Islands with Kollin VonAhn. Tell me about that little walk on the beach.

KD: It was my first time leaving the U.S., and it was a pretty unique experience. The culture’s so different over there. Kollin and I are good friends, and we had a really good time. We went out on boat rides and went to a place they call Stingray City. There’s a sandbar out there where you can get out of the boat and swim with the stingrays. I was glad to go, but I was glad to come home and get back after it, too. I’m pretty pumped about 2016.

KS: You were the overall and team roping PRCA Resistol Rookie of the Year among headers in 2009. What have you learned since then that’s made you a better cowboy?

KD: Breaking out rodeoing is no different than any other job. The more experience you have, the better you know what to do in different situations. You learn what to do and when to do it. I had a good year as a rookie. I came up short of making the Finals, but I learned a lot that year that helps me now. Experience definitely gives you an upper hand. Before you make your first NFR it seems impossible to make it. Once you make it you realize it’s not impossible at all.

KS: You headed for Jade Corkill in 2012 when he won his first gold buckle. Clay O’Brien Cooper heeled for Chad Masters that year when Chad won his second gold buckle. You and Clay O were the reserve champs by a mere $1,211 and $1,131, respectively. I know that was hard on Chad and Jade. Does that near miss still haunt you?

KD: No. I was happy to see those guys win it. We’d rodeoed together all year, and they both deserved it. I was just happy to be a part of it. Hopefully someday I’ll be on the winning side of it.

Photo by Dudley Barker

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