Heath King and Stephen Britnell turned things around at the Stampede at The E by winning Progressive Round 2 Jan. 6, 2024, with a 5.79.
Thursday in Progressive Round 1, the team added a five-second penalty to a 5.25-second run after breaking the barrier. The following night they focused on the basics and nabbed the win.
“We didn’t know the steers, really,” King, 27, explained. “I was a little too much on the barrier and [Friday] before we rode in, Boog looked over at me across the chute and and said, ‘We just need to go catch one and we’ll make it back to tomorrow.’ So, I just wanted to see the start for sure and run up there and catch him. Boog finished really well for us, and it was a lot better.”
Advancing to Saturday’s Triple Crown of Rodeo Round, the Asheville, North Carolina, and Knoxville, Tennessee, natives plan to keep taking things steer by steer.
“Maybe the good Lord will give us a good draw like [Progressive Round 2], and we’ll just try to go do what he’s blessed us to do,” Britnell, 48, said. “I guess you could say we’ll let the chips fall where they fall. I just give all the glory to God and thank Classic Equine and Spurr’s Big Fix for all they do for me and my family.”
King and Britnell are just getting started in the Lazy E as they’re also preparing for IFR 54, which runs Jan. 11-14 there in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The No. 1 team in the IPRA world standings see the Stampede at The E as a way to be in fighting shape.
“The weather’s been real nasty back home,” said six-time IPRA World Champion Britnell. “We feel like we live in the rainforest back home, and it’s not where we can actually go somewhere this time of year and get to run some steers. So, when we get to actually come to this event right here and be able to have our name called with these kind of guys and this caliber of cowboys, it is absolutely a blessing.”
King rode his No. 1 horse, 16-year-old Jake. The grade gelding has been a blessing for the header.
“I’ve never rode one that was as good as him, and he pretty much all but puts the rope on the horns for you,” King said. “He’s been a true blessing to me, and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Britnell was once again riding 6-year-old Sam. He bought the gelding as a 2-year-old, and he’s now Britnell’s main mount.
“He’s been the easiest little horse I’ve ever owned in my lifetime to be around,” Britnell said. “He loves people, he loves kids and he loves any kind of attention that you can give him. He’s been an amazing animal and a blessing in my life.”
For the cowboys
As IPRA cowboys, King and Britnell love the opportunity the WCRA offers, in terms of qualifying for major events.
“If you make it through, you have a chance at some really good money and you don’t have to just go and wear your rig out to try and win this money,” King said. “You can nominate things that you’re already going to as far as rodeos at home or jackpots. I just think it’s a really good deal for guys like us that are just kind of IPRA rodeoing.”
They have an appreciation for the ability to use instant replay as well, especially after their run in Progressive Round 1. King and Britnell were able to challenge the call of a broken barrier, and though they feel now that it wasn’t necessary, they hope others recognize the benefits of instant replay.
“Maybe that was a good thing because if anybody actually got to see it on TV or somewhere, they can realize that there is a chance for us to have instant replay,” Britnell said. “And that’s one of the things that needs to be going on in rodeo nowadays. My hat’s off to the WCRA. By far one of the best events I’ve probably ever been to in my life for what they try to do for the cowboys and cowgirls.”
Who else is advancing?
The winners of Progressive Rounds 1 and 2, as well as the top six from the Progressive Rounds two-head aggregate, all advanced to the Triple Crown of Rodeo Round. Jake Wells and Bryer Hamilton, James Arviso and Buddy Hawkins, Peyton Walters and Joe Mattern, Ryne Hutton and Brayden Parker, Casey Hicks and Dawson McMaster, Riley Kittle and Jace Helton, and Nelson Wyatt and Carson Johnson will all join King and Britnell Saturday night.
Progressive Round 2: 1. Heath King/Stephen Britnell, 5.79, $1,500.00; 2. Peyton Walters/Joe Mattern, 6.38, $1,000.00; 3. James Arviso/Buddy Hawkins, 7.04, $750.00; 4. Jake Wells/Bryer Hamilton, 7.83, $350.00.