Caleb Hendrix, of Fallon, Nevada, established an early lead in the 2021 Resistol Rookie heeling race and finished out the season as the official Resistol Rookie Heeler of the Year with $58,355.06 in season earnings heeling for three-time NFR qualifier Quinn Kesler.
“I really wasn’t even really excited about winning Rookie,” Hendrix admitted of his early-season take on the opportunity. “Quinn was like, ‘You know you only get one chance at that, right?’ He put it into perspective. It’s true. You can make the NFR when you’re 40, but you only get one chance at Rookie. It is cool to say that’s the one thing that I got done and now I can always say I won was the Rookie.”
When the 2021 ProRodeo regular season ended, Hendrix, 22, found himself 18th in the ProRodeo World Standings, all while qualifying Kesler to his third NFR. (Kesler qualified as a heeler in 2016 and 2018, and is now in gold-buckle contention as a header in 2021.)
“I was Top 15 with one week left of rodeo,” Hendrix said. “We didn’t start rodeoing until June. We didn’t get into the Tour Finale because of that. There’s a lot of factors that I feel like, going into this year, getting into the winter rodeos, I think we were this close this year. I hope we can be closer next year and, hopefully, not be in the position we were.”
Though the season didn’t necessarily play out exactly how Hendrix anticipated, it was something for him and his family to follow with the loss of Hendrix’s sister, Rachel, to a carbon monoxide poisoning accident in her living quarters trailer in 2014, and his brother, Cord, in March of 2021 to a head-on collision in Arizona.
“My dad loves the sport of team roping, probably more than I do,” Hendrix said. ”He likes to have a son out here doing it. My dad drove for us once when we needed two rigs and my family watched every rodeo that’s on the Cowboy Channel. They followed it like crazy. My dad and my mom are my biggest supporters. We grew up rodeoing and they’ve been supporting me my whole life, but it’s different at this level. They were there every step of the way like I was in eighth grade, junior rodeoing again. It makes it easier when you have that much support.”
After getting a taste of what it’s like being as close as he was to the Top 15 and having something to keep his mind on, Hendrix is coming back in the 2022 season with the goal of qualifying for the NFR and growing his rope horse training business.
“Aiming high, but I think everyone always has the goal of a gold buckle. I train horses for Quinn. I ride his and I have some of my own and take some outside horses. I wouldn’t mind growing that side of my business for when I am home. I think just rodeoing goes hand in hand with that and makes it easier.”