As team ropers are loaded up and headed out for the ProRodeo summer run, eight-time NFR qualifier Kaleb Driggers is home, sidelined with a break in his left hand.
Driggers was involved in a freak team roping accident on June 2, 2021, when his horse, Schmidty, fell while pulling a steer.
“We were jackpotting at Mount Pleasant (Texas) at the new Priefert arena,” Driggers said. “When my horse went to take a hold of the steer, his front left foot slid in the ground. It kind of slid back and inward. When that happened, he stepped over with his right foot and sent us both into the ground pretty good.”
When the accident initially happened, Driggers was unsure if there was a break or tear in his hand, but he knew that he had no grip.
“I knew it wasn’t good because it was hurting pretty good,” he said. “I didn’t know if I dislocated something or what. I still had another run in the second round. I was trying to grip my reins and my rope, and it wasn’t going good.”
Driggers, determined to stay in the roping, tried to rope his second steer with his ProRodeo partner, Junior Nogueira.
“I ran up and headed the steer and pulled my slack and I couldn’t do anything with my left hand, so I just put my reins in my right hand and rode up the arena,” he said. “I wanted to see exactly what was going. I didn’t know if it was something small or if it was actually broke.”
The X-rays showed a break in the ring finger metacarpal bone—the “hand bone” the connects the finger to the wrist.
“I went to a hand specialist in Fort Worth—Dr. Eric Wroten. He sent me over to Fort Worth Physical Therapy and they built me a splint-cast. It’s a cast, but I can still take it on and off.”
Driggers has drawn out of the Bob Feist Invitational and his partner, Nogueira, picked up Arizona’s Colter Todd to fill in.
“He’s going to rope at the BFI and will fly back,” Driggers explained about Nogueira. “I’m hoping by middle to end of next week I’ll be able to go to a couple rodeos. It’s a little disheartening because of not getting to go out there last year. I always look forward to this time of the year. It’s refreshing to get back into rodeo mode and going to a rodeo every day.”
Driggers will watch his partner do battle in Reno, Nevada, as he continues to prepare himself and his horse for their first run back.
“They said at about five weeks it would be good and about seven weeks it should be at 100%,” he said. “I went to CVS and Walgreens and tried every brace they had. I found one that’s really good that feels like I’m 90% in. I roped the dummy some yesterday (June 16) about four or five times to ease back into it—not actually roping but, basically, just throwing my rope to get a feel and see what it’s like. I gave [Schmidty] about a week and a half off. The last four or five days, I’ve been putting him on the walker to get him legged back up.”
Driggers might be missing the rodeo road, but he’s determined to keep his head up until he can load up the rig and put his name down on PROCOM.
“When this happened, it set me back. I’ve been trying to keep a positive outlook on it. It’s disheartening at times, but I just take it day by day and stay upbeat about it.”