Josh Hamby’s peers in the Resistol Rookie race may be half his age, but the heeler from Viola, Arkansas, is prepared to make the most out of his first year in professional rodeo.
“I get ribbed a lot because I am 42 and a Rookie,” Hamby said. “But I like it because I don’t think I would have been ready when I was younger.”
Hamby competed in jackpots and amateur rodeos for more than two decades in Arkansas and the surrounding areas while working full time as an insurance adjuster for natural disasters.
The ProRodeo road
In 2022, 29-year-old Resistol Rookie Tyler Jackson of Salem, Arkansas, convinced Hamby to join him on the Great Lakes Circuit to fill his permit. The team qualified for the Great Lakes Circuit Finals and came out average champions, clinching a qualification to the NFR Open July 11–15, 2023, in Colorado Springs.
“We’d been to several amateur rodeo finals, but I’d never been to anything like the Great Lake Circuit Finals,” Hamby said. “I’m very excited about the NFR Open, too. There are so many people who go to the circuit rodeos and try to make the [NFR Open] forever and, my first year rodeoing, I got to qualify for it. I think it’s a great thing.”
Hamby is sitting No. 8 in the Resistol Rookie heeling standings with $8,736 in earnings, while Jackson is No. 3 in the Resistol Rookie heading standings with $8,736 as well.
“Tyler and I know each other really well,” Hamby said. “We travel well together and it’s pretty easy for us to rope together. He lives about seven miles from me and has 100 head of roping steers at all times.”
“My advice to rookies would be to learn from everyone you can and take each day in stride because there are ups and downs. You can get on a roll down and then it can change in an instant and you can be on the high end of winning. You need to have a short-term memory.”— Josh Hamby
Hamby’s homebred horsepower
Hamby’s horsepower is family-bred “Bow Wow,” an 11-year-old gelding registered as Jodies Bar Warrior. He’s sired by Jodies Bar Chic, a Smart Chic Olena stallion and out of a mare that goes back to Doc’s Lynx.
“We raised him and sold him as a weanling and I kept up with him,” Hamby said. “He switched hands a few times, and I had the chance to buy him back when he was 5 in 2017.
“Bow Wow can run enough, and he’s got enough stop” Hamby explained. “But where he’s really good is at the horn—he never shorts me and makes it easy to catch.”
Bow Wow’s strengths match Hamby’s priorities, too, which include catching: Every. Single. Time.
“I don’t necessarily go as fast as a lot of the younger guys, but I try not to miss,” Hamby said.
Growing up in Northern Arkansas, Hamby’s parents—Joe and Gayla—ran cattle and sold horses. The elder Rookie first picked up a rope as a teen and went to heading in amateur rodeos and jackpots. In his 20s, Hamby started heeling so he could get better partners with the smaller pool of ropers in the area.
“I went to US Ropings, amateur rodeos and college rodeos. I made it to the college finals while heeling for Arkansas State University in 2000,” Hamby said.
When the workforce called, Hamby never lost touch with rodeo—it just took him longer to make it to the ProRodeo stage.
Resistol Rookie Header Standings
As of 6/14/23
- Cole Thomas, Emelle, AL, $22,184
- Cutter Machado, Santa Maria, CA, $11,338
- Tyler Jackson, Salem, AR, $8,736
- Kolby Krieger, Fredricktown, MO, $7,741
- Chet Weitz, London, TX, $7,691
Resistol Rookie Heeler Standings
As of 6/14/23
- Clay Clayman, Highlandville, MO, $22,128
- Kaden Profili, Jacksonville, TX, $19,392
- Landen Glenn, McAlester, OK, $16,561
- Cutter Thomison, Hermleigh, TX, $15,318
- JR Gonzalez, Maypearl, TX, $13,532