Photos by Lone Wolf Photography
Drew Horner and Buddy Hawkins II made their debut as professional team ropers when they won the 2013 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. It was a breakout win that would launch the duo into their first WNFR qualification where they would win the third go-round and finish nothing short of a dream season.
Most recently, the duo won the 2014 Texas Circuit before going separate ways in 2015 to pursue different goals for the year. But it wasn’t before they out-roped the superstars on their way to winning a whopping $162,500 at the 37th Annual Bob Feist Invitational—the most lucrative win and a dream come true for both cowboys.
Drew Horner was raised in Plano, Texas, about 20 minutes north of downtown Dallas.
“Right in the middle of the city,” explained 26-year-old Horner. “I went to a private Christian school. There was no one around me who roped when I was growing up.”
A self-proclaimed city kid, he competed in other sports, mainly hockey. But his dad roped and kept horses outside of Dallas, in nearby Flower Mound. At 15, Horner picked up a rope and within weeks he went from not even knowing how to swing a loop to saddling the horses, warming them up and shortly thereafter got to the point where he had to make a decision on which sport he would continue to pursue at an elite level. At the time, he’d certainly never heard of the legendary Bob Feist Invitational Team Roping.
“When I was jackpot roping the first summer out of high school, 2007, I realized there are four major ropings all the big guys go to. I remember thinking if I want to be one of the best in the world I’ve got to be able to make the Finals and win at one of our four majors; the Wildfire, the Strait, the U.S. Open and the BFI. My dream in team roping at that point became to have an NFR buckle and a BFI buckle. I’m pretty excited I’ve now got both. To win a “major” is amazing. It’s a dream come true.”
Horner will rope again at the 2015 BFI, despite the fact that he’s staying off the year-round rodeo trail. He’s currently in pursuit of a degree in professional studies with a focus in communications from Dallas Baptist University and hopes to graduate by May 2016.
The day before the 2014 Bob Feist Invitational, 27-year-old heeler, Buddy Hawkins II from Columbus, Kan., told his wife, Krista, and manager, Kyle Rhinehart, that he’d be winning the roping.
“I said, ‘Out of 110 teams roping tomorrow, only one is going to walk away the champion,’” Hawkins recalled. “I told them, ‘I don’t have 110 years to wait my turn. I’m prioritizing this.’”
But when Horner and Hawkins went 8.6 on their first steer, Hawkins figured it destroyed their shot at a BFI championship. As the day drew near its end the crowd was ready for a match roping between past BFI champs, Trevor Brazile and Travis Graves, who had caught up to reigning world champs Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill—coincidentally, Horner and Hawkins’ traveling partners at the time—who had kept a stranglehold on the overall lead most of the day. Fans were shocked when not one, but both megastar teams went down in flames in the fifth round and left it wide open for Horner and Hawkins.
Despite their less than desirable start, they stayed consistent and ended up coming back high call by almost two seconds. They never stopped believing that they had a shot; they just knew they had to keep catching. Hawkins roped by his own advice and it literally paid off.
“If you can catch (at the BFI) you can win,” he explained. “My advice is if you believe you can win, then you can. If you don’t believe, then you just added $5,000 as a team to the roping. It’s not a roping where at the end of the day the people who won are surprised they caught. If you think you’re capable, the main thing is, just stay the course." -BFI