No. 1 Resistol Rookie Heeler Clay Clayman Looks to Foster New Partnership
Clay Clayman may be leading the Resistol Rookie heeling standings, but the Highland, Missouri, native is maintaining focus on the big picture.
Clay Clayman ropes the heels during the 2023 Jr Ironman competition
Clay Clayman was the 2022 Jr Ironman Champion—and now he's got ProRodeo on his mind. Photo by James Phifer.

Clay Clayman is leading the Resistol Rookie race in both the heeling and the all-around—but the 20-year-old has a bigger picture outlook on his and partner Dalton Turner’s year.

Clayman has earned accolades in rodeo from the time he was in middle school, and is the recent victor of the 2022 Cinch Timed Event Jr. Ironman Championship and 2022 Great Lakes Circuit Year-End Championship with Mason Appleton.

Now, the Resistol Rookie heeling title is in his crosshairs—he is currently sitting No. 1 with $28,417 in earnings.

“When we started the year, I never dreamed it would go this well. And we’re only halfway through the season in my book.”

Clay Clayman

But the budding ProRodeo roper has bigger things on his mind: 2024.

“Rookie of Year title does not make any difference to our team,” Clayman said. “That doesn’t help Dalton—it’s not a big deal for him. So, I want to make as much as I can for our team to do get into winter rodeos next year. If that allows me to win Rookie of the Year, that’s great. If not, so be it.”

Those are humble words coming from the man sitting in the driver’s seat of the Resistol Rookie All-Around race thanks to his additional talents in the bulldogging.

Clay Clayman’s a team player

Clayman and Turner came together in February, after Clayman and 2022 partner Appleton split following their success in the Great Lakes Circuit.

“Mason and I parted ways because I wanted to stay in the Great Lakes Circuit, and he wanted to go to the Prairie,” Clayman said. “The day before the books closed on Odessa, I got a call from Dalton. So, coming into this year, I didn’t have plans to rodeo hard at all. I was just going to circuit rodeo.”

Priorities shifted when Clayman and Turner started clicking—something Clayman’s been dreaming of since growing up and watching Turner rope around the Midwest. 

“We go way back because we live only three hours from each other,” Clayman said. “We’d never actually roped together, but we’ve been around each other a lot. I thought, ‘If I could ever heel for him, I could win a lot of money behind him.’

“The good thing about us together is, he likes to go fast and I prefer to catch. He gives me time to take a couple of extra swings and get them caught because he’s so quick that I’m not in a rush to keep us in the money.”

The pair’s biggest payday so far came at the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Oklahoma, where a 4.0-second time paid them $2,140 a man.

Summer fun and maybe some bulldogging

Clayman sold his bulldogging team earlier in the year to fund his team roping travels. Though he’s focused on slinging rope, he plans to bulldog on borrowed horses when he has the chance. His hopes? Make the Great Lakes Circuit Finals in bulldogging and  team roping.

As for team roping, Turner and Clayman are heading to the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, Arizona to begin their Fourth of July run.

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