Two-time World Champion Heeler Patrick Smith purchased Western States Ranches’ great dun stallion Hesa Dunofa Lena—known as Rooster—with plans of rodeoing on the stand-out stud and launching a breeding program to help elevate the horses in the roping industry.
“I’ve watched him for 10 years,” Smith said. “Randon (Adams) had no intention of selling him, but with Randon doing everything he’s doing in business, he’s not riding him anymore. I watched Jory (Levy) heel on him at the BFI, and I said to Trevor (Brazile), ‘Man, I always loved that horse.’ I called Randon to see if he would lease him. I went and tried him, ran one steer on him and knew I loved him. I could have backed into the box high back anywhere on him after one steer.”
Smith leased Rooster, who is by Adams’ reining stallion Hesa Sonofa Dun out of Paulena by Doc O’Lena, for the summer of 2018. He rode the horse nearly everywhere, but when it came time to send him home, Smith just couldn’t do it.
“I really didn’t want to sell him,” Adams, the 2008 World Champion Heeler, said. “He was my wife’s horse, and he became part of the family. My kids—7, 5 and 2—rode him around. Rooster was really my 7-year-old’s riding horse. But mostly, he was sitting in a stall. And I want to see Patrick do well on him. My kids will have his colts to ride, and they’re the best I’ve ever been around. And they have (four-time PRCA/AQHA Heel Horse of the Year) Diesel, too.”
In addition to being Smith’s number-one mount in his 2019 partnership with Charly Crawford, Rooster will stand at Outlaw Equine, with limited breedings available via frozen semen for $2,000 (raisingroosters.com; 325-261-3966).
“In our industry, I can’t pick out a head or heel horse somebody is riding and say I want to breed a mare to that horse. That’s something new on the team roping scene, but something people are looking for. I’ve never been a big papers guy—it never really mattered to me. I’ve never looked for breeding first, I looked for quality in the arena. The way this horse is bred is a bonus. The reason I bought him is the way he is to heel on. I knew I needed a great one. I’m hoping this year people will get to see that.”
Smith will carry on the Adams’ family’s Western States Ranches tradition of breeding and competing on great horses—a tradition started by the late family patriarch Wes Adams.
“My dad saw it coming,” Adams said. “It was a pipe dream, raising good rope horses. We had our first full crop, and in it we had Rooster, Transmission (the dun horse now owned by Colorado’s JB James and on whom Jason Adams won Salinas) and the yellow head horse I have now. We didn’t know what we had until they got 3 or 4, so then we went back and bought the stud from my dad’s cousin. My dad had an eye for a horse, and we just kept doing it. They’re the easiest horses I’ve ever had to train in my life. To make head horses, we put them on race horses, and they got on their butt. We crossed them on cow horses and got amazing heel horses.”
The Adams started Rooster at their ranch in Dublin, Texas, starting him in the cutting and reining before going to the heeling quickly as a 3-year-old.
“Wade Wheatley saw him as a 3-year-old, and I came around there, with Rooster was being Rooster, wheeling around and dragging his ass, and he said ‘Put that horse up or you’re going to ruin him. No 3-year-old should be doing that,’” Adams laughed. “I said this horse is too good-minded.”
Rooster may have been great from an early age, but he still played second-fiddle to Diesel, who was in the prime of his career. But Adams would allow friends, like an up-and-coming young heeler from Colorado by the name of Dakota Kirchenschlager, hop a ride on his standout prospect.
“The thing that amazed me about him—from the time he was 4 or 5, he never got excited. He was always one of the best-minded horses I ever rode,” Kirchenschlager, now a three-time NFR heeler, remembered. “For a stud or gelding, at the NFR, ropings or rodeos—it didn’t matter where—I can hardly remember him ever doing anything wrong. It didn’t matter who rode him. He would let you heel a steer and then put his head down and walk away. The first time I made the NFR, Randon sent him down out of shape to San Bernardino, Poway and Kingman, and I made it by $3 because of that horse.”
After Kirchenschlager, Cesar de la Cruz, Russell Cardoza, Adams’ brother-in-law Jory Levy and little brother Austin Adams would jump ride Rooster when they needed some help. Adams also sent the horse to San Bernardino, Poway and Kingman to pinch hit for Cardoza, who made the Finals that year, too.
“I saw Dakota use him at those rodeos, and we talked about it, and Randon sent him for me too,” Cardoza said. “He always got you in the right spot, and even though he’d been standing around not getting used, he worked like he’d been ridden every day.”
Cardoza took him to Oklahoma City’s USTRC Cinch National Finals of Team Roping, too, and picked up a check in the US Open, too.
de la Cruz got to show off Rooster on rodeo’s biggest stage, riding him two years at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo when he needed a horse change the last five rounds each year.
“That horse is so fun,” de la Cruz said. “He’s so honest. It’s hard to get a horse, especially a stud, to be honest and give you his all every single time. He gives you a good throw and a great chance no matter the situation. His ability to slide and get on his hind end really sets him apart—he’ll leave 11s at a trot.”
Along the way, Adams, in semi-retirement after taking over his late-father’s construction business, won his hometown of Logandale’s Clark County Fair and Rodeo and the California Rodeo Salinas on Rooster, then just 7, in 2011. Despite Diesel being sound enough to go to those rodeos, Adams pulled out Rooster because, with both horses out of shape, Rooster was young and sturdy enough to take it.
Now 15, Rooster remains as sturdy as he was when he began his career under Adams.
“For a 15-year-old horse that’s been used extensively, his soft tissue structure is nice and tight and cold,” Outlaw Equine’s Dr. Josh Harvey said. “Radiographically, he’s outstanding. He will pass these genetics on to his babies—not just his conformation externally, but his radiographic conformation. His joints are stellar on the x-rays, and his semen quality was outstanding. If I were breeding for rope horses, I’d give this stallion strong consideration.”
While owning a breeding stallion is secondary to owning a great horse for Smith, he does have one goal in mind for his newly found program.
“My only plans is that I want my own colt out of him,” Smith said. “I’ve never wanted a colt of my own before. This horse has pushed me to that point. I’m going to find a mare—I just don’t know what mare yet. But ultimately, I can’t wait to ride him. People had forgotten about him because he’s been standing in Logandale the last couple years not doing anything. I’m going to get him back out and rope good on him and let people see him. He really is something special. If anybody is around him they would want a colt out of him.”TRJ