The very versatile Richard, who’ll be 26 next month, was the Utah high school state champion tie-down roper in 2006, the National High School Rodeo Association tie-down roping and all-around champ in 2007, and the Utah state champion team roper heeling for little brother Kaden in 2008. Rhen took Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rookie of the Year honors as a heeler in 2008 (Kaden won the same title on the heading side in 2010).
Kendra Santos: I feel like your name shows up in PRCA rodeo results every time I turn around. How have they kept you out of the NFR?
Rhen Richard: I’m just placing at the wrong rodeos, I guess.
KS: What’s been your nearest NFR miss so far?
RR: I roped with Matt Sherwood in 2009, and we had to do good at Pendleton. We placed in both rounds and were high call. If we won it I was in. Matt popped it off in the short round. I’m not blaming him at all. We had so many other chances throughout the year. But that was the last straw for me that year.
KS: How tough are those near misses to take, or do they motivate you?
RR: They’re dang sure hard. After 2009, I was burned out for a while. I didn’t rodeo that next winter. I went and played football at Snow College in Ephraim, and got hurt. I tore the labrum in my left shoulder, and that was the end of that.
KS: What do you think it’s going to take to get over the Top-15 hump?
RR: I think just a more consistent run, and placing in more averages.
KS: You’re obviously an all-around cowboy. But if you had to pick heading, heeling or roping calves, which one would it be and why?
RR: If I had to pick one, I’d rope calves because you can concentrate on yourself and it’s all on you. When you mess up team roping, you’re messing up your deal and your partner’s. If you mess up roping calves you’re not hiding somebody else’s fork and knife from him and he can still eat.
KS: When did you switch ends and start heading, and why?
RR: Last year was the first year I headed. I was kind of at a standstill with my heeling after being close to making it two or three times. We had some head horses standing around that my brother and other guys were riding, so I decided to ride them myself.
Ks: You played baseball and football in high school, and as a starting quarterback had all kinds of college football scholarship offers straight out of high school. Why’d you turn those down?
RR: My dad played college football and his advice to me was that unless I wanted to try to make the NFL and make football my life, don’t do it. My dad’s a worker, and his motto is to play and do the rodeo thing while I’m young before having a family. He felt like if you can’t make the NFL then you’re wasting four years when you could be out there rodeoing and trying to figure it out.
KS: Did you make the right call when you chose rodeo?
RR: Looking back, you always wonder. But I’m glad I did what I did. At 6’ 1”, 195, I’m not quite built right to stay healthy in football and my shoulders were always banged up.