We live in a world that is constantly on the go. News is quick, information is quicker and life always seems to fly by faster than we’d like. Add kids and a family to the mix, and everything is increased tenfold. No one knows this better than team roper and family man, Witt Crowser.
An exterior contractor from New Underwood, S.D., when he’s not bidding roofs or fixing fences, Crowser is making time for his son Kale, 8, his daughter Jaden, 11, and his wife, Sally. So how, with his busy lifestyle, has he been so successful this year at the World Series qualifiers in his surrounding region? (He racked up $12,256 with wins including; first in the #13 in Torrington, Wyo.; first in the #11 and third in the #12 in Belle Fourche, S.D.; and first in the #12 in Miles City, Mont.)
“The solid WSTR events put on in the North and West, with the fresher, stronger cattle, is one of the reasons I’m able to be successful,” explained Crowser. But, it’s also his strong competitive edge, backed by some solid horses.
Crowser really got serious about roping just 10 short years ago. He loved the competitive aspect—after all, it’s in his blood. At 18-years-old, Crowser was on the National Junior Olympic Team for wrestling, traveling to Europe and training with some of the best in the world. He then went on to become a collegiate All-American wrestler. As he got a little older he knew he had to continue to fulfill his competitiveness.
“It was either golf, high stakes poker or team roping,” he explained. “And, you can only team rope for so long. I thought I would enjoy it while I can, and then later on when I can’t do it anymore, I can pick a new hobby.”
This year, in particular, hasn’t been the easiest for Crowser to get to the practice pen—traveling in and out of town for work, not to mention the incessant amount of rain and moisture in the region. But, as the former collegiate athlete knows, giving yourself the chance to succeed increases your odds.
“I enter from the Open all the way to the #10, giving myself the opportunity to win,” said Crowser, who also knows the tools are just as important as the odds. “The key, for me, is having a good horse that really fits, that I know well. I am blessed right now that I have two great horses I’ve roped on—one for four years, and one for six years. They are both pretty sound, and I know what they are going to do in any situation, and that sure helps.”
For this family man, the best part about the sport of team roping is not just the money or the competition, it’s the fact that he can enjoy it with his family. Both of his children are interested in the sport and practice right along side him.
“Even though I rarely practice (on live cattle), I do rope the dummy quite a lot with my kids. Anytime you have a rope in your hand it’s helping. And after roofing houses or building all day, I might not feel as enthusiastic about roping at night, but I do because the kids want me to, and it is nice to get to spend that time together.”
Like many families who rope, it becomes a common interest and creates a strong bond. Crowser’s family supports him and likes to go with him when he does go rope. Sally used to rodeo and has recently gotten back in the roping pen, thanks in part to their current string of horses. She rides often, and along with the kids, helps to keep Witt’s horses in shape when he’s out of town.
Both Jaden and Kale have started attending junior rodeos and have hit that extra-busy age, where the extracurricular activities start adding up. Jaden is playing basketball, while Kale is following in his father’s footsteps as a wrestler. Add to that demanding careers for mom and dad, and to call this family busy would be an understatement. Regardless, of their active schedule, family remains the top priority.
“We try to spend quality time with our kids, whether that’s riding horses or elsewhere, so they have the right upbringing and they can be successful in life,” explained Crowser.
It’s the unending support and love they share for one another that makes this not just another story about a successful team roper, but one that shows that even with the busiest life and swiftness of this modern age, nothing is more important than family.
There’s no mistaking Witt Crowser aboard his grade, paint gelding they call “Bigfoot.” Standing 15.3 hands and weighing some, 1,375 lbs., this talented horse that was once headed for the kill pen, is now a top-notch mount and a gentle giant even Crowser’s kids can enjoy.
Darwin Smebakken, of Piedmont, S.D., called Crowser to tell him about the horse.
“I paid $1,250, which was a lot for how broncy he was,” Crowser recalled. “He wasn’t worth $900 to kill at the time. I needed another big, tough horse to back up the other good one I had.”
Bigfoot filled the bill in looks and conformation, but as far as temperament and training he had a long ways to go.
“He would kick, bite, strike, he hated people. It took a long time just to get where I could even catch him in the round pen and even longer to get his trust.”
After a lot of desensitizing, Crowser was finally able to saddle him, and he remained saddled all that spring and summer.
“Basically, I put in a lot of long days. I roped a lot of cattle on him out in the pasture. It was March when this all started, by about the end of August I was loping on him outside the arena, and by October, I was hauling him to team ropings. That’s about the time he started getting real gentle and nice to be around. It’s not that long in the life span of a horse, but a long time when you handle them every day.”
Crowser took him to his first jackpot where he won seven out of the eight monies they paid that day.
“I knew he was going to be good after that,” said Crowser. “He made about 28 runs in two hours and took it like a champ, and that was as a 5-year-old.”
Crowser estimates he’s won around $200,000 on the now 11-year-old gelding, which he rides in every division. But the best part is that his wife and kids can all ride and rope on Bigfoot as well. Whether it’s in the arena, on the trail or in the branding pen, he has far exceeded all expectations.
“His best attribute is he’s such a gentle giant compared to what he was,” said Crowser. “The roping is just a benefit.”