JX2 Productions’ annual Cheyenne, Wyo., event has been drawing in ropers for eight consecutive years. While it hasn’t always been a World Series qualifier, its proximity to the Daddy of ’Em All, where you can catch a concert or watch the pros run one, is a huge advantage.
As team ropers, the amount of roping we get to do year after year can vary significantly. Careers can be demanding, funds fluctuate, horses are hard to come by and outside commitments can take us in a totally different direction. More than a few of the 2014 Daddy Round 8 division winners know first-hand about that ever elusive game of life versus roping. The good news is their shift in priorities has actually led them straight to the roping pen, and hey, winning is just a bonus, right?
Number 13 division winner, Crockett Herring, should have been across town at camp with the boys from his Southeast High School football team. Instead, he was turning steers for Wheatland, Wyo., rancher, Mike Christinck to win his half of $10,840.
“Technically I should have been at the team camp that’s going on here in Cheyenne,” admitted Herring, who said he enjoys coaching, in part, because of the strong relationships you build with the kids.
Not only should he “technically” not have been there—Herring’s horse had crippled himself in the first round. His good friend, Seth Schafer jumped in.
“My horse ended up lame after that first round and Seth just let me hop on his. He was way better than my horse, let’s put it that way,” laughed Herring. “I upgraded for sure.”
Herring, a 5 Elite header from Veteran, Wyo., makes his living as an elementary physical education teacher in nearby Torrington. A former Chadron State College football player, he’s served as an assistant football coach for Southeast High in Yoder, Wyo., for eight years. The last two years he’s also coached the high school basketball team.
Growing up on his family’s ranch, Herring has always been a team roper, and even roped calves and bulldogged up through college, but it’s his background in team sports that still helps with his mindset today.
“You just learn how to compete and how to practice,” he explained. “You have to practice to improve, it’s the same with roping.”
That said, with his own kids starting to junior rodeo and year-round commitments to his high school teams, making team roping practice a priority has been difficult. Cheyenne was only his third World Series qualifier this year. Herring and Christinck came back fifth high call and after catching knew they were leaving with something.
“I knew I was going to get a check, and I really didn’t care which one it was. First or fifth, I was just happy I wasn’t going to be a loser,” laughed Herring.
Just because you’re in attendance, doesn’t always mean you’re actually roping. Take the guy who’s flagging, for instance. For the last twenty years Kevin Schmidt of Box Elder, S.D., has spent more time flagging for producers like Paul Tierney, Larry Steele and others, than actually roping. He’s flagged ropings everywhere from the Dakotas to Minnesota and even Wisconsin.
Not only that, Schmidt has spent the last decade or more hauling his son Jade to rodeos, admitting, “It’s been fun, but I’m definitely glad he’s done with high school.”
It’s part of what makes this lifestyle so great—doing what we love alongside our family—and admittedly Schmidt couldn’t be more proud of Jade, who qualified for his first College National Finals rodeo this past July, but he’s also looking forward to making his own roping a priority.
Schmidt’s $6,275 win in the #12 division with Tom Clark qualified him for his first World Series Finale and that’s undoubtedly where he’ll be come December, stating, “I’d be a fool not to!”
Born and raised on his family’s ranch in Powder River, Wyo., 26-year-old Chris Robinett didn’t start roping until he was 14. He went and watched his first World Series Finale last year and decided then to see if he could qualify. After roping at just three 2014 events, his $6,235 win with Danny Cole got him right where he wanted to be. The duo came back high call and with only five clean runs ahead of them (proof positive that sometimes all you have to do is catch), they had all the time in the world.
“There definitely wasn’t a lot of pressure. I like it a little better when there’s someone coming at you. When they say you just have to catch, that’s when it’s the hardest,” said Robinett.
The Barrel Racer
Sometimes, our priorities change not because we want them to, but because we’re forced to. Lexi Bath who currently splits her time between her hometown of Burns, Wyo., and Cochise, Ariz., found herself in that predicament. An amateur and circuit rodeo cowgirl, her family has long been known throughout the industry for their top-notch Bath Performance Horses. And while she’s always been successful in the arena, Lexi had found herself much more focused on running barrels than roping.
Last year when her good barrel horse tore a ligament around his belly in a freak accident, she was forced to put him down and that’s when she found herself concentrating more on her team roping.
“This last winter I really, really worked on my heading,” said Lexi, who has also had a lot of success in the breakaway roping, but never even won a check at a World Series. After entering an earlier qualifier in Gill, Colo., with partner, and long-time family friend, Jerry Kraft, the two decided they’d go ahead and enter Cheyenne. Their decision proved to be the right one, but on the flip side, Lexi admits her head horse is, “turning in to a really nice barrel horse.”
So, when it’s all said and done, sometimes, it really is all about where we place our priorities.
The Bull Rider
Past College National Finals Champion Bull Rider, Tom Clark, had to give up the roughstock event after a car accident left him with what doctors said would likely be his last concussion.
Coincidentally, Clark had ridden his last bull at a Professional Bull Rider’s event in Cheyenne, Wyo., and was only about five miles from his hometown in Oregon when the wreck happened.
“I got on at the circuit finals after that. I rode two out of three and then I never got back on.”
Clark grew up ranching, so shifting his hobby back to roping was a natural transition.
���I always liked riding horses and ranching, so it was something to come back to, to fill the competitive edge,” he said. “I really enjoy the horsemanship part of it.”
Clark, who recently moved to Ocala, Fla., is a self-employed welder—mainly building fence and arenas. His work has taken him to South Dakota the past four summers, and despite being in the same state, Clark had never met his #12 division partner, Kevin Schmidt of Box Elder. A mutual friend got them hooked up to rope in Cheyenne and it paid off with them splitting $12,550—the highest paying division of the weekend.