When Clint Summers backs into the box for his second National Finals Rodeo appearance—his first on the head side—he'll be aboard perhaps one of the greatest head horses of the last decade in WSR Hesa Alive, known by top ropers far and wide as Transmission.
Summers, who will head for NFR-rookie Ross Ashford when the Finals kicks off Thursday, Dec. 2, bought the 15.2-hand, 17-year-old dun gelding just two weeks ago from Colorado standout JB James.
"I’ve always seen that horse go out on the road, and you'd be crazy if you didn't see how good he was," Summers said. "He always looked the same no matter what, and he’s so fun to watch. I never thought JB would sell him and thought he’d have him forever. I heard he was quitting, and I wondered what would happen to that horse. Of course, he wasn’t cheap, and he’s got a lot of age on him, but I knew he'd be a difference maker in Las Vegas."
James had owned Transmission for the last nine years, winning the Red Bluff Round-Up and the Clovis Rodeo on the super-fast gelding, and making the Mountain States Circuit Finals on him year in and year out. But James decided to jump into the family business as 2021 came to a close, so he was torn as to whether or not he should keep Transmission around.
"I was particular about who I sold him to," James said. "That horse doesn’t owe me anything. I wanted to turn him out, but he doesn’t deserve to sit in the pasture. He’s got a lot of life in him. Clint is a great hand to have on him. He rides head horses really well."
The gelding was raised by the late Wes Adams' Western States Ranches and trained by Jason and Randon Adams. He bears the same famous Western States brand as Aaron Tsinigine's Smudge and Patrick Smith's WSR Hesa Dunofa Lena, and he's a paternal half brother to Smith's stud.
"My dad loved that horse," said 2008 World Champion Heeler Randon Adams. "That’s been the best head horse out there for a while. My dad bought those cow horse mares and running horse mares, and we split the first foal crop and then figured out what we had, so we went out and bought the stud they were all bred to."
When Jason and Randon Adams won California Rodeo Salinas in 2011, they were aboard the half-brother team of Transmission and Diesel.
"That was the year my dad died," Randon said. "We've just got a sentimental spot for those horses. Jay seasoned Transmission and rode him as much as anybody. When he was 4, Clay Logan needed a help horse, so he took him and we turned down $50,000 at the World Show. We weren’t ever going to sell him, but then when Jay quit, we decided to not to let him go to waste."
For Randon, watching Transmission excel under the bright lights of the Thomas & Mack is the perfect exclamation point to the horse's long career.
"He won’t have any problems in the wall," Randon said. "That one doesn’t have any bad habits. He scores and runs and gets a hold and faces strong. We have a box, so we’ll see him. Clint ropes so good and has quick hands, so he’ll do good on him out there. That’s an awesome horse."
Summers enters the Finals eighth in the PRCA World Standings with $74,483 won on the year.
"He deserves to be showcased at the Thomas & Mack," Summers added. "I always felt like that was the best head horse there was going. He’s always stood out, and he’s always been great. Now that I ride him, he IS great. I got on him and it felt like I’ve been riding him for 10 years. People say it looks like we fit. He fit me, and I knew I needed this horse." TRJ