Tucker White Stays Hooked in Badlands Circuit
Tucker White fine tunes his roping for the Badlands Circuit Standings home stretch.

Tucker White, 28, and his brother, Cooper White, 24, of Hersey, Nebraska, had a successful Badlands Circuit finish in 2020 when they won the year-end titles with a total of $18,043.91 and $15,595.21 in season earnings, respectively. Now, they are battling for No. 1 in the same circuit standings in 2021.

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Currently, Cooper is fourth and Tucker is fifth, each with $8,616.46 in circuit earnings. Cooper is roughly $2,500 behind the No. 1 header, Braden Pirrung, who has $11,163.07, and Tucker is nearly $4,000 behind Matt Zancanella, who is leading the heelers with $12,683.04.

Tucker White uses the Excalibur heel rope from Fast Back Ropes, as well as The Cure and the Cobalt. Kaitlin Gustave

“We’ve been playing chaser, instead of being the leader,” Tucker said. “Zanc is roping with a guy that doesn’t claim our circuit and they got on a roll. They’ve made a lot of good runs and were tough to beat all summer long, no matter where they were entered. We’re not out of it yet. We haven’t given up on our circuit dreams for the year. We still have good chances and plenty of time to catch them.”

Cooper and Tucker have worked at making quicker runs in 2021, but haven’t always been able to get a time, which has cost them money-earning opportunities.

“I would say, last year, Cooper and I would make a run and sometimes it wouldn’t be fast enough, and they wouldn’t pay us,” Tucker said. “This year, I feel like our run has gotten faster. We’ve got our run fast enough to win something, but we’ve just made mistakes on both of our ends. It’s either Cooper messing up or me messing up, but it’s usually to win something. That’s what I feel most positive about with our run because it’s usually to win something instead of getting beat by 10 other teams.”

To ensure a more competitive edge, Tucker and Cooper have fine-tuned their runs to be quick with smooth finishes.

“I would like to not let the steers feet hit the ground again after I have the steer heeled,” Tucker said. “That just takes a couple more ticks and, sometimes, a couple ticks cost you a thousand or so. We try to figure out the best spin for us. We tried a couple different things. We’ve tried the veer; we tried coming back. We’ve molded a run that has worked for us and let’s Cooper’s horse get faced in a timely fashion to where we start getting better times and better finishes.”

How the Heeler Views the Handle

While Cooper has been working on figuring out the best handle for their team, Tucker has been navigating a recent horse change. He purchased back his blaze-faced sorrel gelding, Poncho, from Shane and Tyler Boston, that he originally sold to Wesley Thorp two years prior.

“For our first couple months of rodeoing, it was trial and error with trying to figure [Poncho] back out. I’ve had to get used to him again. I think he got better going though all those guys’ hands coming back to me. I just had to get used to a couple different things on him.”

While getting back in tune with his horse, Tucker is also focused on being smooth on the heel side to help his horse and his catch percentage.

“I had a tendency to be real rough with my swing and riding. I felt like I’ve tried to smooth that out a little bit to where it’s effortless for my horse to get into a position and it’s effortless for me to throw my rope. If it’s right, it doesn’t even feel like you have to try at it.”

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Tucker puts emphasis on position and delivery to make their run solid.

“I’ve had a hard time in the past missing steers. I go back and watch the videos and my bottom strand isn’t hitting right. That’s just something that I focus on the ground on the dummy and then, I translate it to the horse and try to get my bottom under the feet as far as I can.”

Now, with three rodeos left counting for the circuit standings, the White brothers are focusing on finishing out the 2021 Pro Rodeo season strong. They are planning on heading to Montana and Idaho rodeos to finish the season with hopes of finishing inside the Top 30 of the World Standings to qualify to rope at Rodeo Houston. Cooper and Tucker are both 42nd with $22,547.02 in total season earnings.

“We have a lot of good chances left,” Tucker said. “Last year, Cooper got in and I didn’t. That was our goal this year. We want to rope together at those and get into those rodeos.”

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