Photo by Brian Gauck
Number and end
: I’m a 4+ header in the USTRC and World Series and a 4 heeler.
Association of preference: I’ve enjoyed the USTRC for the most number of years and I’m relatively new to the World Series.
Rope of choice: It varies. In the winter, I use the Classic Heat, extra soft head rope because it holds up so well in the cold and the humidity of the indoor barns. I also use a Mach III Fastback.
Biggest win: Probably the first big USTRC win I had with Jim Helzer. In November of 2003—the year I started team roping—we won what would be equivalent to the #9 and #8 incentive. It was an exciting roping. It was the first time I met Jim, and we won the whole darn thing. We actually roped in some PRCA rodeos and I won my first pro check with Jim heeling left-handed for me.
Your favorite roping: In my experience, I enjoy all the USTRC ropings up and down the Front Range of Colorado. I’ve really enjoyed the ones in Denver because I’ve had a fair bit of luck there and it’s a terrific venue.
Best horse you’ve ever ridden: If it’s one horse, it’s my current No. 1. We call him Bird, and he’s a 15-year-old that I’ve owned since he was 4. He scores amazing, breaks really flat, is cowy and rate—and has a big move in the field. He’s strong off the saddle horn and he’s as good as I ride him. He’s a very versatile horse. I leased him to Jhett Johnson to heel off of for one spring and he hauled him to the ProRodeos.
Why you rope: I think the thing I enjoy the most is it’s an extremely challenging sport, and I like the competition and challenge of getting better. Most particularly, I like the partnership with the horse. I ride several different horses and every one of them teaches me something and I get a huge kick out of doing a good job with a horse. This whole roping industry, whether the amateur ranks or the professionals, is full of just great people that share a common interest. I’ve really enjoyed that.
Competition philosophy: I practice a lot—in every possible way—and when I get to competition, I try not to overthink everything and just rope my roping.
Tell me about your family: My wife, Marcia, of 33 years, is a big supporter. She enjoys her own horse things—mostly working with them on the ground since she’s had a few surgeries. Megan, our oldest daughter, is married to Tyler who rides bareback horses professionally and heels for me here at the house sometimes. Our youngest daughter, Madeline, grew up 4-H riding horses and she and her husband live in Chicago where she goes to graduate school.
Tell me about your real job: My first career was as a scientist. It’s a reasonably well-kept secret that I have a Ph.D. I was an academic professor and did research in infectious diseases. Back in 1988, I cofounded a company named Heska Corporation. I was a science founder but ended up taking over as CEO at the company and ran the company for 15 years. A year ago, I stepped aside and now I’m the executive chairman. It’s a publicly traded company with 300 employees and $90 million a year in revenue. It’s been an interesting path—none of us really pick our careers.