Number and end: 4 Elite header
Rope of choice: Fast Back Mach 3. I’ve used a lot of Fast Back and Cactus Ropes. I’ve roped a bunch with Al Benson, and that rope is pretty versatile. I use the XS and XXS and there’s a lot of versatility there. The feel and balance is great. They hold up well and they’re durable. I’ve always liked the three strands, maybe I’m a little old school.
Biggest win: I was somebody who roped in high school and college with not a lot of success. I went back to roping seriously about 12 years ago. I went to the Coors Finals in Abilene, and I placed in the average. At the time, it was the biggest check I’d won. It was like $2,500, but it was a tough roping. I felt like I’d kind of made it on a level beyond the backyard pumpkin-roller roping. I’ve done well at some other places, and gotten bigger checks at some bigger places, but that was probably the most memorable big roping.
Favorite roping: I like the 40-Plus ropings they’re having here. They’re fun and enjoyable. The ropings I’ve gone to at the Circle T Arena in Hamilton, Texas, they’re some of my favorites. I won a roping there with Dakota Kirchenschlager. That’s a buckle I’ll hang onto forever. Circle T is just my favorite facility. Another favorite is the ProAm at the Spicer Gripp. I’ve only been there once, but I’ll go back. You get to hang out with all of those high-numbered ropers and it’s a lot of fun.
Day job: I’m the executive director of the National Ranching Heritage Center.
How does team roping fit in with your day job?: Luckily, there are different equine disciplines where the people in the ranching community, be it ranch owners or day-work cowboys, can gather together. That can be cutting, ranch horse competitions, ropings or rodeos. I’ve just found that when I go to a roping, especially in this part of the world, I’m liable to be rubbing shoulders with people who are doing their best to make a living on a ranch somewhere. Ranching is a tough industry to make a living in with this drought. The cool thing about a roping is a place where these men and women can come and spend a relaxing afternoon and not have to worry about the drought or the other challenges of roping, and the comradery helps get us through. It’s helped me professionally. It’s helped open doors and helped promote the National Ranching Heritage Center. It’s been a great pastime to complement me both personally and professionally.
Best horse you’ve ever ridden: The horse I have right now. I call him Peso. He’s a Cutter Bill bred horse. Not the kind of bloodline you expect to see in a good head horse. He’s 18 years old. He’s taken me to the pay window more often than I deserve. Fortunately, he’s structurally correct. He’s got a big engine, and as long as I don’t abuse him, I know I can get a few more good years out of him. When his days are over, I can guarantee you he’s got a good retirement. When he was 15 or so, I began to work on other maneuvers—ranch horse competition-style maneuvers, like rollbacks and spins. I regret that I wasn’t doing some of that on him when he was a younger horse. I’m convinced he would have really made something beyond a roping horse.
Biggest influence on your roping: That would be Dave Motes and Clay Cooper. I’ve been fortunate enough to rope with both of them a good deal. Their passion for the sport, their passion for their horses—they’ve taught me so much and inspired me so much. Every time around them, they get me pumped up to rope.
Why do you rope?: I was like any other 10-year-old kid who got the roping bug. It started out with the thrill of chasing something down the pen and getting a rope on him and trying to make something happen. Today, it’s more about the horse than anything else. I went to an event held north of Stephenville called the Cowboy Spring Gathering. This was an event that had a team roping, pasture roping, ranch horse versatility class and a sorting. I rode that horse in all four events. I won the team roping, I won the ranch horse versatility, and placed fourth in the pasture roping. The fact that that horse was named top horse of the whole weekend—that was just special. That top horse breastcollar means more than any buckle. The fact that the horse excelled in the team roping, pasture roping and versatility—it made my month, it may have made my year. It’s not just about making horses that will chase a steer down the pen and face. It’s about a horse that can take the tie down off, ride with a pair of split reins, and then go make a hand on a ranch somewhere.