Clay Futrell, 21, has taken a major lead in the Resistol Rookie heeling race. The young heeler, originally from Union Grove, North Carolina, is No.1 in the Resistol Rookie standings and 26th in the PRCA world standings with $18,059.00 in PRCA season earnings.
"It feels good to know that I have a good lead," said Futrell, who attends Cisco (Texas) Junior College. "I haven’t even looked at it. I’m just trying to keep catching and make the NFR. I’m not trying to focus or look at that. I’m trying to stay focused on the big goal right now and just let it take care of itself."
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Futrell, who lives in Stephenville, Texas during the school year, first moved to Texas and lived with 2020 RFD-TV's The American Champion Header and current PRCA world standings leader Luke Brown during his senior year of high school. He then began working for and roping with Patrick Smith.
"Luke Brown has helped me a bunch because he let me come and live with him through my senior year of high school," Futrell said. "My favorite one to talk to is Patrick. I think he’s such a good guy inside and outside the arena. I look up to Patrick a lot. Luke has helped me by letting me live with him and practicing with him a bunch. Another one that has helped me a bunch is Martin Lucero. Whenever I’m home I’ll go practice with him a bunch. He’s one that keeps everything simple."
Futrell is teamed up with the 2020 Lone Star Shootout champion header, and second cousin Cory Kidd V.
“We’re pretty much like brothers," Futrell said about Kidd. "We’ve always lived close to each other. He’s helped me a lot throughout the years growing up and what not. He stays at our place in Stephenville. I’ve always wanted to rope with him. Last fall he said he didn’t think that he was going to rodeo many more years and wanted to at least help me as much as he could, so that’s kind of how it came about. I was excited about it. He’s spun a lot of steers."
Futrell picked up heeling in 2011 when his father asked Oklahoma's Bronc Fanning to come teach him the ropes.
“He’s helped me the most since day one," Futrell said. "My dad hired him to come teach me how to heel. That was in 2011 and I still talk to him just about every day."
Around the same time that Fanning started helping Futrell with his heeling, Futrell's father came home from the Western Livestock Sale in Fort Worth, Texas with two colts in the trailer—one being the sorrel gelding that he is roping on in ProRodeo today. Futrell and his now 12-year-old heel horse, Cutter, have been partners since the very beginning for both of their roping careers.
“I started him whenever I first started roping when Bronc started coming and helping me. We started roping the sled, so he’s what I started heeling on. He didn’t know anything, and I didn’t know anything. I roped the sled on him for probably a year, and then my dad bought me an older horse that was already finished that I started junior rodeoing on. I let my older brother take him (Cutter) and rope steers on him to season and finish him, and then I’ve had him ever since. He’s been a great horse.”
With a few months left in ProRodeo's regular season and a lot more money to be won, Futrell is focusing on trying to keep everything as simple as possible and possibly break into the top 15.
"The more I try to overthink it and try to do too many things correct it goes bad. We stayed at Rhen Richard’s the other week and I was talking to Jeremy Buhler about it. He said that for him when he tries to do everything perfect instead of just reacting it goes bad, so that’s the biggest thing that I’ve been trying to do. I’ve amateur rodeoed a bunch so I know what I have to do. I just need to react.”
Resistol Rookie Heading Standings:
1. Britt Smith, $16,107.11
2. Tanner Tomlinson, $11,345.86
3. Lathen Bryant, $5,119.72
4. Ryan Pope, $4,476.42
5. Jaxson Tucker, $3,614.63
6. Whit Harper, $2,891.67
7. Kade Smith, $2,479.30
8. Coy Rahlmann, $2,268.42
9. Zane Murphy, $1,799.53
10. Ric LeBlanc, $1,017.43
Resistol Rookie Heeling Standings:
1. Clay Futrell, $18,059.00
2. Zak Dobbins, $7,047.87
3. Eddie Medina, $5,512.70
4. Blaine Courson, $3,313.29
5. Tanner McInerney, $3,161.11
6. Abdiel Zamora, $2,246.17
7. Joshua Smitherman, $2,246.15
8. Matt Schieck, $1,628.09
9. Jacob Goddard, $1,607.56
10. Jared Fillmore, $1,592.61