It didn’t take Stanley Neff long to figure out the sport of team roping. Although he and his younger brother, Matthew, picked up the habit just four short years ago, they have each won a coveted World Series of Team Roping Heartland Finale title, with Stanley most recently winning the #12 Heartland in Graham, Texas, with partner, Nick Abbott.
“I don’t know if there are any brothers out there that have each won at two different Heartland ropings like we have, but I think it’s pretty cool,” said Stanley, adding that he enjoys spending time with Matthew in the roping pen, and that the common interest has brought the two closer together.
Neff, of Colorado City, Texas, and his heeler, Nick Abbott, of Bluff Dale, Texas, rope together in the practice pen almost every night. As a duo, however, this was the first check they’ve earned together—winning the Heartland #12 Finale with a total time of 33.46 seconds on four steers, making them victorious over the 308 teams entered. The two took home saddles, buckles, and $44,970 for their efforts—their cut of the impressive $254,400 total payout.
“We went in there knowing we needed to make clean runs and ended up coming into the short round with a 25 flat,” said Neff. “Lots of people missed or legged up in the short round, so our run wasn’t anything fancy, but it was clean—I guess it was just our day.”
“My brother and I both bought horses and just started to rope,” Neff said of his fairly recent introduction to the sport. “This year I have been roping off of a horse we call Ruby, and he is, by far, one of the biggest contributors to our win in Graham.”
Bobby Mote had the horse, but he wasn’t actually for sale when a friend encouraged Neff to go try him.
“When I went out to Bobby’s house we just absolutely connected,” Neff said of his mount. “He definitely makes me rope better. He is really one-of-a-kind and he is very talented. I think Kate (Mote) has done some barrel racing on him and Bobby even did a little mounted shooting on him. He really likes granola bars, so that’s what we give him for treats.”
Though Neff has only owned the 15-year-old gelding for about a year and a half, the two have been cashing in all summer, winning almost $40,000 since Memorial Day. After winning the first and third hole in Hamilton on Memorial Day, the USTRC #12 and the #12 Gold Plus the following weekend in San Angelo, and the Robertson Hill Ranch #11 the weekend before Graham, Neff went in for the big Heartland money on a winner’s high.
“I am really blessed. I had a great little run right there around the Heartland, and I just hope I can do it again here soon,” he said.
As for his success in the roping pen, Neff is very grateful for the friends he has made in the arena and credits them for much of his success.
“I think when we started out we knew it was important to surround ourselves with great ropers,” Neff explained. “I have a lot of friends that are very talented and I get to rope and practice with them all the time. When we’re roping, I think it really helps me to watch them and just try to pick up on their skills. I really appreciate all of them and the help they’ve offered me the last few years.”
Nick Abbott is no stranger to the horses’ mouth. He spends his days working as a horse dentist, and although he considers equine dentistry his occupation, he treats his roping like a job as well.
“Even when I get home and I’m tired, I still make myself go out and rope, and just try to get better every day,” said Abbott. “Treating it as a business really helps me stay motivated and keep moving forward.”
As for teaming up with his practice partner for the Heartland, things just seemed to fall into place.
“Roping with Stan is just easy,” Abbott said of his header. “We practice every single night together, and he always has such a positive attitude. Even when things aren’t going well, I’ll look over and he has a smile on his face and finds a way to laugh. There’s just never any pressure.”
In contrast to his partner, Abbott began roping at a young age. His mom would take him down the road to practice with their neighbor, David Gaddis, to whom Abbott accredits his love for the sport. Abbott currently rides a 13-year-old gelding named Shorty.
“I don’t even know where to begin with what makes him special,” he said. “I have owned Shorty since he was 4 years old. He is just a great horse; he is the same every time you’re on him and just gives you the opportunity to win every go.”
Outside of the arena, Abbott likes to hunt all over his home state of Texas, but he also enjoys taking trips north to Wyoming to elk hunt whenever he gets a chance.
With such a busy schedule, Abbott really appreciates the WSTR Heartland Finales.
“To have an opportunity to rope for that kind of money without having to drive too far is truly unbelievable,” Abbott said. “For me, it’s only about twenty minutes away, so being able to compete for that much money right in my backyard is just unlike anything else.”
#12 Heartland Finale
Total Payout: $254,400
Produced by: Shelley Productions
Date: June 12, 2015 - 308 Teams
1. Stanley Neff / Nick Abbott / 33.46 on four / $44,970
2. Todd Crumb / Kent Nixon / 33.95 / $34,750
3. Ryan Pollard / Craig Stevens / 34.34 / $24,530
4. Buddy Reed / Austin Harris / 34.8 / $18,400
5. Pake Stamper / David William Trammell / 35.69 / $16,350