down in the south

Zack Mabry Out Front in Southeastern Circuit by $7K
Bradley Massey and Zack Mabry lead the Southeastern Circuit with $21,349.30, giving Mabry a lead of $7,428.80 on the heel side.
Bradley Massey and Zack Mabry earlier in the spring at the 153rd Silver Spurs Rodeo. | Tonya Evans photo

Zack Mabry, along with his header Bradley Massey, have taken the 2024 Southeastern Circuit by storm, sitting No. 1 with $21,349.30 won on the year.

Piedmont, Alabama, native Mabry has a $7,428.80 lead in the circuit, and the 2019 Southeastern Circuit champion heeler is searching for his second year-end title.

“It would mean a lot to me,” Mabry said of winning another year-end title. “Obviously for a guy who’s just a circuit guy, that’s kind of what he can set out to do. Anytime you get a chance to win it, it means a lot to have that chance.”

The 33-year-old, who when he’s home rides and trains horses, runs broodmares and 300 head of cows, feels like things have gone their way in 2024.

“We’ve had a good year and we’ve caught some breaks and done good at some of the bigger rodeos in our circuit,” Mabry said. “Obviously it means a lot to do good anytime. I’ve had a good partner and he’s got good horses right now, and it’s kind of went our way.”

Early bird gets the worm

Massey and Mabry got an early start to their 2024 season, picking up $2,482 a man for second at Northwest Florida Championship Rodeo in Bonifay Oct. 5-7, 2023, and $2,865 each after winning the 10th Annual Arcadia Fall Rodeo (Florida) Oct. 21-22. That jumpstart set the tone for their season.

“We got off to an early start, which kind of gave us some help there at the beginning,” Mabry said. “I guess Bonifay and Arcadia and a couple more of the smaller ones are what got us into Houston and San Antonio. So the early bigger rodeos definitely helped.”

Massey and Mabry first started roping together in 2020 and roped together for a year or two before switching things up in the partner department. They decided to join forces again for 2024, and Bonifay was their first rodeo back.

“We’re pretty good friends,” Mabry said. “We live quite a ways apart; he lives there in North Florida, so a lot of times when I head to Florida, I’ll stop in there and we’ll run a few and go to the rodeos.”

Mabry also credits their horsepower for setting up their season. Though he lost his first-stringer earlier this spring, Mabry has a 5-year-old that’s stepped up to the plate.

“I think when you get things going your way, it seems easier, but we also both had a horse for a while there that darn sure helped us,” Mabry said. “He’s got a horse that he’s really confident on, and I had one until here recently when I lost the horse. But I have a 5-year-old that I’ve been riding and he’s actually doing really good.”

Southeast Ways

Like anywhere, understanding when to put it all on the line and when to just make a solid run is crucial to winning in the Southeast.

“I think it’s no different than anywhere else—you have to catch,” Mabry explained. “There’s some rodeos in our circuit where you can kind of just go make a solid run and catch, and then there’s some bigger rodeos there that they’re dang sure fast. So, knowing the difference of when to go catch and when to go at one, that would be a key. I don’t think anybody’s perfect at that, but it is important.”

February and March are prime time in the Southeastern Circuit with a sizable portion of their rodeos taking place in the spring. But there are still a few opportunities left to widen their lead even more in 2024, as well as some amateur rodeos to prime them for 2025.

“We will just go to the few circuit rodeos that are left, and I’m going to say for us, that probably means somewhere between five to eight rodeos,” Mabry said. “We’re kind of pretty close to done, and then there’s quite a few amateur rodeos around my house. I won’t go to near as many as I used to, but we will go to a few, mainly to kind of keep running some steers and stuff for when we start back October 1.”

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