Kaden Richard is just carrying on a family tradition. Just as his brother Rhen did in 2008, Kaden won the Resistol Rookie of the Year honors in the team roping. While Rhen won it as a heeler roping with Nick Sartain, Kaden took the honor as a header, spinning steers for his older brother.
"The experience was awesome—especially being with my brother who won the rookie a couple years prior to this," Kaden said. "He’s been on the road and knows what it’s like to do it and that was dang sure a big help. If you miss one or two, you kind of start fighting your head and he knows what it’s like to go through that. He roped with Nick Sartain and Matt Sherwood for the two years before I roped with him and so they had taught him that when times get tough you just have to bear down, keep your head up and keep going at them."
Richard, from Roosevelt, Utah, won $29,048, which placed him 40th among headers for the season. Nearly a third of those winnings came in one flurry at the end of July.
"We won the first round at Cheyenne," he said. "That week of Cheyenne, we won $10,000. We won Preston, Idaho, and won Castle Dale, Utah."
The brothers also won the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo in Casper, the Springville (Calif.) Sierra Rodeo and were the co-champs of the Silver State Stampede in Elko, Nev.
On the heeling side, Matt Garza, of Las Cruces, N.M., won $25,393 and placed 43rd. He was the co-champion of the Poway (Calif.) Rodeo and won a round in El Paso heeling for David Key. Garza also won the College National Finals Rodeo with Chance Means in 2006.
With his rookie season under his belt, Richard is planning to go all out in 2011.
"We’re going to get after it for sure. We’re going to start in the winter and keep on it all year," he said. "It hasn’t registered yet, but you can only be a rookie one time and it’s going to be with me for the rest of my life. I’m pumped up."
The all-around rookie of the year, Ace Slone, also won the tie-down rookie honors, but added some drama to his rookie season, trying to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on a bum knee.
Slone was eighth in the world standings when he tore is right posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) during California Rodeo Salinas in July. He had borrowed a horse and saddle and sustained the injury when he twisted his knee coming off the horse.
Against doctors’ orders, Slone competed at the Justin Boots Playoffs in Puyallup, Wash., and Justin Boots Championships in Omaha, Neb., hoping to keep his dream alive of going to the Finals. He was able to win some money at both rodeos, but had to be assisted out of the arena at both places due to pain from the injury. He dropped to 27th in the world standings, but had about a $20,000 cushion in the tie-down roping rookie race and also was able to hang on to the all-around title.
"I understand that there is a risk of getting hurt in a long career, but the fact that I am 21 adds to the frustration," said Slone, who hopes to be back at full strength in January.
Florida bull rider Dylan Werner won the overall and bull riding rookie titles by virtue of a $54,180 season, $1,885 of which came in the bareback riding. Slone was second and earned $46,461 in all-around money, including his $3,768 heading. The rookie standard is the same as that for the world standings: You have to earn at least $3,000 in at least two events, since Werner only made $1,885 in bareback riding he wasn’t eligible for the all-around.
The other Resistol Rookies of the Year: bareback riding – Ty Breuer, Mandan, N.D., $25,231; steer wrestling – Cody Moore, Artesia, N.M., $24,800; saddle bronc riding – Troy Crowser, Whitewood, S.D., $21,861; and steer roping – Gannon Quimby, Mannford, Okla., $11,706.
The rookies will be recognized on Resistol Rookie Night, Dec. 7, during the Wrangler NFR at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.