Twenty-one-year-old Shane Philipp, with Jim Cooper on the heel end, bested veteran headers David Key, Charles Pogue, Tee Woolman and Trevor Brazile (in that order) to win the 36th Annual Windy Ryon Memorial Roping in Saginaw, Texas over Memorial Day weekend.
The festivities, which generated more than $20,000 in scholarships this year, include an invitational calf roping and steer roping along with the annual Open roping. Over the past 35 years, the three-day event has contributed nearly a half-million dollars to charities like the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund and to local kids in 4-H, FFA, and high school rodeo. It was started in 1973 to honor the memory of "Windy" Ryon, a cowboy and businessman who founded a saddle shop in Fort Worth's historic Stockyards, just south of today's Windy Ryon Arena in Saginaw.
Held during a lull in big pro rodeos under the Texas sunshine, the roping continually draws some of the biggest names in the business, including Brazile, who drove over from nearby Decatur each day to place in all three of his signature events and earn a cool $12,652 on the weekend.
In fact, Brazile was the second-high call header in the short round of the team roping, but opened the door for Philipp and Cooper when he and his partner took a no-time. Philipp and Cooper only needed a long 7 to take the win and got it done quicker, coming tight on four steers in 27.66 seconds to win the roping by a half-second and pocket $8,568.
"It was a good roping," Philipp said. "Tough. There wasn't much room for error."
In fact, when the dust settled, less than five-tenths of a second separated the second- through sixth-place teams. Philipp actually had a chance to "ace-deuce 'em" with his older brother, John, but broke out on their third steer.
He was riding his new best stick, Dollar, an 8-year-old bald-faced sorrel grandson of Colonel Freckles that his family picked up as a 3-year-old. The Philipps' horses are known for talent, and another of Shane's horses, Gus, was named 2008 Head Horse of the Year in the Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association last year.
Last fall at the USTRC Finals in Oklahoma City is when the bald-faced streaker first turned heads, and Shane later used the horse at the Wildfire Open to the World and at rodeos in Fort Worth and Denver.
"I haven't gotten off of him since," said Philipp, although he uses his little sorrel "ducker," He-Man, in the smaller buildings.
Philipp's been jackpot roping with the pros since he was 15 (that was the year he entered his first BFI), but said this was probably his biggest win to date, aside from placing second at Rich Skelton's Rope for the Gold roping this winter, which also came courtesy of Dollar.
"He's been a big factor for me jackpotting, since he's so fast," said Philipp, who will head at the rodeos this summer for Colorado-turned-Arizona heeler Brock Hanson.
Forty of the world's best tie-down ropers were invited to showcase their talents at the Windy Ryon, and Hunter Herrin ended up besting second-place Brazile for that accolade. Herrin tied three head in 29.72 seconds to earn $7,255.