Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I have four businesses right now. I have a service company in the oilfield, a rental company of apartments and condos, my wife has a successful jewelry company called Goldie Lew (after twins Goldie and Poppy Lew), and I own a share of PWR PRO CBD with Kaycee.
Q: Your little sister, Maclee, is married to team roper Jade Anderson, right?
A: Yes, Jade’s won the Wilderness Circuit team roping title several times, and now works two weeks on and two weeks off up in North Dakota. Jade and my dad were partners on a water truck company that services oilfields. After Dad died (six years ago of pancreatic cancer), Jade took over the company.
Q: I remember your dad telling me he let you start riding bareback horses too young and, lessons learned, he started Kaycee later. When did you start team roping?
A: I started getting on bucking horses in seventh or eighth grade, when I weighed maybe 95 pounds. I got hurt three or four times right off the bat, and didn’t get a very good taste for it. When the gene to ride bucking horses skipped over me and went to Kaycee, I started team roping in high school.
Q: Do you consider yourself a header or a heeler, and how do they have you numbered?
A: I probably head better, but I heel about 90 percent of the time. I was a 6 header and a 7 heeler before the accident. Since the accident, I’m a 5+ both ways.
Q: Please tell those who don’t know you’re a walking-miracle plane-crash survivor about that.
A: On August 7, 2020, Jaz and I, another couple and their 16-year-old twin boys were out sightseeing. We had engine failure, and crashed in the high Uinta Mountains.
Q: What saved you?
A: I’ve worked extremely hard to become a good pilot. I went to Alaska to go through bush pilot training one summer, and another summer took aerobatic/upset recovery training. It all came in handy that day when we needed it, and saved our lives.
Q: What were your injuries, and how do they affect you today?
A: I had a T-12 burst fracture, which left me partially paralyzed from the waist down. I have no bowel or bladder function, my calf muscles don’t work at all, and I can only feel about 10 percent of my feet. My hamstrings and glutes are starting to wake up a little bit. They told me in the hospital I was paralyzed and might never walk again. I am walking, and I work my butt off at physical therapy every day. The night before the accident, I competed in a cross-fit tournament. I set a goal in the hospital to compete a year later in another one. It had to be highly modified, but I got it done. I do a lot of public speaking now, and am sharing my journey (which recently included stem-cell treatments in Mexico) on Instagram.
Q: Are you back to roping?
A: Yes, I started roping again about four months after the accident. I tied my feet in the stirrups, tied my stirrups to my breast collar, and I tied my belt to the back of the saddle. But I’m strong enough now that I don’t have to do all that anymore.
Q: Your dear dad was a world-class bucking-horse rider who earned five gold buckles at the roughstock end of the arena. But because he also loved to team rope, he won three coveted Linderman Award buckles for success at both ends of the arena in 1981, ’88 and ’91. How much did your dad team rope?
A: He loved to rope, and it was what we did together. Neither of us was ever going to make a living team roping, but some of the best memories with my dad are from the time we spent team roping together. We roped together at Pendleton and Salinas, and at the ropings held during the rodeos at Reno and Cheyenne. Those trips the two of us took together were pretty special.
Q: Kaycee team ropes too, huh? How much and how well?
A: Not much and pretty well. Kaycee heads and heels pretty good, and really likes to rope. He’s gone so much, and doesn’t really have a horse. He’s talking about getting a good horse and jackpotting with me more as he gets older.
Q: How much do you rope with Rhen?
A: He lives right across the road, and we rope about every day. All three of my boys rope. The two younger ones are starting to rope quite a bit now. And the girls love to ride their pony, Cupcake Connie, when we rope.
Q: Your oldest son, Daxtyn, won the Wrangler BFI Reno Hooey Jr #10.5 Roping heading for Howdy Jackson in June 2020. How exciting was that as a parent?
A: It was probably more exciting for Mom and me than him. It’s really fulfilling as parents to see your kids’ hard work pay off. That kid’s in the barn and in the arena all the time. To see the fruits of all his hard work in the form of success is pretty awesome.
Q: Why, in your eyes, is team roping such a great family sport?
A: Because we can all do it together. We practice together, and we compete together. The number system allows us all to go enjoy the sport together, regardless of what number we are. TRJ