Blankenship and McGuire Jump Ride Way to Riata Buckle #12.5 Slide All-Ages Title
Hickory Holly Time has taken the stallion title in the first two team ropings of the Riata Buckle's inaugural event.
Kirby Blankenship and JD McGuire

Kirby Blankenship, a 9.5 heeler by trade, had never seen the head horse—Twisted Hickory Time—he was supposed to ride Nov. 4 in the Lazy E in the Riata Buckle’s Handi-High L1 #12.5 All-Ages Championship, but that didn’t matter too much.

That same 5-year-old horse owned by Wesley Thorp and Shawn Grey? He’d also never been to a jackpot on the head side, but that didn’t matter, either.

J.D. McGuire has been busy in the oilfield and being a dad to his two girls, and he’d never swung a leg over the 4-year-old heel horse—Canteburys Cherrey—he rode, even though he owned him. BUT, that didn’t matter, either.

All results and payout are unofficial pending audit. Stallion and breeder results will be posted as it becomes available.

In the end, they roped four steers in 31.25 seconds to win $60,000 on futurity horses when they could have been riding seasoned horses of any age in the Riata Buckle Handi-High L1 #12.5 All Ages Championship. Plus, DT Horses banked another $9,504 thanks to the horse Blankenship rode—Twisted Hickory Time—being the nominated horse of the duo, earning the stallion-owner payout thanks to Hickory Holly Time. Breeders Chris and Melissa Garbrick will also earn $4,752 from Twisted Hickory Time’s performance.

Riata Buckle Futurity | Kirby Blankenship and Twisted Hickory Time
Kirby Blankenship and Twisted Hickory Time, by Riata Stallion Hickory Holly Time, celebrate their win with JD McGuire at the Riata Buckle. | Andersen/CBarC Photography


Blankenship, 23, from Lampasas, Texas, and McGuire, 37, from Midland, Texas, made four rock-solid runs without many bobbles for the win.

“The first run we went 8, and then we were two 7s,” Blankenship explained of their day. “Our second steer was so good and our third steer was even better. In the short round, second callback had to turn theirs out, and they got ours. When I saw they turned him out, I knew it was game over because that little mousy steer looked too good.”

They had to be 7.69, but they didn’t know that.

“When we rode in there, both of us rode in there and got in there fast enough that Cade or Dru didn’t have time to figure out what we needed to be,” McGuire added. “Andy Holcomb was 6 or something, and he made a good run. We figured we might have half a second on them. But we knew we had to be aggressive. Kirby got out and snapped it on him, I heeled him, and when we were riding forward Dru said we had to be 7.6 and we were 7.5.”

12.5 All Ages Riata Buckle Kirby Blankenship JD McGuire
Kirby Blankenship on Twisted Hickory Time and JD McGuire on Canteburys Cherrey winning the Handi-High L1 #12.5 All-Ages Championship at the Riata Buckle in the Lazy E Arena. | Andersen/CBarC Photography

Opportunity Knocking

Blankenship, 23, trains horses for a living, so of course he’d figured out something to ride in the Pro Futurity. But as the Riata Buckle crept closer, he became more aware of the opportunities that it would bring in the lower divisions, too.

“Shawn called me on Wednesday, and he asked if I wanted to ride the horse,” Blankenship said. “Five minutes later, he said JD McGuire wanted to rope, and he took care of putting us down.”

For McGuire, it was Grey, who talked him into coming in the first place.

“Shawn said, ‘Hey do you have an extra hole still?” McGuire explained. “I was just entered once with Cody Wheeler. And Shawn’s the one who said we need to come up here. When Shawn asked me, I was trying to figure out which horses we were bringing, and not overcommit—which is what team ropers do—but at the end of the day, we got it lined out. And I told Shawn I was going to ride my 4-year-old, and he said, ‘Do you think you need to ride something more seasoned? Because the horse Kirby is going to ride hasn’t ever been headed on at a jackpot.’ And I said, ‘We’re either going to win it or we’re not, because this is our only option right here.’ And here we are. I never try to miss an opportunity to tell Shawn he was wrong.”


The ‘head horse’ Thorp and Grey call Beatbox had already won $8,210 for sixth in the Pro Futurity under Thorp and behind the sharp spins of Cody Snow. And he was team 109 in the #12.5 on the heel side, making it back to the short round in seventh call but having bad luck there. Blankenship and McGuire were team 111, but luckily there was an arena drag in between those runs.

Watch Kirby Blankenship win The American Rodeo Contender Series Semifinals in Abilene, Texas.

By Hickory Holly Time and out of the mare Playmate Centerfold by Smart Mate, Twisted Hickory Time didn’t mind the work one bit, and he stayed flat and relaxed throughout the back-and-forth.

“I just jumped on him, and Wesley gave me some instructions,” Blankenship said. “He said he’ll be ratey and green starting. So honestly, I got a pretty good jump on everyone. I cheated the system.”

The heel horse, 4-year-old Canteburys Cherrey by Cantebury Cat out of the Dual Rey mare Cherrey, was started in the heeling by Hunter Koch, and he was supposed to show at this year’s ARHFA World Championship. But Koch had sent the standout prospect home to McGuire to ride for a bit, and McGuire never got to it with his life’s obligations. So his good friend TyDaniel Haller took the horse, and he had a blast bringing him along all summer.

“I told TyDaniel I’d come get him in a week or so,” McGuire said. “They take such good care of all the horses, and then I said I’d come get him in two weeks, and then it’s been five months. Then Hunter asked when I was sending him back for the futurity, and I asked when we had to enter. He said we needed to enter in September, and it was already October. We didn’t get him in the rope horse futurity, but this worked out.

Kirby Blankenship and JD McGuire
Blankenship and McGuire sealing the deal in the Riata Buckle’s Handi-High L1 #12.5 All-Ages Championship. | Andersen/CBarC Photography

“TyDaniel rode him in the Open, but we had to swap saddles,” McGuire added. “TyDaniel’s saddle is for kids, so we had to put a grown man’s saddle on for this roping.”

    #12.5 Slide All Age
131.25Kirby BlankenshipJD McGuire$60,000$30,000
231.38Hagen ThomasAndy Holcomb$43,000$21,500
331.8Kylie McLeanChad L. Smith$30,000$15,000
432.05Lacey FeltonZane Bruce$23,000$11,500
533.62Reed BoosTavis Walters$20,250$10,125
633.82Ben WalkerJared Hall$17,500$8,750
734.33Tavis WaltersClay D Hurst$15,000$7,500
834.35Brady KyleTJ Good$12,000$6,000
934.36Clay D HurstLuke Miller$10,000$5,000
1034.87Slick RobisonJohnRyon Foster$10,000$5,000
1137.78Brooke WilsonTyDaniel Haller$6,500$3,250
1239.24Clay DeenBen Tibbitts$6,500$3,250
Fast Time Round 1 & 2
15.73Kenna FrancisKade E Smith$1,500 $750 
26.11Bubba GarciaRiley Smith$1,500$750
36.14Brett MartinChancey Spencer$1,500$750
46.16Clay BurnhamJose Ordonez$1,500$750
56.26Tarrant StewartRhett Nelson$1,500$750
#13.5 Team Not Placing in Slide
125.89James WatsonRhyder Nelson$4,000 $2,000 
225.96Lance HornerBritt Williams$3,000$1,500
#12.5 Team Not Placing in Slide
140.92Tripp TownsendJesse Valdez$4,000 $2,000 
225.52Shawn GrayKade E Smith$3,000$1,500
#11.5 Team Not Placing in Slide
131.28Rylie SmithCutter Duckett$4,000 $2,000 
232.17Jim BrinkmanJon Pudwill$3,000$1,500
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