Yes, there were a lot of fancy horses that turned heads at the American Rope Horse Futurity Association World Championship.
But—for those paying close attention—Kaleb Driggers and Brock Hanson were perhaps the two most impressive performers at this year’s 2023 ARHFA World Championship in their roles as helpers for 130 and 171 runs, respectively, over the three days of competition.
Driggers headed 130 steers, missing just one, fishing one on and breaking the barrier on another (a fact that’s probably still eating him up). Hanson—who just started making a gig out of helping at the rope horse futurities mid-summer—headed 93 steers, with two barriers and two misses. He heeled 78 steers and only roped one leg over three days’ competition.
“I wish that I could help everyone that ask, but it’s not physically possible,” Driggers said. “The guys that I help at the finals are the same guys that I help all year. All of them do not show up to all the same events all year, so I don’t have to run quite as many as I do at Fort Worth, but I run quite a few throughout the year. I enjoy it. I like to try and place the steer where the heel horse has the best place to show. The timing of the run and the horse dictate a lot of where the steer needs to go and when he needs to be turned and pulled. I enjoy doing that. But you have to be on a pretty good horse in order to be able to do that consistently. That arena isn’t very big, and kind of oval shaped, so it’s not the easiest place to rope.”
Driggers rode five different horses to help, including the 80-or-so runs he put on two of his best rodeo horses, Oliver and Gangster. Hanson, who brings his own string of help horses to every show, rodeo nine horses—six on the head side and three on the heel side.
“Brock can do both, and since he’s able to do both, he’s not worried about showing and getting other horses ready, his main focus is helping,” Ryan Motes said. “To be a good helper is pretty hard, and it’s mentally grueling. He’s always had that type of mindset. He ropes two feet a lot, and he doesn’t set himself up to take bad chances. He leaves there ready to run all the way to them and rope them sharp. When you’re not worried about anything but catching, it sure helps you keep your focus. He’s got one of the best head loops in the world, and he’s consistently comfortable roping a lot of steers around the horns. He brings a great set of head horses, and he understands what it takes to do it. I talked him into helping at Graham, and the first one we went to we won. And his runs grew quickly every time we went somewhere. He’s started in his way of roping, you get a handful of people with the mental grit and ability to stay hooked and focused. He’s as good of helper as there is.”