As Kaleb Driggers attacks the winter rodeo circuit, he’s currently doing so riding a new horse—a 19-year-old gelding WSR Hesa Alive, known as “Transmission.”
Despite their new pairing, the gelding—on loan from lifelong friend Clint Summers—has seen nearly as many years of professional rodeo as the 33-year-old Driggers from Hoboken, Georgia, has. The two nabbed Driggers’ record fourth American Rodeo win with a 3.61-second run.
“Transmission is an exceptional athlete in those small situations when a couple tenths make all the difference in the world,” Driggers said. “Footwork and timing really becomes a huge part of it. Plus, he finishes so strong and fast he allows the run to come together quick.”
Building a Bulletproof Transmission
Bred by the Western States Ranches of Springtown, Texas, Transmission shares blood with salty rope horses including Patrick Smith’s “Rooster”—Riata Buckle stallion Hesa Dunofa Lena. The two are sired by Hesa Sonofa Dun, who was managed throughout most of his breeding career by Wes Adams.
“Hesa Sonofa Dun’s offspring have gone on to do great things,” said Jason Adams, Wes’ son. “Super well behaved, mild-mannered, but they’re strong and they can run. Transmission specifically, he was designed for speed. My dad loved speed and he would always say, ‘You can’t make up for speed.’”
With National Reining Horse Association Futurity Reserve Champion and Derby Champion Hollywood Dun It on the top of his pedigree and racehorse blood including AQHA Hall Of Famer Sugar Bars on the bottom, Transmission was a blend of big, trainable and fast.
Transmission’s first big win came at California Rodeo Salinas in July of 2011 at just 6 years old, with NFR header Jason heading and World Champion brother Randon Adams heeling on Rooster. The success was bittersweet—it followed Wes’ death by mere months.
“My brother ran did a really good job seasoning him,” Jason said of Randon.
“Transmission wasn’t just an accident. He went through the training process as if he was an athlete.”-Jason Adams
“Unfortunately, he came along right at the end of our career,” Jason said. “One of those things where you’re like, ‘Dang, I wish I’d had this son on a gun a few years ago.’”
That next spring, Transmission was sold to family friend JB James, who went on to earn checks at the BFI and in the Mountain States Circuit across nine years aboard the gelding.
At 17 years old, Transmission sold into the hands of another handy roper: two-time NFR qualifier Clint Summers. Summers was preparing for his first NFR as a header and had an eye out for a reliable NFR mount.
“I’ve always liked Transmission, even back when I heeled,” Summers said. “I thought he was one of the best head horses that was going. I never thought he’d be for sale and, when it came about that JB was selling him, we purchased him for the NFR. He was everything I thought and more.”
Plenty of Good Gears
Measuring at least 15.2 hands and long-strided, Transmission isn’t the build most people would expect to see in small setups.
“For a big horse, Transmission moves his feet like a little horse.”– Clint Summers
“Big horses like Transmission are normally rode in the summertime in those bigger arenas, but Transmission does buildings,” Summers said. “I bought him for the NFR, and that’s one of the smallest setups you’ll go to. He gets up the wall and can face super hard.”
Transmission + Driggers = Money
Transmission came into the Driggers’ picture when his world champion horse Remis Gays On Ofadoc, “Cuervo,” was injured, taking him out of the winter rodeo game where he excels. Fortunately for Driggers, help was only one phone call away from his childhood friend.
“Kaleb needed a horse and there was no doubt I was going to help him. As long as I’ve got something, he’s never afoot.”– Clint Summers
Driggers and Transmission clicked almost immediately. Aside from Transmission’s notable size, Driggers says he feels like Cuervo.
“Transmission’s so solid, he backs in there every time with no hesitation, looks dead straight and allows you to only worry about your job,” Driggers said. “When given the chance to get on a veteran horse like him, you take the opportunity.”
A businessman’s run of 5.45 seconds in the long go on Saturday advanced Driggers and Nogueira to the four-man finals—where they went for broke with a 3.61-second run at second out—forcing no-times on the final two teams.
“Transmission’s very laid back, chill, and nothing really bothers him,” Driggers said. “But when the electricity in the building gets to going and he knows it’s game time, you can feel him amp up. I really like the feeling because you know he’s ready and means business.”
Where to Next?
With $100,000 in American Rodeo winnings to fill the gas tank, Driggers, Nogueira and Transmission competed in Rodeo Austin March 13, 2023, topping the go-round with a time of 4.9 seconds. Summers will be taking over the reins to compete in Rodeo Austin on Transmission, too, come March 21, 2023.
“I truly think the reason Transmission is still going is because that horse loves doing what he does.”– Clint Summers