Blain Bradley makes his living with his horse and his rope, just not the same horse and the same rope with which he won the #12 Heartland Finale in Graham, Texas. A hand at fellow World Series of Team Roping member Monroe Timberlake’s ranch, Bradley took the weekend off to drive the five hours to Graham to rope with Atlee Snyder in the #12 Heartland Finale.
While he may have lost his wages for the weekend, Bradley would pick up $18,625 for winning the #12 with Snyder and another $6,985 for placing fifth in the same roping with Cyle Sharp.
“I never had a weekend that good,” Bradley said. “And all the money is sitting in a new white Ford pickup now. I’d needed a new one, I’d just had an old Dodge that got me by.”
Snyder, the other half of the #12-winning duo, didn’t necessarily have to clock out to go to the Shelley Productions roping that weekend. While Snyder works for himself at his oilfield services company and his cow-calf operation, he did have to pull himself away from his busy schedule to fit roping in.
“I spend my weeks filling in holes, basically,” Snyder laughed. “I don’t really have any set thing I do all week. Just whatever needs done. I’d rather be at the ranch than in the oil fields, but they both pay the bills. I’ve never had a single weekend roping like this, though, so this money is going to go back into my roping fund.”
The team would be 30.68 on four head after coming back second high call to the short round.
“We really just drew four good steers and made four smooth runs,” Snyder said. “I knew if I turned them Blain would clean it up. We drew fairly well, and luckily for us high call missed.”
With the pressure on the high call team, Snyder’s plan was to go out and make a smooth run and see where the cards fell. They’d never roped together before, but their consistent yet aggressive styles meant, “They didn’t need to talk much about what needed done on that short round steer,” Snyder said.
While Snyder was a bit more relaxed, Bradley wasn’t shy about his nerves before the short round. Coming back seventh with Sharp and second with Snyder, he needed some time to gain his composure. So with 63 teams making it back for their fourth steer, Bradley slipped back to his trailer to think about everything. He’d only pop back out to watch the roping with about 15 teams left.
“I was really smooth and kind of kicked around him for Cyle,” Bradley said. “I should have been faster there. For Atlee, it just happened faster. I exposed myself on all of them pretty much. I was roping to win, not to place. But then, on the short round steer with Atlee, I roped him but I lost my slack with my right hand. You can see it in the picture, I’m holding him with my left hand and trying to reach down and grab my slack and not lose a leg. It was the scariest thing that’s happened to me, especially with that much money on the line.”
Bradley’s horse, Hatley, would help him through that near disaster, as the gelding kept pedaling forward on his front end until he could get dallied.
“He never stops until its over, and Atlee kept that steer out in front of me,” Bradley said. “My horse came from Casey Hatley, and Monroe (Timberlake) bought him a few years ago at the Town & Country parking lot in Tatum, New Mexico. Monroe and I rope all the time, and he bucked Monroe off. So he turned him over to me, and I rode him out in the pasture and worked on him. He will buck. I’ve got to keep him rode down, at least three times a week. And I’ve got to ride him a lot before I go run my first one. You can’t just lope him off. You’ve got to jog him a while first. But after you get him by that, he’s all you can ask for.”
Snyder wasn’t exactly riding a kid-safe horse, either. Rattler, his 13-year-old gelding, is an ex-bucking horse.
“The McCoy Rodeo Company bucked him for about 2 years,” Snyder said. “Then he wouldn’t buck anymore. He’s out of a Quarter Horse mare, so he’s not a great big bucking horse. I’ve had him a year and a half, and there’s not really any buck to him now. I don’t give him the opportunity. But he’s pretty boogery on the ground and he’s not kid-gentle by any means.”
Both ropers’ horses made roping easy for them—maybe a bit too easy for Bradley.
“I was a 5 heeler until I got this horse two years ago,” Bradley laughed. “Now, after the Heartland, I’m an 8. Hatley just always gives me a shot.”
Neither Bradley nor Snyder are sure who they’ll be roping with in Las Vegas, But Bradley says its a sure bet he’ll enter the #15, #13 and #12.