Team roper Wesley Johnson from Lipan, Texas, has found a gem in his heel horse Red Bull. The 11-year-old sorrel gelding was previously owned by World Champion Team Roper Patrick Smith and trained by South Carolina’s Ben Gambrell, who currently calls Stephenville, Texas, home.
“I don’t know what Ben did, but this horse is like a dog,” Johnson said. “You can turn him out on 100 acres, tell him to come here with no grain and he will come to you no matter what. Ben spent a lot of time with him and you can really tell.”
Wesley Johnson started team roping at the age of 12.
“When I was little I just liked everything about the cowboy lifestyle,” he said. “My neighbor had set up a team roping arena. I decided to buy my first horse, started practicing and it took off from there. I haven’t stopped since.”
Johnson is a professional rodeo cowboy and has enjoyed making a living out of his passion for team roping. Recently married, he and his wife, Morgan, love life on the road and Red Bull is always with them.
Johnson purchased Red Bull from Smith in 2013. He had lived with the world champ in Stephenville for a couple of years and seen the horse work. He’d even ridden him a time or two.
“I knew when he came up for sale that I wanted him,” Johnsons explained. “I knew how he worked, I knew how he was trained and I jumped on it as quickly as I could.”
Johnson also knew Smith had been successful on the horse.
“I think he won on him pretty much everywhere he took him,” Johnson said. “He rode him for a whole winter when his No. 1 horse was hurt.”
Smith won several ProRodeos on Red Bull and finished second at the prestigious Fort Worth rodeo in 2012. In just two years Johnson has had his share of success on the horse, with his biggest win being the 2014 Vernon ProRodeo, where he pocketed $11,661.
WORLD SERIES SHOWING
When Johnson heard the World Series was going to offer a #15 Finale he jumped on the opportunity—feeling confident and knowing a win could help him down the road.
“I wanted to go because of the money, it pays so good,” Johnson said. “That roping can be life changing if you win it.”
Red Bull is a versatile athlete and makes the transition from rodeos to jackpots an easy one for Johnson.
“The start is pretty fast at a World Series, similar to a rodeo, you can pretty much go whenever your header nods. But as far as some of the other jackpot set ups, your horse needs to be a little freer. I’ll practice that set up a little bit ahead of time, but he makes the transition easy.”
After winning $5,500 at the 2014 WSTR Finale IV and picking up another $1,000 at Hamilton, Texas, this January, Johnson is already planning to ride Red Bull again at Finale X.
BEHIND THE HORSE POWER
“In my opinion, this horse fits my style a little bit better than he fit Patrick’s. Red Bull is a little ‘chargier’ than I’d say Patrick likes them.” Johnson said. “He has been good for me.
“The thing with Red Bull is he tries every time,” Johnson continued. “What sets him apart from other horses is his consistency and reliability. I know what he’s going to do every time and that helps a lot.”
Both Johnson and Smith agree he is a good horse with a one-of-a-kind personality.
“He was one of the neatest horses I’ve ever owned,” Smith said. “If you whistled in the pasture he’d come running to you. He’s just a really good horse.”
For Gambrell, Red Bull is the one that got away.
“When I came to Texas from South Carolina, he was one of the three original horses I had. His name was Beau when I had him. I sold him to Patrick along with another one of my originals,” Gambrell explained. “My grandpa taught me as a little kid how to train a horse. He would purchase them out of the sale barn and have us spend a lot of time on them. This horse was no different. My grandpa bought him and I trained him from scratch. He’s very special to me, partially because he helped me move from a low numbered roper all the way to a #9. We have a very special bond. I have been at a rodeo before and called his name and he came running from a mile away. There are many times I wish I hadn’t sold him, but I needed the money. I am glad he is in the hands of Wesley. He’s a good friend and a great roper, and I’m just happy to see Red Bull’s talents are being put to good use.”
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