Traveling Partners – Part Two

Nov 4, 2022

Traveling Partners – Part Two

The buddy system – the tie-down ropers, steer wrestlers and tie-down ropers. 

There are a lot of factors to consider when contestants are choosing who they want to travel with. And while having the same goals and work ethic are similar across events, the factors change within events. 

In the team roping, only two teams can buddy together equaling four contestants. Steer wrestlers may travel in bigger packs, but they tend to buddy according to the horse they are riding. And, the tie-down ropers could have four in a group, but that equals at least four horses and that creates another challenge. 

In 2008, Shane Hanchey was a rookie on the rodeo trail. He has had a multitude of traveling partners through the years. When he started, he was the young gun on the trail. Now he’s using his years of experience to help some of those young guns. 

Shane Hanchey tipping his hat to the crowd inside the Thomas & Mack Center during the Wrangler NFR. | Photo By: Tom Donoghue

Shane started traveling with Kincaid Henry this summer after Kincaid won the College National Finals Rodeo in June. He’s also traveling with Beau Cooper from Canada. 

“It’s kind of strange to think that I’m the old guy in the bunch now,” Hanchey said. “But I had a lot of people help me when I first got started so it makes sense that as we gain experience we share it with those to keep the sport going.” 

Traveling with Kincaid was an easy choice and a gratifying one as Shane got to see him accomplish the goal of qualifying for his first Wrangler NFR. Kincaid’s father is originally from Lake Charles and the Hancheys and Henrys have known each other for a very long time. 

“We were behind the box last year at Houston,” Kincaid said. “Shane asked me ‘Who are you going to go with this year?’” Kincaid, who was a college student at Panola and working his way towards a tie-down roping career told Shane he wasn’t sure what he was going to do. 

“I know a guy that I think you should go with,” Shane said. Kincaid wondered who that was and Shane replied, “You’re looking at him.” 

Before Kincade Henry got in the truck for the summer run of rodeos, he won the tie-down roping championship at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming for Panola College. | CNFR Photo By: Jackie Jensen

Who wouldn’t want to travel with a world champion that has been to the NFR 12 times? That was a question that Kincaid answered in a hurry.

“It’s been amazing,” said Kincaid who snagged the 15th spot to qualify for his first NFR. “I’ve learned a lot from Shane, but mostly it’s been the way he handles himself. Watching his mentality throughout the season was the best thing for me. He’s got some things figured out and I just tried to absorb that.” 

Beau is from Canada, and Shane loves to compete up there. He’s won the Canadian championship in the tie-down roping four times. Beau has been to Texas staying at Shane’s house and then traveling with him. Shane didn’t qualify for this year’s Canadian Finals Rodeo, but Beau did and he won the first round. 

The things that tie-down horses do have always amazed me and because of the differences in them, I know that it’s not easy to find one that fits each person’s needs. When these guys are going, they each have their own horse and sometimes a back up horse. It’s a trailer full. 

For steer wrestlers, buddy groups are largely formed around the horses they have in the trailer. Clayton Hass is the owner of Be Dun By Three “Benz” who is the reserve champion Nutrena Horse of the Year presented by the American Quarter Horse Association. 

Clayton did not make this year’s WNFR – he was 32nd – but he will make more appearances in the Thomas & Mack Center than any of his traveling partners. Clayton will be hazing for Dakota Eldridge, Will Lummus and Ty Erickson. And they have more in common than just wanting to ride Benz. 

Dakota Eldridge competeing in Round 5 of the 2021 Wrangle NFR. | Photo By: Tom Donoghue

“We all get along pretty good and have a lot of common interests,” Clayton said. “We all like to hunt and play golf. There’s not many rodeos that we go to where someone isn’t winning. We all have a positive attitude and we build on that and keep doing what we do.” 

Having three members of the group competing at this year’s NFR is a testament to Clayton’s hazing ability and the horses in the trailer. Collectively these guys have 21 qualifications. Benz has had success at the finals too and they are all excited to be there together and let Benz do what he does best, especially in the Thomas & Mack Center. And, it does mean that Clayton will make 60 runs on the off side hoping that one of his buddies leaves with a gold buckle. 

Dakota won the average championship in 2017 where Clayton was hazing. Left to right, Dakota’s wife Quincy, Dakota and Clayton. | Photo From: Susan Kanode

Stetson Jorgensen, the world standings leader, is the lone representative of his buddy group competing at the NFR. He will ride Patrionic Dash “Mable” that he has had so much success on and that carried Jacob Edler to a world title in 2020.  

“I have a great group of guys,” he said. Landris White who won the Resistol Rookie of the Year is one of those. Jace Melvin and Ty Allred are also in there. “When you have a better buddy group, they want you to win as bad as they want to win. That’s as important as anything.” 

To make up a four-man buddy group in team roping limits guys to two headers and two heelers. That’s four horses and here we go again with trailers that are full. It’s not unusual for team ropers to have at least two horses, maybe a young horse they are seasoning and a jackpot horse in their trailer for different set ups. When guys travel together, it limits how many horses they can travel. 

There are also more team ropers that take their families along. Wesley Thorp travels with his wife Susanna and their two boys in a bus with a bumper pull trailer. They follow each other on highways and plan their schedules together, but more often than not will be in their own rigs. Travis Graves is in a living quarters trailer. 

“Bringing the family along makes a difference,” said Travis Graves. “It makes it a lot easier for me to leave when they can come with me. And, when we get there, the kids never lack for anyone to play with. It costs more, but it’s worth it.” 

My name is Susan Kanode and I am a rodeo fan.