Long-standing Clovis tradition, calf roping, ‘great family fun’

Dave Eastlake of Amarillo finishes his tie during the first round of the inaugural Joe’s Boot Shop Calf Roping competition Saturday at the Mounted Patrol Arena at the Curry County Fairgrounds. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Ryn Gargulinski: CNJ staff writer

Shorty Sanders of Capitan said it’s more American than baseball. Organizer Scot Stinnett said it’s more difficult that golf. Wendy Lacina, who came from Amarillo with her two young sons to support her husband, described it as great family fun.

All were in Clovis on Saturday for the second day of the Joe’s Boot Shop Calf Roping at the Curry County Mounted Patrol. More than 150 amateur ropers of all ages had roped calves by Saturday afternoon.

The crowd was also a mix of young and old.

Katelyn Brownd, 3, sat relaxed on a Shetland pony in the crowd. Nearby were 2-year-old Tyce and 5-year-old True Lacina.

“You may be looking at future ropers,” said Wendy Lacina and Luanne Brownd, motioning toward their children. Lacina and Brownd said their husbands rope on weekends just for fun.

For others, it’s a way of life.

“We’re cowboys and it’s what cowboys do,” said Smiley Wooten, Roswell resident and friend of Shorty Sanders. Wooten and Sanders were at the competition with their sons — Kade Wooten, 16, and 19-year-old Trevor Sanders — who have been roping together for years.

“The boys,” as Shorty called them, practice up to three hours a day and normally partner for steer roping but prove equally adept with calves. Kade Wooton had pocketed $100 over the first two days and Trevor Wooton, last year’s 4-H state champion, had yet to compete in the day’s events.

For the teens, it was largely about the money.

“Calf roping is an expensive hobby,” Trevor Sanders said, listing the cost of the horse, the truck, the trailer, the cattle, the gear, the entry fees like a CPA doing an audit.

“It’s really more than a hobby for me,” he added, brushing then gearing up his horse. “It’s what I do.”

Trevor Sanders said all he thinks about when he’s on his horse is “how I’m going to get that calf. It’s a partnership with me and my horse.”

Stinnett, advertising director for Joe’s Boot Shop, expanded on his comment that roping was harder than golf. “In golf you got it made if you can solve one brain. In roping you have three brains — your own, the horse’s and the calf’s.”

Stinnett was pleased with the turnout Friday and Saturday, and expected even more of a crowd for today’s professional competition, which includes reigning world champion calf roper Monty Lewis and Clint Cooper who ranked 10th in the world.

“Clovis once had a reputation for events like these,” Stinnett said, noting how the bandstand used to overflow in the 1950s. “This is one of our efforts to help Clovis get that reputation back.”