Riding with purpose
July 11, 2014
They feel her presence daily, especially in the rodeo arena.
Cord and Caleb Hendrix, though, know their late sister, Rachel, lifted them through Nevada High School State Finals Rodeo last month and into Sunday's National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo. The event runs through July 19.
The brothers said they competed in their sister's memory at state, which saw the duo qualify in team roping and cutting. Cord Hendrix also earned a bid to nationals in bull riding.
Rachel Hendrix died in January in a carbon monoxide accident.
"At state, we went in there eighth (in team roping) and we both think she was looking down on us and helping us," Caleb Hendrix. "We came out on top because we were roping for Rachel. It's just nice to have all the good memories of doing it (rodeo) with her."
"She's there for us," Cord Hendrix added. "She's just there helping us and making sure we have everything down."
Although the two are preserving their sister's legacy, they know stiff competition lays ahead.
Since qualifying, the brothers have been practicing twice per day, every day in preparation for the biggest rodeo of the year. Cord Hendrix, a sophomore at Churchill County High School, must use his back-up horse for team roping due to an injury suffered to his regular horse.
"I am feeling pretty focused," he said. "I have used my backup horse, but that's OK."
Caleb Hendrix, a freshman at CCHS, said his expectations are to qualify for next weekend's short go in both events. His goal is to place in the top 10 overall.
"We rope everyday and I ride my cutting horse everyday," he said. "This last week we have been roping every day."
Mental focus, meanwhile, can be the difference between the short go and a top-10 finish, or an early exit from nationals.
"I just try to stay calm," Caleb Hendrix said. "I try to think that I can compete with most of these guys out there."
Cutting, though, is an event that counters the traditional reaction and mindset of rodeo. Patience and technical ability are pressed into the forefront, as opposed to speed in most other events.
Caleb Hendrix said his focus has been on the technical side, using his horses feet and making sure his horse is calm.
"At practice, sometimes she's (his horse) an idiot," he said. "As soon as she's at an event, she can tell the environment is different and can buckle down and do the job."
Cord Hendrix, meanwhile, said patience is the key, but hard to achieve.
"You just practice a lot and make sure we take our time and do everything correct," he added.
In team roping, the duo has long been partners, which has enhanced their relationship. Cord Hendrix, the heeler, said the long-lasting partnership has created a like-minded thought process, which makes roping the steer more manageable.
"After you've roped so much of your life … you mentally bond and figure out everything," he added. "The hardest part for me is riding in the right position. Every steer is different."
Joining the Hendrix's, however, are Fallon residents Sydney Howard and Jessica Gomes, along with Reno resident Mackay Spyrow, who competes for the Fallon rodeo club.
Howard qualified for nationals in goat tying and breakaway roping, while Gomes earned a berth in cutting and Spyrow in team roping.
Howard won the breakaway title at state and finished third in goat tying. She will compete at nationals on Sunday and July 19 in goat tying and on Monday and Friday in breakaway roping. Gomes hits the arena on Monday and Friday, while Spyrow competes on Wednesday.
"I'm just hoping for three solid runs (in each event)," Howard said. "I feel confident and I've been practicing good. It's my third qualification (in her career) and I won't be as nervous as some of the others."
Caleb Hendrix competes on Monday and Friday in team roping and cutting, while Cord Hendrix takes the stage on Sunday and July 19 in cutting and Tuesday and Thursday in bull riding.
Fallon cowboy Billy Quillan placed 21st in the all-around with 29.5 points at the Silver State International Rodeo earlier this month.
He won the first go in bull riding with a score of 74. As a team, Nevada finished fourth with 164.5 points.