Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Brett Heggie
story by by Naomi Loomis,
WSRRA Association Representative
A working cowboy’s everyday duties included riding, roping, branding, horse breaking, and the like, and these activities often served also as his pastime. The Western States Ranch Rodeo Association is for cowboys and cowgirls that want to demonstrate their skills and show off their horses at sanctioned ranch rodeos with a goal of competing at the WSRRA National Finals in Winnemucca, Nevada. It’s a lot of fun to see all these good hands show off their skills not only at the local events but at the finals. One of these hands great hands is Brett Heggie.
This 29 year old cowboy grew up on a ranch in Parkman, Wyoming. Since he was old enough to ride he loved to compete in any event that has to do with a rope. “Where I grew up, we were surrounded by big ranches with a lot of handy cowboys. My dad and I would help them and that made me want to become a cowboy, Brett states.” Growing up Brett would compete at ranch rodeos, calf roping and team roping. A year ago he married Dana, they currently have no kids but have many dogs and horses. He manages a large cow-calf operation in Hardin, Montana.
Being a cowboy was what Brett always wanted to be. “Growing up, I always wanted to be a good cowboy like my Dad and Grandpa. I liked to watch good cowboys rope in and out of the arena. As I got older, I started to work towards gaining the same skill set that they have. I was very fortunate growing up that I was able to enter any rodeo I wanted to enter and practice as much as I wanted, with endless amounts of cattle to rope in and out of the arena. This made it easier to be competitive at a young age, Brett says.
Brett was first interested in ranch rodeos when he was in college at Dillon, Montana. “I started going to a few branding competitions and then started to enter a few ranch rodeos in the summer. I eventually went to enough to qualify for the first WSRRA National Finals in Winnemucca.” Ranch rodeos are an event that cowboys and cowgirls can demonstrate their horsemanship, roping, cattle handling, and teamwork, similar to the everyday work on the ranch. Brett says, “I was attracted to ranch rodeo because of the competition, and fast pace that required a cowboy to be mounted on a good horse and skilled while working day to day on a ranch. It allows you to show off the skills that you use every day at home.”
Being a cowboy during the day helps in the ranch rodeo arena. Their day to day operations mean that they get to rope a lot of cattle outside giving them good practice for when they are in a ranch rodeo. Brett explains how you need skills in the arena and how they help with life. “I am very fortunate to have a job where I get those opportunities and always have a rope in my hand. In order to participate in ranch rodeo, you need to have a good balance between a rodeo cowboy and a working cowboy. I believe that people who have roped in the arena are a lot sharper with their rope, but roping on the ranch teaches you how to setup shots and how to ride your horse to get a job done in any scenario. You need to be able to go fast but be smooth and in control while doing so. This is where the rodeo cowboy and the ranch cowboy styles mix to create a perfect combination in my eyes. This helps in other aspects of life regarding the importance of being a well-rounded person. Competing also allows you the chance to meet new people, stick your hand out there and shake a strangers hand, and learn something you didn’t know. Being coachable and accepting to new ideas and techniques will help you go far in life no matter what you are trying to do,” he says.
WSRRA currently has sanctioned ranch rodeos in 13 states and Canada. Brett entered a sanctioned WSRRA Montana ranch rodeo in 2009 and qualified for the national finals. “I enjoy that the association allows me to meet and see other cowboys from all different parts of the country. I have made many friends through this association,” Brett states.
“I am most proud of winning the ranch rodeos I have won to qualify for Winnemucca. Each one of these rodeos have been against tough competitors, some of which I get to work with a lot of the time, Brett explains.
Cowboys are strong, independent, and still in possession of the vestiges of chivalry and respect for the land. The life of a cowboy is all about only taking what you needed from the land and giving it back so much more. Cowboys predominately do all that is possible to keep their ranches going and their cattle feed. But regardless some cowboys are like superheroes to me; the cowboys that are tough and humble. They are a symbol of honorable behavior, respect for all creatures big and small and patriots for their country and their way of life. Brett is just one of those guys. While competing at the 2017 WSRRA national finals Brett was on the Dragging Y ranch rodeo team, his team members were Chad Goings, Wade Tibbitts, and Jason Ward. “We had a great long round, qualifying for the short round, and led the short round clear to the last event where I had some tough luck and nearly cut off 4 of my fingers after I had roped a steer in our last event, causing us to go from first to third in the average and a trip to the Winnemucca ER. This was just one of those things that happens, but I was happy to still get third and thankful to have great teammates that understood that this was part of ranch rodeo, and crazy things can happen,” Brett explains.
At the 2016 WSRRA national finals, Brett competed on a horse named Pocampo. “He is a solid ranch horse that I could do anything on. He was the old “Trusty rusty” and I have enjoyed many years of ranch rodeo on him,” Brett says.
Along with his humble attitude, Brett takes his wife, his horse- Johnny Ringo, his hairy dogs, Howdy and Ernie and plenty of new King ropes, and a winning attitude when he rolls down the WSRRA rodeo trail.
Brett goes on to say that his 2017 goal include going to the WSRRA national finals in Winnemucca, win the finals and keep all his fingers. Brett and his team have already qualified for the finals by winning Powder River Days in Sheridan, Wyoming. “I have made the short round almost every year, but haven’t quite gotten the big win yet. My hand is healed up 100 percent and I am looking forward to the trip down to Winnemucca,” Brett states. Brett and his team are very competitive and try to win at rodeo and ranch rodeo. “Our goal is to win first and have fun,” he says. The team that Brett qualified with this year is John Ward, Wade Tibbitts and Luke Wiggins. “We always try to make a strategy before every event. We know exactly what we are going to do before we ride into the arena, which gives us an edge over the competition,” he says.
Brett and his team have all summer to practice for the 2017 WSRRA National Finals coming up, November 1 – 5, 2017 in Winnemucca, Nevada.
On behalf of the WSRRA, good luck at the 2017 WSRRA national finals.