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Meet the Member Kevin Hensen
story by Lily Landreth
The Idaho Cowboys Association is the only association in the Northwest to offer a novice rodeo program. Started more than 25 years ago by Dave and Karen Hopkins, former owners of Bar None Rodeos, the program is designed for roughstock riders ages 14–21 who are in between junior bulls or steers but want more experience before getting on tougher roughstock. Contestants can enter any ICA rodeo that sanctions the novice program—primarily their rodeos in Idaho and Oregon—and once they reach 40 points, they move on to open bulls or broncs. The novice program extends all the way to the ICA Finals, taking place in October. Contestants who cover their stock at six or more Prime ICA rodeos during the season are eligible to compete at the ICA Finals for a year-end saddle. The 2019 champions were Hauston Roth in novice bareback, Cole Biggers in novice saddle bronc, and Bryan Green in novice bulls.
“A lot of kids have gone through this program,” says Kevin Hensen of Caldwell, Idaho, who is starting his eighth year as the novice program director. “One of them was Brady Portenier, and last year he ended up in the top 20 in the PRCA. A lot of rodeo companies are behind the novice program because it’s a stepping stone. Entry fees are less, so contestants may not make as much money, but the cost isn’t super high. The ICA Board is 110 percent behind the novice program, with Matt Askew the president, Dax Pearson the vice president, Heather Paradis, and Cody Miller,” adds Kevin, who is also an ICA stock contractor.
Kevin was raised around some cowboys who significantly shaped his life, and he is passionate about doing the same for the next generations of rodeo. This makes the novice program and the youth roughstock practices he puts on through his company Rodeo Fever especially important to him. “I like seeing the kids improve in the novice program and seeing the growth in them, and watching who they become as a cowboy and as a person. They grow a lot of friendships together, and that’s pretty cool.”
Kevin’s Rodeo Fever brings rodeo opportunities to even younger roughstock riders, ages 8–13. “I start practices in March at my house in Caldwell, and people can get in touch with me on Facebook for those. My wife, Sheila, has been with me on this all these years, and it takes a special kind of woman to put up with any kind of cowboy. I also want to thank the parents that help behind the scenes for all the rodeos—this wouldn’t be possible without all of the volunteers we have. I’ve had some really great guys help me throughout the years, including Chad Steinbeck.”
Kevin also subcontracts his junior bulls and steers to other rodeos in Idaho and Oregon, and in between Rodeo Fever and the ICA, he continues to be fully invested in the rodeo and country lifestyle. He is a farrier part time, and has worked for 30 years at D&B Supply farm store, which he loves and calls a great supporter of rodeo. Kevin also serves as an associate director on the Caldwell Night Rodeo Board and enjoys singing with his band Buckin’ Country. His goal is to continue growing the novice program in the ICA and be a positive influence to as many young rodeo athletes as possible. “It’s cool to see them when they’ve made it all the way up there to the pros and followed their dreams, but whatever they do in life after rodeo, that’s great so long as they enjoy it.”