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Meet the Member Rod Hartness
story by Lindsay King
Rod Hartness hails from the steer roping capital of the world – Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It’s the kind of place where if you want to be a cowboy, you have to rope. Just like anybody else in the Osage, Rod started roping calves when he was really young. “I roped calves all through high school, but in about 1982 I joined a steer roping club and started tripping, I just clicked with it really well and went to roping steers full time,” said the 15-time steer roping national final qualifier.
His Oklahoma roots run deep as Rod is a second generation pipeliner of sorts. His dad R.B. (“Buddy”) taught him the trade and now Rod is putting his own twist on the business. “I buy and sell pipe all over the country, for ranchers and for the pipelines. We also go in and clean up oil leases, kind of restoration if you will. I try to work close to home, so I can spend time with my family. I was pretty lucky my dad taught me about the pipeline business. I hope to pass it (G and H Pipe, LLC) down to my son one day.” Three-year-old Rope (also known as “Buddy”) has two older sisters in their 20s (Natalie and Kaleigh). Rod is looking forward to becoming a grandad in the near future. “I can’t say enough about how blessed I am by the good Lord with my family, good horses and some rodeo luck. Ashlee (his wife of five years) will put in a 12-hour day and still help me rope at night if I need it. She’s always there for me.”
Rod has seen a lot of life, both from the back of a horse and in the cab of a pickup truck. Some of his big wins over the years include: Cheyenne Frontier Days; Ellensburg, Washington; and Pineville, Oregon; just to name a few. “I have been awful lucky to win just about everything on my list except Pendleton and Deadwood. I have made the circuit and national finals in four different decades.” Rod has won the circuit finals average four times, in addition to winning the Ben Johnson Memorial Steer Roping and the Windy Ryon Memorial Roping (twice).
While Rod was roping at PRCA rodeos in Cheyenne and Burwell, Nebraska, he also entered NSRA steer roping events. “It is an awesome group of people up there. The NSRA is a very professional association. I am really impressed with how they handle their rodeos, slack, steers, everything.” As Rod slowly reduces the number of PRCA rodeos he competes in every year, the list of NSRA events he competes at increases. “I love going, but if I can’t take my family with me, then I don’t really have any interest in going.”
Back in the 80s when Rod was first learning to rope steers, very few associations outside of the PRCA offered the event. The same holds fairly true today, except that the NSRA and ACRA both have steer roping. There are individual clubs to compete in of course. “The NSRA is the league you compete in before going into the pros. It is a good place for young guys to get started where it doesn’t cost a lot to enter. That is not to take anything away from the ropers though, because there is tough competition up there.”
Perpetuating the event and the sport of rodeo is at the top of Rod’s mind. He is blessed with an indoor arena, which he uses to help coach calf ropers (both breakaway and tie down). “I am blessed to have the facilities to help people and that is what I enjoy doing.” It’s just a quick five-hour jaunt up to the border of Nebraska, making most rodeos only weekend trips for Rod. Though you don’t have to travel nearly as much for steer roping as the other events in the PRCA, Rod still wishes the NSRA had the event 20 years ago.