Trevor Hale wasn’t winded in the marathon to the Triple Crown of Rodeo Round at WCRA Rodeo Carolina; he was just warmed up. The 21-year-old was 8.65 seconds Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, to win Rodeo Carolina and a total of $28,162.85.
“It doesn’t matter what event you’re at, that’s a great paycheck,” Hale said. “There’s only two or three ropings a year that you can go to and win that kind of money. To come out on top of that one, that’s good to me.”
The Perryton, Texas, roper capitalized on all but one calf while in North Carolina. He cashed in $2,662.85 from the Qualifying Rounds, $1,500 in Progressive Round 2, $1,000 for the two-head Progressive Round average, $15,000 for the Rodeo Carolina championship, $500 in ground money from the Triple Crown of Rodeo Round and $7,500 for finishing third in the Reliance Ranches VRQ Points bonus.
His total of more than $28,000 was the result of focusing on perfecting the basics.
“Every time I go somewhere I just want to score good, catch and the rest normally just seems to happen,” the 2022 Pendleton Round-Up champion said. “If you’re on the barrier and setting your runs up good, it works out in your favor more often than not.”
Hale kicked off his marathon to $15,000 Thursday, Oct. 6, in the Qualifying Rounds. With an 8.25 and a 7.93, Hale was able to win both rounds and the average, advancing him to the Progressive Round.
“The first two felt really good,” Hale said. “The Qualifying Rounds were challenging because they pay and you want to win, but at the same time, you can’t mess up because you have to catch two and tie them down to make it back. That felt really good, though.”
Friday, Oct. 7, marked the first Progressive Round, and with a 9.95-second run, Hale was out of the round money, no thanks to an unideal calf and a small mistake in how he handled his slack.
“The calf went left, and I went outside with my slack and it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to,” Hale explained. “And it took me a little longer down there than I’d have liked.”
But Hale didn’t stay out of the winner’s circle long. In Progressive Round 2, he put together a textbook run and was 8.21 seconds to win the round for $1,500 and lock in his spot in Sunday’s Triple Crown of Rodeo Round.
“I came back the next night, and I thought I had a pretty phenomenal run,” Hale said. “I drew a stronger one and my horse worked really good. He let me do my job and it worked out well.”
Sunday, Oct. 8, Hale was set to do battle against the same calf from Progressive Round 1. Except this time, Hale knew what to expect and planned accordingly.
“I came back on Sunday, and that was the same calf I tied in 9.9 already,” Hale said. “It was my least favorite calf that I’d ran in North Carolina. I knew he was going to fade left again, and I wanted to learn from the mistakes I made on him the first time. It worked in my favor.”
Hale bested the field with an 8.65-second run to be victorious yet again in North Carolina and take home the Rodeo Carolina title and $15,000.
Power of good horses
Hale was riding 18-year-old “Cornbread.” He first paired up with the gelding four years ago when he originally bought him as a head horse.
“I just started roping calves on him, and I trained him to be a calf horse,” Hale said. “He’s not exactly anything super special, but he scores really good, he does the same thing every time and he just lets me win. He’s definitely a better horse on stronger calves. When it’s a fast setup like it was in North Carolina and you’re roping good calves that you can turn around, he’s probably one of my favorites I’ve ever rode.”
And Hale knows good horses. At just 16 years old, Hale won the inaugural World’s Greatest Youth Horseman at the 2019 National Reined Cow Horse Association World’s Greatest Horseman competition.
“My mom is a horse trainer,” Hale explained. “She trained all-around horses and English horses growing up, and my dad was a rancher and taught me how to rope. So, growing up, I rodeoed and showed rope horses at the horse shows as well. When I got to be 13 or 14, I got to be around Brad Lund a lot—he did team roping horses and cow horses—and that’s where I got my foot in the door on the cow horses. I got to be around it some and then they added it to the high school rodeos and I started doing that. I was fortunate enough to show some really good horses in that, as well as the World’s Greatest Horseman.”
Having a diverse background with horses—and talented ones at that—is an advantage, Hale admits.
“Learning everything I can about a horse, before roping on them, has helped a lot,” Hale said. “I want to make sure my horses are responsive and do their job without a rope before I even start to go in that direction with them.”
Hale has been nominating for the WCRA for the last year, focusing on at least solidifying a spot in the Qualifying Rounds.
“I always nominate enough that I’m not necessarily seeded, but I’m going to be eligible to go,” Hale said. “I have never nominated and been the highest-point person because it’s pretty challenging to do. But I always try to make sure I’m entered.”
With the payout the WCRA has up for grabs, how could he not?
“They pay good,” Hale said. “Here lately, you haven’t had to spend a lot of money to nominate at all, so you have a low entry fee and then it’s normally pretty good calves when you go to one of their events, and it pays a lot of money.”
Hale’s future with the WCRA is promising, as he recognizes the opportunity they offer.
“I’m for sure going to keep nominating,” Hale said. “It’s good. At the end of the year there’s only a handful of jackpots that pay a lot of money, and to do good at really one of them is good to me.