Keeping It in the Family

The Payne family – and a family of related rope horses – keep a tradition going.

It’s in the genes of Brady Payne of Gilbert, Arizona, to be a great roper. His grandfather, Bob, and father, Denton, have both thrown a few ropes in their days. Denton has taken seven trips to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in team roping, and Brady is planning to repeat the family legacy. Well on his way, 14-year-old Brady has won 14 saddles already in his career. He also won a very special colt at the Bob Payne Memorial Team Roping in Casagrande, Arizona, in February.

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Bob Payne passed away from a heart attack seven years ago at the age of 58. Brady was 7 at the time and just starting to rope. Denton and his best friend since childhood, Rube Woolsey, decided to put on a roping to honor Bob, as he had given so much of himself. “Any kid that needed anything, he bent over backward for,” Denton says. The roping has seen two successful years, with a turnout of about 800 teams each year. Sponsors give rifles to the winners, and in 2009, a colt was donated by one of Bob’s friends, Clair Jones of Jones Driftwood Horses, to the high-point junior roper.

Roll It!

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Clair’s breeding program started with Colonel Charge, a horse that Bob picked from his dad’s herd for Clair. Just three steps back on Colonel Charge’s family tree is AQHA Hall of Fame stallion Driftwood. Driftwood was known for his speed in the old 220-yard match races. He then turned his athletic ability to the roping arena, where his inner cow sense showed. Driftwood became a successful stallion, passing on his traits to his offspring. "All the horses I ride came from Jones Driftwood. We have about six or seven of them,” Denton says. The horse Clair donated to the Bob Payne Memorial Roping was Chipperwood Mark, a 2-year-old dun stallion by JD Wily Chipperwood out of Jessie Jazz Mark. Chipperwood Mark’s paternal great-grandfather is Colonel Charge. But this dun wasn’t the only descendant of Colonel Charge to be on the rodeo grounds. Brady’s rope horse, Colonel Hunky Star or “Fonzie,” is a full sibling to Chipperwood Mark’s paternal grandmother, Chalamar Drifter, and that’s who gave Brady his winning runs at his grandfather’s memorial roping.

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“Those little kids were bearing down. He (Brady) had to be under 6 seconds on his last steer to place, and he was 5.78. I think that was the fastest steer of the whole roping,” Clair recalls. With a great last run, Brady became high-point and won Chipperwood Mark. One more unique twist to the story was the bit that Brady was using had belonged to Bob, who had won it at a show and loaned it to the eight-time world champion heeler Clay O’Brien Cooper to use throughout his career. After Bob passed away, Clay returned the bit to the Payne family. It was the bit Brady used at the roping. Brady’s plans include team roping in high school rodeos, rodeoing in college and going pro, just like his dad.