Flanking, tying and jumping rope: How tie-down roper Kincade Henry is training to reach his first NFR
BY BRETT NIERENGARTEN
For 19-year-old Kincade Henry, tie-down roping is about one thing - speed.
This belief is fundamental in all of Henry’s training as he currently sits No. 11 in the world with $27,259. If Henry wants to make his first Wrangler NFR and have a successful career, he has to succeed against a calf, his fellow competitors and a clock.
“I believe speed is the most important physical attribute to a tie-down roper. I think back in the day it was strength, but as cattle and set ups have changed, it’s now speed,” he said. “We are racing the clock and no matter where we are, the fastest time is going to win.”
For Henry, this belief allows him to keep his workouts simple. He only goes to the gym about once a week to lift, instead opting for stretching, sprinting and basic leg workouts at home. In the heart of the rodeo season, he does just two things to stay in shape daily - flanking and tying and jumping rope. He will, however, be getting a personal trainer in the fall.
“My biggest workout is flanking and tying. Caleb Smidt told me a long time ago that this is the best workout you can do,” he said. “From now, until we leave for the summer, this is all I will be doing along with jump roping. Jumping rope is awesome for speed and for foot movement.”
In addition to his affinity for speed training, Kincade Henry allowed The Cowboy Channel a deeper look at how he diets and stays ready to rodeo.
TCC: What is a typical breakfast for you?
KH: For me, a typical breakfast would be a breakfast bar or a bowl of cereal. It depends if I am in a hurry or not.
TCC: What is a typical lunch for you?
KH: If I am home, I will go out and eat at the sale barn or a small cafe for lunch. My go to meal is definitely a hamburger steak. Whenever we are on the road, we usually try and find a little hole in the wall cafe if we have time.
TCC: What is a typical dinner for you?
KH: Whenever I am home, dinner is usually a home cooked meal or leftovers from one. My mom will cook in the evenings, whenever my dad and I are out in the arena roping. She’ll cook anything from rice and gravy to homemade pizza. Typically we rope really late so we always eat a late dinner.
TCC: Do you snack, what’s your favorite snack?
KH: I am not a big snack kind of guy. At gas stations, I’ll typically grab a snickers bar or something along those lines. I also love boudin, so when I am home or in Louisiana I will always get some boudin to snack on. My favorite type of food is definitely cajun.
TCC: What is your practice schedule like?
KH: On a normal day, I will start practice around 4 in the afternoon. I will ride my two good horses and tune them up. I might run one for me, but for the most part it is all for them. I have one practice horse right now, so I will run 5-6 calves on her then be done roping. Since I don’t have a barn full of horses I can rope on, I am huge on flanking and tying from the post. I flank and tie after every practice for an hour or two.
TCC: What are you trying to work on specifically when you are practicing?
KH: Everyday I pick one thing to work on. This sometimes changes daily and sometimes lasts a month. One day, it might be to stay square in the saddle. The next, it might be to string the front leg tight and fast.
This winter, I have been working on my flanking the most because when I moved up from junior ropings to the summer rodeos I had to change my flanking to fit the bigger and stronger calves. I’ve always been big and strong, so I have always ran by and flanked the smaller calves. I learned quickly last summer that it doesn’t work like that in the big leagues.
TCC: What is your workout routine like?
KH: Late into last fall and early winter I was in the gym almost everyday trying to get my upper body stronger. Within about two months, I started having back problems from bad workouts, so I laid off the heavy weights for a while. Lately, I have been focused all on my legs. These past 2 months I have been working on my feet movement and getting faster. I have been doing lots of jump rope and running sprints.
TCC: Is there a guy on the road notorious for his exercise routine?
KH: Yes, Tuf Cooper; He is at top physical shape for a tie-down roper.
TCC: Is it hard to eat healthy while on the rodeo?
KH: It is very hard to stay healthy on the road. We are always in a hurry to get to the next rodeo and usually don’t have time to sit down and have a meal. Last summer was the first time I had to eat out at restaurants and/or gas stations for every meal. I felt like 90% of the time we ate Subway or Arby’s, and it was always in a truck stop. I am going to be more prepared this summer, I will definitely have some small meals with me in the trailer!
TCC: Is there a food you are trying to eat more of?
KH: In the fall, when I was in the gym almost everyday, I tried to eat lots of protein. But as of these past couple months, I haven’t changed a whole lot in my diet.
TCC: Anything unhealthy you’ve tried to cut out recently?
KH: I have cut out soft drinks and sweets from my diet. I have never had a sweet tooth so cutting those out of my diet was not too hard. Soft drinks have always been a weakness of mine, so it has been a little more challenging cutting back. Every now and then I still have a coke, but it is not too often.
TCC: Did you play any other sports growing up? Did any help with your tie-down roping?
KH: Growing up I was huge in baseball. I was blessed to be on an awesome team and we had lots of success. I played shortstop and was the closing pitcher. I believe a lot of my hand-eye coordination came from baseball. Still to this day if I flank a calf standing straight up my Dad tells me, “ It’s just like fielding a ball, your butt has to be down and underneath you.” I think I have the best of both worlds. I had to learn how to work as a team in order to be successful in baseball. In rodeo, nobody is going to work for you. Of course I have plenty of people to help me, but when I back in the box I am the only one in control.
THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR CLARITY