written by peggy purser freeman | photos provided by the tinsley family and hometown living
Caden Tinsley grew up with a rope in his hand. Working with his parents, Jason and Elisabeth Tinsley, and inspired by his big brother, Carson, Caden is one of Midland’s best athletes. Caden began team roping when he turned thirteen and won the 2018 Junior National Finals Rodeo (NFR) #10 World Title in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of fifteen.
2018 World Champions | Caden Tinsley & Tate Thompson
Team roping, also known as heading and heeling, features a steer and two mounted riders. The first roper is the header, the person who ropes the front of the steer, usually around the horns, but it is also legal for the rope to go around the neck, or go around one horn and the nose. The second is the heeler, who ropes the steer by its hind feet, with a five-second penalty assessed to the end time if only one leg is caught.
In Vegas, Caden was header and his teammate, twelve-year-old Tate Thompson from Canyon, Texas was heeler. Caden came to the finals as the season leader. He shared highlights about the Junior NFR World Title, “The first steer I ‘broke out’ on. That’s not good. Then I used my head and really thought about it. I get that from my dad. After that, we made solid runs.”
“We are so proud of Caden. He’s such a hard-working, humble young man.”
Using his head paid off for Caden as the 2018 Junior NFR #10 World Title paid $2,680 a man for their time of 49.38 on five head. They banked a total of $3,685 each for their week’s efforts, including a second-place finish in Round 4 and a third-place finish in Round 5. Not bad for a sixteen-year-old and a twelve-year-old.
“We are so proud of Caden,” Jason Tinsley said. “He’s such a hard-working, humble young man.” The Tinsley family had to divide and conquer the week of the world finals in Vegas. Jason explained, “It was a bittersweet moment for me because my oldest son, Carson, was in brain surgery at that time,” Jason said. “You want to cry and you want to be happy at the same time.”
Before the surgery to help correct some scar tissue inside Carson’s brain, Carson’s anesthesiologist let him watch his brother win the Junior NFR. After Vegas, Caden and his dad joined mom, Elisabeth, and Carson in the Fort Worth hospital. Carson’s prognosis looks good.
“My favorite thing about team roping is the people we have met. Good old-fashioned family values and love for God and country. -Elisabeth Tinsley
“My brother Carson inspires me on a daily basis and he’s my biggest supporter.” Caden continued, “He has had numerous brain surgeries for epilepsy and he always stays positive and keeps fighting to get better. He has taught me to never give up and keep fighting and working hard. He is truly my hero and a warrior.”
Caden is primary a header but he excels in heeling as well. He doesn’t brag, he just thinks about it and does it. When Caden partnered with Cutter Thomison at heeling, he won the West of the Pecos Rodeo Classic Team Roping in Pecos, Texas. Pecos claims prestige as the site of the world’s first rodeo. That claim goes back to 1883 when two cowboys met for a contest to see who had the fastest rope. Word spread and other cowboys picked up the challenge to prove their abilities. The rodeo was born and today it is a worldwide, multi-million-dollar sport. With his family’s support, Caden continues to rope in awards every month. The title he’s most proud of is the Spicer Gripp Memorial Roping Pro-Am in Hereford, Texas.
Caden has had the honor of being heeler for Clay Smith, the current Wrangler NFR World Champion. Caden was featured on Total Team Roping for Clay O’Brien Cooper. Cooper is a twenty-nine times Wrangler NFR Qualifier and a seven times Wrangler NFR World Champion Heeler.
“Total Team Roping teaches people how to rope and they were training me. That was televised on RFD-TV Season 2017, Episode 139,” Caden added with a smile. “It’s a memory I’ll cherish forever and an honor for the opportunity to train and rope with Bret Beach and Clay O’Brien Cooper.”
Buckles and saddles fill the Tinsley home. This summer Caden showed his hometown more of that talent as he won first, second, and fourth places in roping at the Midland County Fair. Rodeo life isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap. The family spends a great deal of time in the sport.
Caden’s dad, Jason, explained, “I grew up poor and this is an expensive sport. To be able to give these boys a better life and get these boys where they need to be is great. What I tell Caden is that roping is a hobby. You’ve got to be financially stable to do that hobby. You make a living first and rope second.”
When Caden isn’t roping he likes to hunt dove, quail, and deer, and he loves to fish. As we texted (he’s a teenager, you know), he shared his future plans. “When I turn eighteen, I’m going to get my Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) permit and compete in the PRCA circuit and try to qualify for the finals in Las Vegas. Plus, I’d like to win a Wrangler NFR World Title. After rodeo, I will work with my dad and someday run IOC (Industrial Oilfield Construction).”
Young cowboys always have heroes. Caden talked about his. “My rodeo heroes are Bret Beach and JoJo LeMond. They have mentored me and both help me a lot. I can call them anytime. My life heroes are my Dad and my brother, Carson. My dad works very hard to make all this possible for me and he has supported me every step of the way. He has taken me all around the country to compete in team roping. He’s always there for me with anything I need. He has taught me to never forget where you come from, stay humble, and most of all respect and treat people the way you want to be treated.”
Caden and JoJo Lemond
Team Roping and other activities that encourage family involvement grow community. Caden’s mom commented on the sport and her favorite athlete. “My favorite thing about team roping is the people we have met. Good old-fashioned family values and love for God and country. I learn a new cowboy saying every time I go to an event. But I’m most proud of the fine young man Caden is. On a Friday night, you won’t find him at a party. When’s he’s not on the road roping, he’s in the arena practicing or out roping goats. God has blessed Caden with a gift and I can’t wait to see all the places it will take him.”
Caden Tinsley rides into life with the skills to become a hero to all those who meet him. That is a winner in any arena. †
TEAM ROPER'S PRAYER
My entry fee has been paid now hoping
the purse will be worthwhile
Let this round be good enough,
Lord, to make this roper smile.
I sit astride, waiting in this box,
while the critter snorts in the chute.
Our goals are entirely different,
mine to rope, his to stay loose.
I know that barrier is stretched tighter
than the strings on a new banjo.
Help me not to cross the line before
that timer says “go.”
I thank you for the opportunity to
compete in this earthly event.
And please help me to realize my
successes are heavenly sent.
- Author Unkown