Gavin Beattie has some of the best horses in his hands
By JOE KUSEK
July 6, 2023
Fireworks in the sky weren’t the only things making people happy during the Fourth of July holiday.
Mountain Health Co-Op Tour rodeos in Harlowton, Ennis and Choteau handed out 50 checks of $700 or more to some very happy cowboys and cowgirls.
The Northern Rodeo Association and Northern Women’s Rodeo Association version of “Cowboy Christmas,” had 14 competitors earn difference-making checks of more than $1,000.
One of those was roper Gavin Beattie of Helena.
The 20-year-old cowboy and partner Chad Turner of East Helena each pocketed $1,216 for their team roping win at Ennis.
The pair had entered the pivotal run of rodeos with leads of more than $1,000 in the team roping heading and heeling standings. The leads were the largest for any single event.
Ennis was their second team roping win. They opened their season with a victory at Whoop-Up Trail Days in Conrad. The pair also placed second at Big Timber and third at Polson.
“So far, it has gone outstanding,” said Beattie of his summer team roping. “We’ve drawn good cattle and done well on the ones that are hard to get by.”
Beattie, a graduate of Helena Capital High School, also entered the weekend third in the tie-down roping standings and trailed Mitch Detton of Great Falls by just $27 in the all-around cowboy standings.
He won the tie-down roping and both Culbertson and Polson.
Not bad for somebody not planning to rodeo this summer.
“Chad came to me and said, ‘I’d like to rodeo,’ “ said Beattie. “I was like, ‘Sweet.’ “
“I grew up in the Northern Rodeo Association,” he continued. “I was born into rodeo. My father (Mike) was a long-time pickup man for Jacobs Livestock Rodeo. When I was five, I was one of the kids who moved horses for Dick Lyman. I rode a palomino horse. I loved that horse.”
It’s that connection to horses that have made the difference this year.
Beattie works for Turner Performance Horses, putting some of the top horses in his hands every day.
“They’ve got some of the best horses in the world,” he said. “We train them and get them ready for sale.
“(In rodeo) It’s all about the horses. It’s amazing how much better I’ve gotten with the horses I’m riding,” Beattie added with a good laugh.
Beattie is riding Journey, a seven-year-old gray in team roping and is aboard Austin, a five-year-old buckskin in tie-down roping.
“Journey, he’s the most ideal horse. He scores really good,” said Beattie. “Austin, he’s just a natural. He works hard every time.”
But make no mistake of his preferred event.
“I’m a team roper,” he said. “My dad told me to do tie-down because I was athletic.
“I just find more enjoyment in team roping. I work more on it than tie-down. There are five minds – two riders, two horses and a steer – involved. It has to be perfect or it doesn’t work. And you have to be lucky.”
The 5-11, 175-pound Beattie played both basketball and football at Helena Capital. He missed his senior season after suffering a major knee injury.
“When I was 18, Dillon Johnson (of Belt) said, ‘Hey, lets rodeo,’ “ said Beattie. “I told him I can’t because I had blown out my knee. I wore leg brace at a jackpot. It hurt so bad but felt so good to be on a horse again.”
And he’s feeling pretty good as the Mountain Health Co-op Tour will soon be at the halfway mark.
“Just keep catching,” Beattie said of the gameplan. “Chad turns me every steer. We want to try and win it at the Finals.”
Big wins and big checks meant some seismic changes in the event standings.
Justin Whiteman, Wacey Schalla, Casey Collins and Dillon Hahnkamp are four cowboys who made rapid climbs with multiple wins.
Whiteman, of Busby, won the saddle bronc titles at Harlowton and Choteau, while Schalla won bull riding crowns at Harlowton and Ennis. Schalla is from Arapaho, Oklahoma. His 89-point ride at Harlowton is the high-mark ride of the year.
Collins, of Billings, was the steer wrestling winner at Ennis and Choteau and added share of fourth place in tie-down roping at Harlowton. Collins was 3.5 seconds at Ennis, the fastest time this summer.
Hahnkamp, the reigning tie-down roping champion, put himself in the title race for 2023 with wins at Harlowton and Ennis. He earned $2,083, the most of any competitor during the Fourth of July run.
Raegan Taylor or Clancy won $2,053, winning the barrel racing at Ennis and placing third at Choteau.
Bozeman’s Nathaniel Dearhamer was busy, winning the bareback title at Choteau, while placing second at Harlowton and fourth at Ennis.
Molly Salmond of Choteau helped herself in the all-around cowgirl standings by collecting another $1,940. She won the breakaway roping at her hometown rodeo, earned checks in both breakaway roping and barrel racing in Ennis and another barrel racing check at Harlowton.
Harlowton winners: Trapper McAllister, Ronan, bareback; Justin Whiteman, Busby, saddle bronc; Wacey Schall, Arapaho, Oklahoma, bull riding; Austin Whitehouse, Helena, steer wrestling; Dillon Hahnkamp, Melrose, tie-down roping; Dustin Bird, Cut Bank-Ike Folsom, Jackson, team roping; Brittney Sporer, Cody, Wyoming, barrel racing; Hannah Botz, Bozeman, breakaway roping; Tye Brown, Helena, junior barrel racing; Dylan Burger, Helena and Bailey Billingsley, Glasgow, junior breakaway roping.
Ennis winners: Cache Hill, Cameron, bareback; Brand Morgan, McAllister, saddle bronc; Wacey Schalla, Arapaho, Okla., bull riding; Casey Collins, Billings steer wrestling; Dillon Hahnkamp, Melrose, tie-down roping; Chad Turner, East Helena-Gavin Beattie, Helena, team roping; Raegan Taylor, Clancy, barrel racing; Charley Yeager, Choteau, breakaway roping; Bailey Billingsley, Glasgow, junior barrel racing; Dylan Burger, Helena, junior breakaway roping.
Choteau winners: Nathaniel Dearhamer, Bozeman, bareback; Justin Whiteman, Busby, saddle bronc; Brock Poulin, Sulphur, La., bull riding; Casey Collins, Billings, steer wrestling; Cash Trexler, Corvallis, tie-down roping; JR Winter-Brandon Nicholls, Whitehall, team roping; Tammy Jo Carpenter, Kalispell, barrel racing; Molly Salmond, Choteau, breakaway roping; Sophia Neill, Whitefish, junior barrel racing; Bode Auck, East Helena, junior breakaway roping.
The high-octane action continues with rodeos at East Helena and Malta.
The East Helena Valley Rodeo is July 7 and 8 with 7 p.m. performances each day.
The Malta Rodeo is July 8 with a 6 p.m. performance.