When life gives Shane and Taylor Hanchey lemons, there will undoubtedly be good lemonade to drink. It’s what has gotten them to 17 combined qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), Shane’s World Championship in tie-down roping in 2013 and Taylor’s coveted 2021 title of being the first — and only woman — to qualify for the national finals in barrel racing and breakaway roping. Nothing describes the couple’s tenacity better than the story of how they met. Shane explains, “We didn’t really know each other and then in 2013, Taylor’s rig broke down leaving Calgary Stampede, and I stopped in behind her to help. She and (her horse) Bo jumped in with me, and we headed to Nampa, Idaho, for slack.” As fate would have it, Shane’s truck broke down next, and the newly introduced travelers were forced to switch vehicles a few times before ending up in Salinas, California, over 1,400 miles away from Calgary, for the California Rodeo. “We kind of hit it off ever since,” he concludes. This seems a little understated for the couple that has been together nine years, married for nearly two, traveled the nation together competing at rodeos and launched a food catering trailer. Now based out of Carmine, Texas, where Taylor grew up, the Hancheys are living their dream on rodeo’s biggest stage. And they are just getting started.
Shane Hanchey has had an impressive 13 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifications spanning from 2010 to 2022, and, in 2013, he claimed the World Championship in Tie-Down Roping.
Taylor Hanchey credits Pam, a 20-year-old Quarter Horse, as being an “exceptional breakaway horse. She's made me the roper that I am.”
The Hancheys both had similar upbringings where they were introduced to horses early. Although Shane, 33, from Sulphur, Louisiana, had his hopes set on playing baseball and Taylor, 32, preferred roping over barrel racing, the two were drawn to their once-in-a-lifetime horses when they were young. Reata, a 1999 Quarter Horse gelding registered as Smokin Reata, was Shane’s mount that made many firsts come true for him. “Growing up, I roped a little, but I didn’t really see myself as a roper,” he remarks. “I liked to play baseball, and I thought maybe I was going to go on a baseball journey. Then, when I was a sophomore in high school, I had the opportunity to ride Reata and once I got on him, I transitioned to all things tie-down roping. I wanted to take advantage of this special horse, so I started home schooling and really perfecting my craft of roping calves.” Together Shane and Reata shared a special bond competing in everything from junior rodeos and youth rodeos, qualifying for both the high school and college rodeo finals, and continuing to shine all the way up to the most elite competition of them all — the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Shane first qualified for the WNFR in 2010. Shane reflects on his steed: “I would say a little bit of everything makes him special. Inside the arena, you could win on him in any setup whether it was Cheyenne, Calgary or the Thomas and Mack. He knew when he needed to be gritty, and he knew when he needed to be easy. That is probably the best way to explain it.” This fairytale horse’s story continues with Shane’s niece being Reata’s new jockey. With the pro-rodeo circuit behind him, this tie-down roping legend is living out his golden years being pampered and spoiled.
For Taylor, it took a little longer for her to realize she had her once-in-a-lifetime horse. As a communications major at Texas A&M University, she represented the rodeo team in barrel racing and breakaway roping. “I got Bo at the end of my sophomore year, but it took a little while for us to get together,” she says. Honor Thy Frenchman, also known as Bo, was a 2005 buckskin gelding that would eventually help Taylor qualify twice for the WNFR in barrel racing and set an arena record in the Thomas and Mack. He was a force to be reckoned with that helped transition a young woman’s life. “Bo just kind of catapulted my career,” Taylor explains. “He was the one that took me to my first NFR, and he made all this a reality. This great horse brought me my career, and here I am today still doing it.” Since turning pro, she has career earnings of over $590,000 — most of which she won with Bo. Although she lost Bo before his time, she continues to keep his spirit alive by raising young horses from similar bloodlines. She’s now seasoning an upand- coming 7-year-old buckskin out of Bo’s full sister and hoping to haul him to more rodeos this year. Shane jokes, “He looks similar to Bo, and he goes left (like Bo). It’s kind of crazy to watch.” Taylor adds, “His registered name is Honor Thy Firewater, which pays homage to Bo since he was Honor Thy Frenchman.” With a name like that, it’s no wonder she has high hopes for her next generation super-star.
Shane and Taylor Hanchey have a combined 17 qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Reata, a 1999 Quarter Horse gelding registered as Smokin Reata, was Shane’s mount that took him to the high school and college rodeo finals, and to his first WNFR in 2010.
Honor Thy Frenchman, also known as Bo, was a 2005 buckskin gelding that would eventually help Taylor qualify twice for the WNFR in barrel racing and set an arena record in the Thomas and Mack.
It’s easy to forget that when the Hancheys first met, Taylor was traveling and competing in barrel racing, not breakaway roping like she does today. After losing Bo, she took some time off from competing to heal and find her swing again. “I kind of just did my own thing at home for a while,” she recalls. “Shane was out rodeoing, and I was here riding and feeding horses. But, I started to miss that competitiveness.” She started roping again — first at home “borrowing” Shane’s horses, but that didn’t last long. “In 2020 while Shane and I were quarantining during the finals, I watched the WNFR Breakaway on the webcast, and that’s really when it hit me that I wanted to do that. When we got home, I started taking it a little bit more seriously,” she explains. With help from the horses her supportive husband happily shared, there was no stopping Taylor’s goal of qualifying for the WNFR in breakaway roping. A milestone she achieved in 2021 and again in 2022.
Now that Taylor is roping alongside her husband, their special bond has strengthened not only outside the arena but inside as well. They are competitive to the core, so when it’s time to rope, they’re all business. “It’s certainly different now that she is roping at the rodeos,” Shane explains. “She wants to win and so do I. We’re always trying to figure out what horses to ride, how to adapt to certain setups, what calves we drew and all that.” Constant competition doesn’t leave much time for this rodeo-loving duo to spend relaxing with each other, but that hasn’t lessened their bond or dampened their competitive drive.
Though Shane and Taylor don’t compete in the same event, the horsepower each needs is similar in many facets. Both need a horse that can stand in the box quietly and run hard once the calf has left the chute. The difference is in the stop. Shane explains, “For me, I want a horse that’s going to be a little bit more forgiving to where I can keep the calf standing where Taylor’s sport is so fast. She needs a horse that’s going to pop the rope off (the saddle horn) quickly.” Luckily, they own a mare that does both. Lanas Little Dual, better known as Pam, is a 20-year-old Quarter Horse that used to be Shane’s main mount until his wife started roping. Taylor explains, “At first, he would just let me borrow Pam, but now he fully admits that she’s my horse. She’s been a game changer for me. I roped good before, but she’s an exceptional breakaway horse. She has made me the roper that I am.” Luckily for this four-time WNFR qualifier, her husband can’t argue with the success she and Pam have had, so he has since found himself riding his other calf horse, Si, more often.
Registered as Simon Cow, Si is a 17-yearold gelding that was tie-down roping’s American Quarter Horse Association Horse of the Year in 2017. As the seasoned veteran of the team, Si leads the way for the young horses Shane is raising. “I’ve got two that I have pretty high hopes for,” Shane says. “I have a 6-yearold named Marty that I’ve probably won close to $20,000 on in the Royal Crown Futurity. Then, I have a 5-year-old named Johnny that I think could be one of the better ones I’ve ever had.” In the past couple years, Shane’s new challenge is raising and training his own prospects. “It’s kind of a different transition for me,” he says. “Luckily, I have people like my brother and my uncle that are still training horses that can help me, but it’s a different and satisfying feeling riding a horse that you’ve trained. I never really knew that until this year.” Even at the top of his game, he’s finding ways to challenge himself and working hard to raise the next generation of rope horses for him and his wife to take on their rodeo journey.
It’s pretty rare to find horses able to compete at the most-elite rodeo level when they are 17 to 20 years old, but for the Hancheys, that’s the age range of their three best horses. “It works to my advantage as far as roping goes because I don’t worry about them. They do their job every time no matter what,” Taylor says. “That’s important for me to be able to focus on just my job.” Because of their horses’ age, the couple understands that preventative care and nutrition are key to continued success. “Our veterinarians are huge to us,” she continues. “They are the reason that our horses are able to perform at the level that they are. They aren’t just veterinarians. They are also family. Dr. Marty Tanner actually married Shane and I, so that tells you how close we are with him. He knows what we need for our horses, and he knows how to get them to feel their best, so they can perform.” Dr. Tanner has more than 30 years of experience in equine medicine and has traveled to the WNFR to serve his clients for over a decade. Along with regular wellness checks from Dr. Tanner, Taylor and Shane have also been longtime Platinum Performance® clients. “For me, Reata had colic surgery in November of 2012, and my vet introduced me to Platinum then,” Shane recalls. “I’ve been a client ever since.” Their horses are fed a combination of Platinum Performance® Equine, Platinum Joint Care Competition + HA and Platinum Balance™ to give them the ultimate support for senior horse health from well-rounded joint support to ingredients working in concert for optimal digestive health, including specially-chosen pre- and-probiotics. This has proved to be a winning protocol, keeping their “geriatric crew” — as Taylor calls them — going strong while they travel the rodeo trail.
“The young horses are a big deal for me. If I’m able to have success on a horse that I’ve trained and have the opportunity to run him at the (WNFR) finals, that’d be the ultimate goal.”
— Shane Hanchey, World Champion Tie-Down Roper
The Hancheys have come a long way since that first impromptu road trip. As they continue, their goals and dreams have aligned. Of course, the WNFR is always on their minds, but now they have new aspirations. While Taylor has been busy raising foals out of Bo’s full sister to use in the barrels, Shane has been breeding Pam in hopes of getting strong calf roping prospects. “The young horses are a big deal for me,” he says. “If I’m able to have success on a horse that I’ve trained and have the opportunity to run him at the (WNFR) finals, that’d be the ultimate goal.” For rodeo fans, it’s always exciting to watch these two: first as individuals accomplishing their goals inside the arena, to almost a decade later, married and working as a team with even bigger dreams. From accidental travel companions to forever partners, the Hancheys will undoubtedly top the PRCA and WPRA standings for years to come, hopefully riding the home-bred mounts that they’ve poured their time, attention and dedication into.
In the spring, the Hancheys take a little break from rodeoing to boil crawfish in their mobile Cajun food trailer they’ve adoringly named Bo’s Boil N Geaux or as Taylor calls it: Shane’s baby. The Cajun trailer offers boiled crawfish and shrimp, crawfish etouffee and gumbo. Shane adds, “I just love everything about being from Louisiana. The food and the people are the two main things that stick out to me. I just thought maybe I could bring a little bit of Louisiana food to Texas, and people would enjoy it.”
Four years later, it seems that Shane was right; everyone loves it. “It’s been pretty fun,” he adds. “It’s a nice change of pace for us. We don’t wake up every morning saddling horses; we wake up and go get crawfish.” From February to June, during crawfish season, this rodeo-loving duo trades off weekends working the food trailer and going to rodeos, so that one is always there to manage the business and more importantly, boil the crawfish.
It’s rare that you find two rodeo stars and WNFR competitors in the same household. In Shane and Taylor Hanchey’s case, they share a passion for rodeo, their commingled string of top-tier horses and their Cajun side gig that brings Shane’s Louisiana roots to Texas.Listen