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On The Trail with Malcom Heathershaw
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Malcom Heathershaw will spend the next few months healing up from breaking both bones (ulna and radius) in his left arm. “I drew a pretty wide stud and I was the first one out. I was three seconds and my stirrup on the left side snapped off – it sling-shotted me off the left side. My body weight folded my left arm. I tried getting up – it hit me like a bullet.” He had surgery where they inserted two plates and now is healing.
The Quinn, South Dakota, cowboy started riding steer saddle broncs in junior high and got on his first saddle bronc in eighth grade. He got his start by his dad (Mike) and other family members. “I have a lot of cousins that do it.” The biggest thing that helped me this year was a new practice that has been set up in New Underwood, SD. Louie Brunson started a weekly practice deal and everyone came down and provided us with a chance to get better. There have been a lot of rough stock coaches and pick-up men that have come to help. It was there that I really made a change for the better last spring. If you stick to it long enough you can always change the outcome of your goal.”
“I can relate that to my dad. His parents weren’t big on rodeo and he grew up learning from his older brother and mainly taught himself. He was very talented in his younger days – went to some pro rodeos – but as he got older he went to amateur rodeos and was in it for the sport of it instead of the world title.”
“These older guys are giving back to the younger boys,” said Mike, who ranches and raises commercial cattle and Quarter horses. Mike helps several of the boys in his community. “I just liked to ride and they kept paying me for a little while in my younger days. I got to know and helped a lot of the younger boys get started back in the day and now they are giving back to my son. You can’t teach them anything on their back, but once you get them staying on, it’s another level.” Mike hopes that Malcom will pursue college. “We are paying for his tuition on the installment plan. I can throw things at him and he learns. He’s about to go to the next step and take advice from his cousins, who have won many Saddle Bronc Titles themselves, Cash Wilson and Jeremy Meeks.
Along with a commercial cow herd the family owns Rockin T Quarter Horses. “We raise 15 to 20 baby colts a year,” explains Anita, a Title 1 teacher at Wall School in Wall, South Dakota. “In August, we take the colts up to the shed and spend three or four days halter breaking them. We do it slowly and then we sell them private treaty – we get a lot of repeat customers. My dad used to raise horses, his goal was to raise good looking buckskins.” They raise horses that can be used on the ranch or rodeo. “Our goal is to raise some nice bloodlines and good looking horses.” Malcom gets on the younger horses and gets them going good.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Malcom. “It’s a humbling experience doing that – it carries on to people – you’ve got to be able to read stuff to work with animals and it helps me deal with people.” Malcom is a junior and heads to school at 7:30. He used to drive in with his brother, Matthew, but since Mathew plays football, they take separate cars. They both drive older model Cadillacs. His classes include science, English, history, and math. “I’m a history buff, so I like that class.” Matthew and Malcom are a year apart, with their birthdays falling July 18 and 19.
Matthew is a calf roper. Both boys started in steer saddle bronc riding and roping calves. Once they got to high school, they each chose to focus on one event – Matthew stuck with tie down roping and Malcom went with saddle bronc. Riding broncs has become Malcom’s passion – growing up he excelled at football and basketball and is a very good student. “You’ve got to find your passion and he’s developed such a passion and a drive for saddle bronc riding – he thinks about it all the time,” said his mom, Anita. “When he started riding this spring he was really struggling, his dad, who is his main coach and who has mentored many young cowboys worked hard at trying to figure out the problem. He ended up getting a bigger saddle and that seemed to help a lot. His dad and he are so dedicated to get where he wants to be.”
Malcom ended his year fourth at state finals. His year started out rough – with the help of the practice pen and a new saddle, he got better each time he rode. At Nationals he ended up fourth as well. “I knew I was placing pretty good going into the short round and knew if I I just stayed on, I might get up there because the horses in the short go were tougher. I was ready to do good. My horse was probably one of the better horses I’ve gotten on; nice and smooth and even and I could show him off a little more.” It didn’t sink in that he ended up fourth in the nation for a few hours. “I was in awe that I got that far.” His goals for the future are to get better at rodeo, go to college, and keep performing at a higher level. “I know I want to continue to rodeo and work at the same time but I want a steady job to pay the bills.”