Montana’s Haven Meged enters NFR as 2nd calf roper, top rookie
Haven Meged should be taking his college finals during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but he’s got better things to do.
The 21-year-old cowboy, a tie-down roper from Miles City, Mont., won’t be doing much studying from Dec. 5-14. He’ll be too busy competing at his first WNFR.
Meged is a senior at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, and he’s scheduled as many online classes as he can, so he is able to pro rodeo. After two years at Western Oklahoma State University in Altus, he’s in his second year at Tarleton and will graduate next May with a degree in ag industries and agencies.
The son of Bart and Misty Meged, Haven grew up roping around the family ranch and began tie-down roping in eighth grade. He competed in junior high and high school rodeo, in more than just tie-down: the cutting, reined cow horse, steer wrestling and team roping, and winning eleven high school state titles (three all-arounds, three cutting, two tie-down roping, one team roping as a heeler, one in the reined cow horse, and one rookie all-around.)
In college, he has qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo twice, finishing the 2018-2019 school year as national collegiate tie-down roping champion. He bought his PRCA permit in 2017 and kept it for two years, choosing to get his PRCA card at the start of the 2019 season, in October of ’18.
Finishing as year-end champion at the Montana Circuit Finals in January was the beginning of Meged’s extraordinary year. He went on to win the RAM National Circuit Finals in Florida in March, then stayed in the top fifteen throughout the season. His biggest wins were in Florida, Deadwood, S.D., San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and Puyallup, Wash.
When he bought his PRCA card last fall, he made a few phone calls, getting some advice. “I talked to some guys who had made the Finals a bunch, and asked if they could help me enter and tell me the (rodeos) where I should go.” Two-time world champion Shane Hanchey and last year’s 2018 tie-down rookie of the year Ty Harris were two of his phone calls. He traveled with Harris much of the season.
By the Fourth of July, he had $62,000 won. But his rodeo road wasn’t all roses. There were plenty of highs and lows. Over the Fourth, he went to fifteen rodeos and won $800. He was in a slump. “I called my mom and said I want to come home,” he said. Her reply? “Come home, then.” So he went home for a few days, taking care of his cows, and didn’t touch a rope. Before he left, his dad offered sound wisdom: “Take care of one calf at a time,” Meged said. “And that’s when everything turned around.”
Tie-down ropers are allowed to count 85 pro rodeos towards the standings, but Meged estimates he went to 100. Rodeoing full time to make the WNFR isn’t easy. “It’s damn sure hard on you, that’s for sure,” he said. “It will wear on you. Going all day and all night, going through the highs and lows, and swiping your credit card all day.” He’s won $119,878 this season, but it’s not pure profit. “Everybody says, you’ve won a lot of money this year, but you have to figure in what a horse costs, what rigs costs, what diesel costs. That stuff all adds up fast.”
His mount at the WNFR is a nine year old black mare named Beyonce. Meged purchased her from an unlikely place: Facebook. His friend Brett Fleming sent him a video of the mare, who was in Arizona, telling him he needed to ride her. Meged made the thirteen hour trip straight through, rode her, and bought her. “She wasn’t the best but she could run.” He spent some time training her and she’s only improved. “Honestly, she gets better every run,” he said. “She’s still not done improving. She keeps getting better. I’ve ridden her everywhere, and she’s just phenomenal every time.”
His second horse, a ten-year-old black gelding named Jaysnic, got hurt in early July and will be out for a year.
Meged has a four-year-old he’s starting who will also make the trip to Las Vegas, but will be his grand entry horse. “He’s a freak for a four-year-old,” he said, referring to the horse’s talent, but the Thomas and Mack arena can be tough for a horse to adapt to. “There’s just not a lot of horses you want to take there. It’s small and the crowd is over the top of you.”
His college classes are a bit tougher this year, including some finance classes, but he doesn’t neglect his school work. “I guess I stay pretty strict about school,” he said. “I try to stay on top of my grades. I don’t like getting behind because I feel like I can never catch up.” His professors have been willing to move a finals test to the week before the WNFR.
His mom will be in Las Vegas for the entire rodeo, doing chores for Meged’s horse, running errands, and doing whatever her son needs. His dad will be there part of the time; Bart will stay home to tend to the ranch and the sale barn, which the family owns.
Meged has three younger siblings: brothers Hayes, who is nineteen, and Holden, age thirteen, and sister Harley, who is sixteen.
Meged has a plan for when he retires from rodeo, and he’s actually started on that plan. He owns a herd of registered Black Angus and commercial cows, and he has big goals. “I want to have one of the best cow herds in Montana and the world.” He works to improve his genetics. “I really focus on studying the Angus breed and what good cows and bulls I want in my program.” He also wants to take over the family’s sale barn.
But before then, there are classes to study for, finals to take, and ten calves to rope in Las Vegas.
Meged enters the WNFR in second place behind the reigning and two-time world champion Caleb Smidt. He leads the Resistol Rookie of the Year race for his event; because the number two man in the race, Shad Mayfield, has also qualified for the WNFR, the winner won’t be determined till after the WNFR.