Episode 040 - A One-Legged Rodeo Legend

In this episode, we hear stories from Mike Haverty, grandson of the famed "Oklahoma Pete" and son of a rodeo world champion, as he shares stories about his one-legged grandfather. From his upbringing in the shadow of his family's legacy to carving his own path in the Western industry, Mike shares insights into heritage, determination, and the enduring spirit of a cowboy.

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Podcast Transcript

Taylor McAdams: Hey, everybody, and thank you for listening to the Kick Your Boots Up podcast. We're so excited you're here. Don't forget to hit that like button. Subscribe. Tell us how you feel about this episode. What you want to see more in the future? We'd love to get some guests on. So tell us all about it. But for sure, share it with your friends. Thank you for listening. And today's episode is a treat. I know I say that every week, but we don't have bad guests. So that's exactly what we're going to do. This is Mr. Mike Haverty. Mike, you don't need an introduction because your reputation precedes you. You are a legend in the industry. And you've paved the way. But something I just learned the other day and exactly while you're on the podcast is your rodeo roots go way, way back. And it's we're gonna get we're gonna dive really full into that in a little bit. But before we do, we gotta know about you. So tell us about yourself. You grew up in Arizona.

Mike Haverty: I grew up in Arizona till I was in junior high, and then we moved to Las Vegas. So, I actually grew up in Las Vegas. 

Taylor McAdams: Oh, I see. I'm just learning that for the first time. 

Mike Haverty: Yeah, I tell people I'm from Arizona and from Las Vegas. Also. 

Taylor McAdams: You claim both? Depending on the day, I guess, 

Mike Haverty: Depending on who I'm talking to. 

Taylor McAdams: Absolutely. Okay, so you are a sales manager here at Justin Brands. Tell us about your experience there and how you got to become this role.

Mike Haverty: So, My first experience was with Wrangler Jeans. So I worked for Wrangler Jeans for about 18 years, came to work for Justin. So, I've been with Justin for about 16-17 years. And so I finally made it to manager.  

Taylor McAdams: Finally, that's how many years it takes, right? Yeah, 16-17 years,

Mike Haverty: So I’ve got plenty of years in the industry. So that's good. You know, there's a lot of people in our industry that have as many or more years than I do so. 

Taylor McAdams: And that's what I love about it, too. Because even though you're at Justin now, you were at Wrangler, and you have friends with other brands. And you all get together this we're like you guys just get together and any opportunity you have you go to parties, and you go to dinner, and in the camaraderie, there's good, 

Mike Haverty: Very good friends with all my wrangler buddies, you know, from working with them for years. And, of course, all the Justin guys, too so.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah. And you had to have started in your humble beginnings. You know, I know Wrangler helped you, but you have to transition into boots that's a little bit different from jeans. So tell us about when you first got started adjusting to now some of the things you've seen change the trends, even whatever, whatever comes to mind. 

Mike Haverty: You know, there's been a lot of changes in the boot world with Western. The main one has been the wide square toe

Taylor McAdams: Oh

Mike Haverty: So when I went to work for Justin, it was still ropers and R toes Western toe Western heel. And about three or four years into when we were when I came in to Justin wide square toe started to become very popular, and now that's probably 70- 75% of our business. Now you do see some things now trending back to maybe some R toes and some round toes and things like that. So I basically tell everybody that every toe is in right now you don't have a toe this is really not acceptable right now. So

Taylor McAdams: I'll second that. Because even speaking with fashion influencers and getting their opinions on things, truly Western, is so cool. I mean, you walk down the streets of Nashville, everyone wants to be a cowboy, walk down the streets of LA, everyone wants to be a cowboy your work.

Mike Haverty: I just left Los Angeles, and there's a lot of cowgirls and cowboys out out in LA right now buying boots. It in the ladies' business, it's even more so fashion a lot of tall boots right now, a lot of tall, colorful, with Western toe Western heel type looks. Oh, yeah. So yeah, it's it's, it's kind of fun to see how it's kind of graduated into multi-toes and multi heels and things so well. And

Taylor McAdams: I can't help the ask out of all the toes. What's your personal favorite because you probably sell it the best?

Mike Haverty: I'm still a wide square toe guy, but I just because they're hard to get off in they're not off physically, but they're hard to get off my feet. I've recently gotten a couple of our cutter-toe boots I love, so there may be some additions to my boot selection in my in my closet. Yeah, my closet.

Taylor McAdams: Well, you guys hear that Mike Haverty might be changing his favorite booth style that is going to be news right there. Which is so interesting, though, because a lot of people didn't- never got on board with the wide square. A lot of people want to stick to the traditional roper. And so I commend you for that. 

Mike Haverty: You know what there's, there's a feature to the wide square toe  that people don't talk about and that's your, your toes can move. So square toe, your toes can move in a rope where you're kind of they're kind of a little bit tighter. So there is a physical feature benefit that comes with a wide square toe so.

Taylor McAdams: Well, I know you didn't get on here to sell boots, even though I do appreciate you talking about them. The real story here is your family and, more specifically, your grandpa and your dad yesterday, we were casually Talking, and one of the sales reps, David King, we got to give him a shout out was like, Do you know who his dad is? You know, and it just got into this history I'm sure you know my all my search history we have done a history rabbit hole of all the rodeo legends, But what was so impressive to me is let's start with your dad specifically because you have pictures of your dad and your grandpa with Casey Tibbs, Jim Shoulders . All that

Mike Haverty: Yeah, Dad was in that same era. And he was you know, top five top 10 In the early 50’s Madison Square Garden all around saddle. I've got it in my garage.  

Taylor McAdams: No big deal. Just literally, I'm sure this would be a museum saddle.

Mike Haverty: Calgary bronzes so. 

Taylor McAdams: Yes, that's right, because he's kind of- your dad was kind of known as like he's the guy that's gotten second and almost all the legendary rodeos. Calgary, Cheyenne, Pendleton, Prescott . I think he won Prescott. 

Mike Haverty: Yeah, he won Prescott. He won the All around at Pendleton also. 

Taylor McAdams: Yeah, wow, that's so legendary. And all of this happened before the PRCA, too. So- 

Mike Haverty: Right, and it was kind of when the Cowboy Turtle Association and IRA were all kind of trying to figure out what what their path was going to be that morphed into the PRCA. So yes.

Taylor McAdams: He was a history and even getting to see the pictures that you have your home photos, which is not like anyone else's home photos. It's the turtle Cowboy’s Turtles Association card.

Mike Haverty: So my grandfather, he was Oklahoma Pete Haverty. He was the one who had one leg who was actively going to rodeos and also in roping.

Taylor McAdams: Okay. Wait, what? He had one leg? 

Mike Haverty: Yes. Oh, did you didn't see those pictures?

Taylor McAdams: Let's let's tell everyone about it. I knew that. So let's tell everyone out there then because that is like the main point right there, one leg, how are you successful with one leg and you

Mike Haverty: I don’t know how he did it, but I've got pictures to prove it. So there he has I've got pictures of his physical Cowboys’ Turtle Association. Cards. Yeah. And which is kind of cool. And and then, you know, he was he was probably a great athlete. That could only do it halfway. That makes sense. 

Taylor McAdams: Because no one leg. Yeah. And I think you have to bust a myth, a myth too, because a lot of articles out there said that he had blood poisoning, and that's why he lost his leg. Because back then, in the 1800s, they didn't really know so

Mike Haverty: and he was eight years old, I believe. And I think it was from a spider bite. Anyway, it was a blood poisoning. That happened, and he did lose his leg because of that. So 

Taylor McAdams: And You were telling me, too, that people would pay his entry fees pay for him to go to rodeos just so they could see him rope? 

Mike Haverty: Pendleton to Salinas I've got pictures of him at Pendleton Steer Ropin’ and Salinas Yeah, it's it's quite the pictures are are quite legendary.

Taylor McAdams: So and, he did team roping, but more specifically, steer roping. 

Mike Haverty: Yeah. And that’s where you have to get off and tie. 

Taylor McAdams: That's the thing. Like so many people out there don't know what's steer roping is and think of calf roping where they're small calves, steers are big. You have to jerk them down-

Mike Haverty: And also, Team Roping wasn't a dally deal. It was a-

Taylor McAdams: Oh, 

Mike Haverty: It was connected on to the saddle horn. So, team roping back then? The header when the heel when the healer healed the stairs. He had to get off his horse and go tie the steer. Oh, that's some of those pictures are him team roping.

Taylor McAdams: Okay, that was probably the confusion there. Yeah, yeah. Wow. But still, nonetheless, with one leg.

Mike Haverty: I feel like that the other one in Pendleton was a steer roping picture. So

Taylor McAdams: that humbles you a little bit because a lot of people can't even do that with two legs.  

Mike Haverty: Yeah, absolutely. I, you know, I cry when I do something. You know, I go, Oh, my grandfather, you know? Oh, yeah.

Taylor McAdams: My back hurts from picking up all these salesman sample bags. 

Mike Haverty: Yeah. Yeah.

Taylor McAdams: But kind of going back to your dad a little bit too. I know that he had his dad to look up to first of all because of the grit that he had with the one leg but moving on to like the overall growing up being his son and knowing that he had a saddle for Madison Square Garden. And he had all that experience with with Casey Tibbs. And Jim shoulders, like I said, big legends. 

Mike Haverty: You know, it’s funny about him is he did I think it was probably maybe that generation. So when he won a saddle, he didn't put it in his trophy case. He put it on a horse, and he rode roping or riding or training. And he won a saddle Scottsdale and I remember this distinctly because it had a huge deal on the back of it. And a silver insignia about Scottsdale and Scottsdale rodeo, and that's the only thing that made it out of that. 

Taylor McAdams: He took the silver off-

Mike Haverty: Yes. And he put the saddle on one of his colts, and you know, it used it, and they use either using it as a rope. So the, the saddle I have from Madison Square Garden. I had to get it oil because it was used so much, but My dad, the all-around saddle from Madison Square Garden. He didn't even put it in the back. He put it, he put it on a horse's back and used it. And I had to get it all oiled up and redone. Just so the letters barely show up. Yeah.

Taylor McAdams: Have you ever reached out to any museums and asked Hey, do you want the saddle? What would it be like?

Mike Haverty: Yeah, he was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 94, I believe it was, and so at some point, that may end up there, I've talked to them to see Yeah, they said yeah, they take it, and I did that last year. So they said anytime you want to bring it by or bring it to us, you know we'll take it, so it may end up there at some point well, 

Taylor McAdams: I know, being an “Okie,” I love touring those halls, and they do a good job. The Hall of Fame. Conway Hall of Fame does so good. Switching things out making it new for everyone that goes there. So that's cool. But again, going back to your dad, he was an all-around, I think it's super important to say 1951 All-around champion cowboy before the PRCA, his events were bareback, riding

Mike Haverty: bareback, zero being he threw open calf roping,

Taylor McAdams: he didn't ride bulls, Diddy. Did you read the once in a while for riding, too? 

Mike Haverty: We have a picture of him riding the bull at the Coliseum in LA. And that was the one picture that I think I showed you that. You know, there's 100,000 people in that Coliseum. So it was before the or after the Olympics, you know, back in Fif, somewhere in the 50’s 51 or 52. But it's kind of an amazing photo because the background is, is you know, the Coliseum, you know, so

Taylor McAdams: an iconic and never Yeah, you'll never get to recreate that again, for sure. And to kind of tie things up. And in this interview, I'm going to ask what was it like for you growing up with knowing that your grandpa was a legend, but now your dad was a legend and hung out with the legends? Was that a lot of pressure for you?

Mike Haverty: It it really wasn't. Because growing up that way, you don't realize all I knew is since I had grown up, no, anything. We were going to rodeos. That's how he made a living back then at that time, among other things. But you know, during the summer, spring and summer and fall, we were going to rodeo and and he started to slow down as me and my sister got older. But when I was younger, that's what we did. You know, so

Taylor McAdams: I guess we could call you a rodeo brat? 

Mike Haverty: Yes, yeah.  And you learned at a young age then not only how to stay in the saddle but how to start roping yourself and your rope today, right? 

Mike Haverty: Oh, yeah. And I wrote quite a bit. And I was I roped in PRCA for about 20 years. And it was great, you know, great experiences. I loved it. Mainly. Tie-Down roping, calf ropin'. And I did some team roping also in some secure open. But I did a little bit of bareback riding. But I love my job. And I could kind of do that, plus my job. So that worked out great to fit

Taylor McAdams: It did, and you realize at one point in time that you weren't you weren't just good enough to make all the money and rodeo. So you had to figure out how to get a job, right? You're smartin' up some time.

Mike Haverty: Oh yeah. We figured out at that point that you had to have money for your entry fee. So, I knew I had to have a job for my interest again.

Taylor McAdams: Well, I commend you. And before we go, will you show everyone do you still have both your thumbs since you’re a team roper?

Mike Haverty: Yeah, they're still there. Yeah. They've gotten caught a couple of times, but I've been pretty lucky. 

Taylor McAdams: You know, my dad would never let me actually try team roping because he was afraid I would get my thumb in. Yeah, so I did a lot of dummy roping and told myself one day I would, but never- 

Mike Haverty:   Yeah, he was probably a smart guy. Yeah. 

Taylor McAdams:   And girls, for sure. Well, Mike, thank you for taking the time to talk with us and share your story. I think your dad and grandpa will go down in history already have gone down in history. And it's important to share their legacies and to live it on and so thank you for not only living the way that Justin lives, you know, the standard of the West and keep upholding those standards but for sharing your legacy as well. 

Mike Haverty: Thank you.

Taylor McAdams: Of course. Thank you for listening to the Kick Your Boots Up podcast. Tune in next time when we come back with more to kick your boots up. Thank you guys. I'm your host, Taylor McAdams. Enjoy your time. Thanks for joining us on Kick Your Boots Up. I'm your host, Taylor McAdams, and we can't wait to share the next story of the West. Until then, feel free to like, subscribe, and leave us a review. Follow us on social media at Justin Boots to keep up with our next episode. And we'll see you the next time you kick your boots up.