The Cactus Story: 25 Years of Twisting Fate

25th annivThe legacy that is Cactus started 25 years ago when a couple farmers and a NFR rodeo cowboy had the idea to start a team rope company. Little did they know two and a half decades later, their brand would be one of the most recognized and valued names in the entire western industry.

“Cactus” Jack Stephenson grew up ranching, training horses, and rodeoing in south Texas. His list of his accomplishments in the rodeo arena are many, including a trip to the NFR where he headed for his son Jacky. Jack also won the very first George Strait Team Roping Classic with Jacky and then won it a second time with Rich Skelton. That was the first time George gave trucks to the champions. While in the middle of rodeoing, breaking colts, and riding feedlots, “Cactus” Jack as they called him, also thought it would be a great time to start a rope company. He needed some help for his big idea to get kicked off, and ended up calling on two good friends; Joe Mathews and Mike Piland.

Before Mike got the call from Cactus Jack, he and his partner were farming, ranching and ginning cotton in the Winter Garden area south of San Antonio, Texas. When Jack approached Mike and Joe about the idea of a rope company, none of them had any idea how to make a rope, but they decided to give it a go. With that Cactus Ropes was born.

“The guy pulled up and unloaded about 50 million pieces out of the back of his truck and trailer and then just drove off!” Mike said. “We bought this old string twisting machine and it was the most complicated thing I’d ever seen! It didn’t have an instruction manual, parts list, or nothing!”

Mike and Cactus Jack, with lots of help from Barry Berg and others, got the twisting machine up and running and eventually started producing their first rope; the Bad Boy. Jack’s other son Robb was the first to learn to correctly coil the ropes and was instrumental in creating a rope that felt good to the customers.

“Allen Bach was the guy who helped us tweak the body and feel of those first ropes until we got them just right” Jack said. “We pulled another kid out of the feedlot (Barry Berg) and he came on board to tweak the machinery, work with Allen, and help test all the new ropes.”

Fast forward to today and Jack is still roping and training horses around Pleasanton, Texas. Mike still goes to the rope shop every day, Robb is still on the rope floor coiling away, and that kid they pulled out of the feedlot, Barry Berg, is now the General Manager of the whole business.

Through some purchases and acquisitions, the Cactus brand also grew into one of the largest saddle companies in the United States, as well as becoming a household name in leg protection and horse blankets. Cactus Saddlery now builds all the PRCA World Champion saddles, WNFR Average Saddles, The American Saddles, World Series Finale saddles and also supplies American Made trophy products to most all major roping and rodeo associations in the country. Cactus Gear has a full line of leg protection and equine products that are used by horse owners of all disciplines. Cactus also produces the full line of Trevor Brazile’s Relentless products including ropes, sport boots, saddles, tack and pads. Many other professionals look to the Cactus brand including barrel racers like Fallon Taylor­ who partnered up with Cactus to design and introduce the Dynamic Edge line of tack, pads, leg protection, and barrel saddles. Heel­O­Matic Training Systems also joined the team along the way, and the top Cactus Cowboys in the game, such as Clay O’Brien Cooper, Chad Masters, and Jake Long are constantly helping with ideas and designs that will help ropers with practice and horsemanship.

The Cactus story is one of passion, drive and vision. Jack, Mike, Barry, the Cactus Crew, and everyone over the 25 years that had a hand in building the company are proud, honored, and humbled to be associated with a brand that has stood the test of time. If you are ever in south Texas around San Antonio, come on over. Mike will tell you the whole story and you will more than likely end up in the rope room with Barry and Robb swinging the newest innovation in nylon and poly technology.
Written by: Dru Stewart


Press Release: HOOey Calf Rope & HOOey Youth Rope

For more information, contact: Dru Stewart, VP Marketing Pro Equine roup
Phone: (903) 441.0700

Cactus Ropes Introduces – HOOey Calf Rope & HOOey Youth Rope
Cactus Ropes is excited to announce a partnership that will rock tie-down and breakaway ropers everywhere!

HOOey, one of the hottest hat and apparel brands in the Western industry, has partnered with Cactus Ropes to design a one-of-a-kind calf rope. This straight poly is the first in its class to have the lay, body, and feel that is comparable to traditional grass ropes.

“I have always admired Cactus, first as a roper and now as a partner in developing this new rope,” explained Hooey’s Joey Austin. “Our teams have not only worked together to get the right feel, but we wanted to ensure this rope stays consistent run after run.”

The HOOey Calf Rope takes the traits of a grass rope, such as more body in an extra soft lay and less stretch, and pumps them into a full poly rope. For the first time ever, this rope will offer an unparalleled feel with the consistency of a poly. The HOOey Calf Rope is available in sizes from 9.0 to 10.75.

For young roping athletes, Cactus took the design one step further and developed a youth rope with the exact traits of the HOOey Calf Rope. The HOOey Youth Rope is also 100 percent poly and offers ropers the perfect balance and size for fun or competition.

Cactus Ropes products are used by top athletes like Trevor Brazile, Chad Masters and Clay O’Brien Cooper, just to name a few. Cactus Ropes is part of the Pro Equine Group, which includes Cactus Gear, Cactus Saddlery, Fastback Ropes and HeelOMatic.

To find a retailer near you, visit


Jarrett Ready to Add Another Gold Buckle

2005 All-Around World Champion Ryan Jarrett
For information (660) 254-1900
Contact Ted Harbin

LAS VEGAS – Ryan Jarrett isn’t one to rest on his laurels.
Jarrett already owns the most coveted piece of hardware in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association: The gold buckle that is given to the all-around world champion cowboy. That came in 2005, when he was 21 years old.

Now he’s back in Las Vegas for his seventh qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, solidifying a spot to ProRodeo’s grand finale by finishing the regular season among the top 15 tie-down ropers in the world. The $74,758 he earned through the rigors of the 2012 campaign puts him in 10th place heading into the 10-round slugfest, the richest rodeo in the world with a $6.5 million purse.

“It’s good knowing you’re one of the top 15 ropers,” said Jarrett, 28, of Comanche, Okla.

Jarrett has proven that much of his career. He joined the PRCA in 2004, then qualified for the NFR a year later in both tie-down roping and steer wrestling. He won the calf roping average championship at finals that December, which propelled him to the No. 1 spot in the all-around standings. Not bad for a cowboy that was raised on a dairy ranch in northwest Georgia.

“Nobody from my family had ever been involved in rodeo,” said Jarrett, who began competing at age 8. “My dad had a friend that was from Texas that we used to sell dairy cattle to, and his son rodeoed. I hung around him for a couple of summers, and it went from there.” Now he travels the circuit as one of the best in the business and credits his partnerships with Wrangler Jeans, Oxbow Tack, Cactus Ropes and Purina for helping him succeed in the sport he loves.

“I really couldn’t do it without their support,” he said.

That’s very true. Rodeo cowboys spend much of the season on the road, traveling more than 100,000 miles in a year to try to make their livings. Jarrett hauls multiple horses in a trailer that features living quarters – his home away from home. Between food, fuel, entry fees and other expenses, most contestants scrape by each season in order to qualify for the NFR.

But Las Vegas is the place to play. Go-round winners will earn $18,257 each night, and the contestant in each event with the best cumulative time or score at the conclusion of the NFR will add $46,821. Without sponsors, this is about the only chance the cowboys get to make a significant profit.

“I love it and love the competition,” Jarrett said. “There’s no other sport like it.”

There are no guarantees in rodeo. In addition to paying fees in order to compete, cowboys only earn money if they’ve performed better than most of the competition. At the NFR, for example, only the top six places earn money in the go-rounds; that means the other nine contestants in each event will fail to earn money that night.

That’s quite a bit different than most professional athletes. In addition, top hands know it takes a great partner to give themselves the best chance to win. In Jarrett’s case, he’s relying on an old friend, Country, a 13-year-old chestnut horse he sold to friend and occasional traveling partner Clint Robinson several years ago – Robinson is the fifth-ranked tie-down roper heading into Thursday’s first round.

“I rode him here in 2005 and ’06, and I rode him out here last year,” Jarrett said. “For this situation, he’s pretty good. This horse is good for short starts and timing fast.”

The NFR takes place in the Thomas and Mack Arena on the University of Nevada-Las Vegas campus. Dirt is packed into a space about the size of a basketball court, so tie-down roping is blink-of-the-eye fast. Jarrett knows that as well as anyone. He’s missed this grand championship just twice in his career – in 2007, after he tore the ACL in one of his knees, and in 2008, when he finished the regular season 16th in the world.
Last December, he placed in six go-rounds, including wins on the sixth and seventh nights. He finished 2011 fourth in the tie-down roping standings and fourth in the all-around.
But his biggest accomplishment came just before the 2010 NFR, when Jarrett married his longtime girlfriend, the former Shy-Anne Bowden. The nuptials took place Dec. 1 in Las Vegas, so oftentimes the couple celebrates its anniversary in the City of Lights.
“This year we were actually traveling to Vegas on our anniversary,” said Jarrett, who said Shy-Anne handles much of the work around their place when he’s traveling; while they’re in Vegas, they’ve enlisted the assistance of her mother, Billy and Sandy Bowden of Comanche. “She’s in control when I’m gone. She’s got some young horses and goes barrel racing at some amateur rodeos when she can.
“She takes care of a lot.”
That’s just part of the family life. Rodeo folks live the Western lifestyle, so they know the importance of caring for land and for livestock. It’s something Ryan Jarrett learned years ago in Georgia. His father, DeJuan, runs the dairy farm, while his mother, Joan, is a retired elementary school teacher. Jarrett has an older sister, Lauren.
“People have no idea how much family and friends do for you throughout the year and the sacrificed they have to make to allow for you to do this,” said Jarrett, who joins New Yorker Harry Tompkins as the only two all-around world champions from east of the Mississippi River.
Rodeo folks like to consider themselves family, so friends have a tight bond. They’re also willing to help along the way. Jarrett has had his fair share of help in his career and credits another East Coast cowboy, team roper Casey Cox, for getting him started.
“He taught me a lot about rodeoiong,” Jarrett said of Cox.
It’s worked pretty well. With his gold buckle firmly in place, Jarrett’s legacy will continue to live on for years after being inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Rodeo Hall of Fame in October 2010.
“It really means a lot to me,” he said. “Not everybody is inducted into there, so it’s pretty special.”
So is Jarrett.


Cactus Ropes Announces Nitro Sweepstakes Winner

PLEASANTON, Texas—August 29, 2012— When Winn Cox tried out his friend’s Cactus Nitro rope, he had no idea it would result in the opportunity to rope for two days with Cesar de la Cruz.  “I liked that rope so much that I went out and bought some of my own.  One of those ropes happened to have a winning tail tag for the Nitro contest!”

The “Let’s Go Rope with Cesar” contest was created to thank customers who are using the new Nitro rope that Cactus developed in conjunction with Cesar de la Cruz.  Ropes with specially marked tail tags were distributed to retailers, and customers submitted the winning tags to enter a drawing for prizes.

The contest grand prize was the opportunity to rope with Cesar for two days at an upcoming filming and clinic session for Total Team Roping (  Winn Cox, an insurance agent in Seguin, Texas, will get to spend those days learning tips from de la Cruz and the other Total Team Roping members, including Clay O’Brien Cooper and Jake Barnes.  “I’m looking forward to roping with someone with a ‘younger style’ and getting some recommendations from Cesar on improving my technique and making things easier for my heelers,” states Cox. “After I bought my first Nitro, I haven’t used anything else.  I really appreciate that Cactus supports the people who use their products and rope on the weekends.”

Other contest prizes included boxes of Nitro ropes that were won by Isaac Hill of Waxahachie, TX and Garrett Stewart of West Jordan, UT.  For more information on the Nitro and other happenings at Cactus Ropes, please visit

More about Cactus Ropes

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, has been crafting ropes and products for competitive roping and ranch work for more than 20 years.  Visit to view products, locate a retailer or learn more about the world champion athletes who swing a Cactus Rope.


Cactus Ropes Unveils New Website

Cactus Ropes is pleased to announce a brand new website at The site features updated graphics, content and shopping options.

“The new site looks fantastic, but more importantly, it has improved tools and benefits for our fans and customers,” states Jan Johnson, Director of Marketing. “We have incorporated great features like videos on each rope page, an improved dealer locator, and a forthcoming new option that allows instant ropes purchases from our retailers directly through our website portal.”

The new website will serve as a hub for breaking news, educational newsletters and the regular contests offered through the Cactus Ropes social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

More about Cactus Ropes

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, has been crafting ropes and products for competitive roping and ranch work for more than 20 years.  Visit to view products, locate a retailer or learn more about the world champion athletes who swing a Cactus Rope.


Cactus Ropes Introduces the Nitro

PLEASANTON, Texas—April 2, 2012— Cactus Ropes has launched a new rope in conjunction with endorsee Cesar de la Cruz.  The neon green Nitro is available as both a head rope and a heel rope.

Nitro | Cesar de la Cruz | Cactus Ropes: The Official Rope of the PRCA

Nitro | Cesar de la Cruz | Cactus Ropes: The Official Rope of the PRCA

“If I were to sum up this rope, I would say it offers heavy-bodied performance in a small, fast package,” states Barry Berg of Cactus Ropes.  Featuring four blended strands, the Nitro offers increased tip weight for swing and timing, as well as maximum body for accuracy.

Cesar de la Cruz states, “It’s fast and balanced with the action of a rope that’s smaller in diameter, but it has enough body to hold its shape and give me great tip control when I place my loop.”  Regarding the rope’s neon green color, de la Cruz explains, “I’m a big visual guy.  I like to see the steer jump into my loop.  The Nitro practically glows in the dark, so it’s great in all lighting conditions.”

When he joined the Cactus team earlier in 2012, de la Cruz wanted a specific rope to meet his needs.  He began work with Barry Berg to develop and test ropes that matched his vision.  “One of the things I wanted was durability.  I like a rope that will last an entire roping, and more,” states de la Cruz. “Nitro is tough.  It can take more runs because it holds the horn so well.”

Nitro’s performance is already being seen in the team roping arena.  Jake Long was swinging its distinctive green loop when he recently won the YMBL Championship Rodeo in Beaumont, Texas.  The Nitro is now available at your favorite roping retailer.  Additional information can also be found at

More about Cactus Ropes

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, has been crafting ropes and products for competitive roping and ranch work for more than 20 years.  Visit to view products, locate a retailer or learn more about the world champion athletes who swing a Cactus Rope.


Cesar de la Cruz Joins Cactus Ropes

PLEASANTON, Texas—Feb. 22, 2012— Cesar de la Cruz has joined the roster of professional cowboys representing Cactus Ropes, stating “I’m honored to be part of this group, and I’m looking forward to working with the Cactus team on some exciting projects this year.”

Highlights from de la Cruz’s 2011 professional season include wins at the Justin Boots Championships, Pendleton Round-Up, Omak Stampede, Rodeo Austin, Laughlin River Stampede and the Missoula Stampede.  He topped off the competitive season with his sixth qualification at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“Cesar is an awesome addition to our team,” states Barry Berg of Cactus Ropes.  “He’s a great roper and an innovative thinker.   It’s been very refreshing to share ideas with him about ropes that will help our customers perform at higher levels.”

A heeler from Marana, Arizona, de la Cruz is a third generation NFR qualifier, following in the footsteps of his team roping grandfather, Vic Aros.  Cesar is married to Arena de la Cruz, who was the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Women’s All-Around Champion in 2008.  Their son Camilo is two years old.

Cesar de la Cruz, Cactus Ropes: The Official Ropes of the PRCA

Cesar de la Cruz, Cactus Ropes: The Official Ropes of the PRCA: Photo Credit: Lone Wolf Photos

More about Cactus Ropes

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, has been crafting ropes and products for competitive roping and ranch work for more than 20 years.  Visit to view products, locate a retailer or learn more about the world champion athletes who swing a Cactus Rope.


The Science of Cool

If you are a roper, did you know you can have an influence on what tomorrow’s ropes will look like? Designers must anticipate trends, so that a new rope with the latest features will hit stores just when you need it. That’s the science of cool.

Take Cactus Ropes, for example. The Pleasanton, Texas, manufacturer has stayed competitive by keeping ahead of the curve. Production Manager Barry Berg offered a quick glimpse into the process of discovering and creating the next big thing.

Blueprint for Greatness

Rope-making has changed considerably since Cactus Ropes opened its doors more than twenty years ago. According to Berg, it is still evolving, and his team is always on the hunt for fresh ideas.

Cactus Ropes:  The Official Rope of the PRCA | Team Ropes

Cactus Ropes: The Official Rope of the PRCA | Team Ropes

“At Cactus Ropes, we say that great performances begin with great ropes,” he said. “We rely on the talents of experienced rope makers and input from ropers of all levels.”

One of those is the PRCA’s only $4 million cowboy, Trevor Brazile, who helped design this year’s Freedom rope. The Freedom is the first three-strand in Brazile’s Relentless™ collection, which is made by Cactus Ropes.

“After field-testing many products through the years, I realized the best way to get products to meet my needs was to collaborate in their design,” said Brazile, who is involved in developing the prototype for every Relentless product.

In addition, Berg said that sometimes the best inspirations come from average ropers.

“At the end of the day, our goal is to increase the catching percentage of any roper,” he said. “We want to create the perfect rope for every style, at any level.”

Regardless of how an idea reaches Cactus Ropes, the ones that make it to stores go through the same process.

Cactus Ropes:  The Official Rope of the PRCA | Team Ropes | Shock-N-Awe

Cactus Ropes: The Official Rope of the PRCA | Team Ropes | Shock-N-Awe

The first step is to take an idea and design a rope that meets the need. Then, the team builds the first prototype, experimenting and adjusting the formula until it meets precise specifications. Afterwards, staff test ropers put the rope through its paces at their arenas. Passing that, samples are shipped to endorsees for real-world trials.

“When we have a rope style that we think is ready, we have certain professional ropers on call that we’ll send samples to,” said Berg. “We also give them specific instructions on how to break those ropes in. We tell them to catch five steers per rope the first day. Then, we have them let the ropes rest until the next day, and then see how they feel. After that, they can run as many head as they want. But, that first 24 hours is very important.”

While in the test phase, if a rope line doesn’t meet standards, it will be reevaluated. The design may be tweaked and retested, or completely scrapped.

The final assessment, actual sales, is the most important one. It doesn’t matter how well it tested if it no one is using it. That’s the unseen factor manufacturers are searching to find.

Got a great idea?

Help Cactus Ropes find the next cool rope design. Send them your suggestions at or


Cactus Saddlery, Cactus Ropes, Pro Equine Products and Heel-O-Matic introduce new PRCA Branded Collection

Deerfield, Ill.—November 1, 2011—Cactus Saddlery, Cactus Ropes, Pro Equine Products and Heel-O-Matic Training Systems recently announced the debut of their PRCA Branded Collection. The line was developed in conjunction with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and will feature select products that carry the famed organization’s logo.

The companies, which are subsidiaries of the Pro Equine Group, are the designated makers of the Official Saddle, Rope, Equine Sports Product and Roping Training Device of the PRCA.

“We are fully committed to our partnership with PRCA and are proud to incorporate their logo into a select group of products, including equine apparel, practice devices, rope accessories and tack,” states Rebecca Thomas, Senior Marketing Director of the Pro Equine Group. “This line provides a unique opportunity for authorized retailers to share the partnership and gives rodeo enthusiasts another way to connect to this iconic association.”

The PRCA Branded Collection will be available for purchase at select retailers in early 2012.

More about Cactus Ropes, Cactus Saddlery and Pro Equine Products

Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, has been crafting ropes and products for competitive roping and ranch work for more than 20 years.  Visit to view products, locate a retailer or learn more about the world champion athletes who swing a Cactus Rope.

Cactus Saddlery is a premier manufacturer of Western saddles, strap goods and saddle pads. Each quality leather good is hand-crafted by skilled artisans at their Greenville, Texas, location, guided with the expertise of professional rodeo athletes. Visit to preview its entire lineup of merchandise, design a custom saddle or locate a retailer.

Pro Equine Products, also of Pleasanton, Texas, is a top manufacturer of protective horse boots and apparel, all of which are designed and tested by champions in a variety of disciplines. Visit to learn more about the company’s line, watch informational videos, meet the Pro Team members or sign up for promotions and newsletters.

In 2012, Cactus Ropes, Cactus Saddlery and Pro Equine Products will merge to form Cactus Group. Part of the Pro Equine Group family of brands, Cactus Group promises to continue to deliver top-quality products that promote the Western lifestyle.

More about Heel-O-Matic

Heel-O-Matic of Longmont, Colo., is the leading manufacturer of team roping training aids. Heel-O-Matic products are designed to provide perfect practice for every level of team roping competitor and horse trainer, from youth to professional. Not only will a Heel-O-Matic machine help improve a roper’s abilities, but targeted drills on the most life-like machine on the market will also help a roper’s horse.   Heel-O-Matic is the only roping machine with the “Heel-O-Matic Hop,” a patented hopping motion that replicates the actual movements of live cattle in tow.  These machines reproduce unlimited run patterns in any location, providing targeted practice to fit any schedule. For more information, visit


First $4 Million Cowboy Adds New Rope to Arsenal

PLEASANTON, TEXAS—Trevor Brazile, the only $4 million athlete in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) history, and Barry Berg, of Cactus Ropes, have developed a new team rope together—the Freedom 3-strand. The Freedom will be officially launched on July 4.

“The first time I used it, I placed at the Mike Cervi Memorial Roping during Tucson,” said Brazile.

Freedom is a three-strand, nylon poly blend with a small diameter, making it suitable for every level of team roper. It is available in both a head rope (small diameter) and heel rope (medium diameter) and each is offered in Cactus Ropes’ four standard lays.

Freedom is the first three-strand rope in Brazile’s Relentless™ collection. It follows the Xplosion and C4 team ropes, Weapon calf rope and Li’l Pistol youth rope.

“I really wanted my line to have a three-strand rope,” states Brazile. “The pure swing and feel is popular with world-champion-caliber ropers, but at the same time, it’s adaptable enough to be a perfect rope for all levels of ropers.”

In addition to ropes, Brazile’s Relentless collection includes products manufactured by Cactus Ropes’ affiliates: saddles, strap goods and pads from Cactus Saddlery and protective leg gear and blankets from Pro Equine Products.

Join the excitement on Facebook as Cactus Ropes gives away two Freedom ropes each week during June. A unique Trevor Brazile Grand Prize will be awarded on July 4th. Watch the Cactus Ropes Facebook page and for more details.

More about Cactus Ropes
Cactus Ropes of Pleasanton, Texas, produces top-quality ropes used by amateur and professional ropers around the world, whether in rodeo competition, in roping arenas, with practice dummies or on the ranch. These ropes are endorsed by the top PRCA athletes participating in national rodeo events and enjoyed by all who use them, young and old alike.

The Cactus Ropes brand signifies quality roping products that combine traditional rope-making artistry with exclusive innovations that deliver consistency, feel and swingability. All of their products are chosen and scrutinized for quality to provide consumers with only the best ropes, clothing, tack and accessories. With a full line of ropes, including team ropes, calf ropes, ranch ropes and kid ropes, Cactus Ropes has something to offer anyone who enjoys throwing a loop.