2019 World Champion Calf Roper, Haven Meged
Spring 2020 Issue by Cyd Hoefle photos by Jackie Jensens
A Young Man, A Big Dream, A World Title and an Incredible Attitude
Haven Meged remembers roping so late into the night that he and his best friend illuminated the arena with the headlights of three tractors and two trucks. They used a lime green lariat rope so they could see where their loop was heading as they practiced roping young calves.
Yet that’s not his first memory of his love for calf roping. It began when he was around 10, roping newborn calves to be ear tagged. From there he roped the bum calves to feed and doctor them. “Something stuck,” Haven said. “I’ve just always enjoyed roping.”
Haven is the newly titled 2019 World Champion Tie Down Roper which he received in December at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. It’s a dream come true for the Miles City native, who began the year as a rookie traveling for the first time on the rodeo circuit .
Thousands of miles later, he has stacked up title after title, including Rookie of the Year, National Circuit Champion, Pro Tour Champ and NFR Average Champ and finally the most prestigious award, World Champion.
Just how does a cowboy go from rookie to world champion in one year? Haven would say he did it by setting a goal for himself and achieving it one step at a time.
“I’m not from a rodeo family,” he said. “But I love to rope. It became my life. I got serious about roping when I was in the eighth grade. I saved up my 4-H money so I could finally buy a calf-roping horse and through a friend, ended up buying Ty Erickson’s horse.”
It so happened that Ty had decided to sell his calf-roping horse to pursue steer wrestling, making the timing perfect for Haven. Amazingly, over a decade later, the two would share the spotlight as they each earned a world title.
Their mutual friend, Brett Fleming, a titled Montana rodeo calf roper, not only helped Haven find a good roping horse, he also became his mentor. Haven took to his teaching so well that even after Brett moved out of state, Haven would forward videos of himself to Brett, who would offer critiques and advice.
Haven worked hard and pushed himself to excel. A hardworking, humble young man, mature beyond his years, he is self-motivated because, as he says, it’s expected of him.
The first of four children, Haven rose to the expectation of his parents when they purchased the Miles City Stockyards. He was to take more responsibility on the ranch, 20 miles from town.
“I just did what they asked me to do,” he said. “There was no question. We had five to six hundred head of cows and they needed to be fed, doctored and looked after. My parents couldn’t do it all.” The young man was just a teenager when he began managing the ranch, but it instilled in him a work ethic that he has taken on to college and rodeo.
He’s also a hometown favorite. Miles City is proud to be home to the champion. The community hosted a congratulatory party at Christmas time in celebration of Haven’s short but amazing career.
“I love Miles City,” Haven said, “I’ll be back someday to stay.” One of many sponsor patches covering his bright pink shirt is one from the infamous Bucking Horse Sale, an annual event in Miles City. “I’m pretty sure I’m the only guy in rodeo sporting that patch,” Haven said with a laugh.
Haven has a reputation for the intensity of his focus. “I’ve roped a million calves,” he said. “Now it’s more a reaction than anything when I’m backed into the box getting ready to nod.”
Haven packs a lot into a day. In addition to full time rodeoing, he attends college full time, and still finds the time to rope 15 to 20 calves every day. Riding seven to nine horses daily, he not only trains his own horses, but he trains for other ropers as well. He will graduate in May from Tarleton University in Stephenville, Texas with a degree in Ag-industries and Agencies.
“Thankfully I have understanding professors,” Haven said. “They know my rodeo schedule comes first, but I do my darndest to stay caught up and get good grades.”
The spotlight that Haven has been in is something that he doesn’t take lightly. He remembers being at the NFR as a young boy trying his hardest to find Trevor Brazile, a World All-Around Cowboy who holds the record for world champion titles. He tracked him down and had him sign his name on a piece of cardboard. It meant so much to Haven that he still has it.
“I know I’m a role model for kids,” he said. “I want to be someone that they can look up to.”
“I’ll help anybody I can,” he continued, ``any way I can.” He does too, often sharing his horse with fellow ropers or encouraging them with his words. “I believe in chasing your dreams. Never give up and if you want it go for it.”
Though it’s great advice, he almost gave up himself this past summer.
“Over the 4th, I won $800,” he said, “It was tough. I was ready to hang my rope up, but my family encouraged and pushed me and deep down, I knew I couldn’t quit.”
He experienced other setbacks too. Just 24 days before the NFR Haven roped a calf and was about to flank him when the horse took an extra step and hit him from behind. The extra weight landed on his ankle and Haven went down hard. “I tried to get up but I couldn’t move. All I could think was that I wasn’t going to make the NFR. The one thing I’d been dreaming about just died.”
Haven sought treatment for two torn ligaments and suffered a high and low ankle sprain. He was told he’d be out of commission for up to eight weeks.
Ultimately the healing took less than a week. Haven credits his faith and belief in God for the remarkable healing. Under exceptional care, he was back in the saddle, picking up his frantic pace quickly.
The young man is the first Montanan to qualify for the NFR in calf-roping since 1980. He’s one of only four cowboys who have won national collegiate and pro-titles in the same year. He made his first appearance at the NFR and walked away with a world title.
What will the new year hold for Haven? As is the custom with rodeo, it’s a level playing field as the 2020 rodeo season gets underway and he starts all over.
“It’s go hard or go home time for me,” he equipped. “When you back into the box, you just do your job and let things pan out.”