story by Michele Toberer At 13 years old, Lane Leeper has already marked earning world champion titles off of his bucket list. The Leon, Iowa […]
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Meet the Association with Mike Latting
story by Siri Stevens
The IMRA is in full swing, with Mike Latting and Keith Wooten, Wooten Rodeo Company from Glen Allen, Missouri, at the helm. “Our goal is to allow kids to be successful in rodeo,” said Mike, a former bareback and bull rider from Chicago, Illinois. “Rodeo gave me – coming from Chicago – another set of glasses to look at the world through. It allowed me to travel and meet people that I hold dear today. It allowed me to expand from my 5’4” to ride bareback horses and have some success at it.”
With more than 46 rodeos scheduled for this year, the association is filling a need to further educate and train the next generation of rough stock riders and barrel racers. “There’s no surprise to anyone there’s a shortage of horse riders,” he said. Mike competed in the International Finals Rodeo in 1980-1982, and went to college in Casper, Wyoming, competing in bareback and bull riding, winning the region in 1973 and 1974. He continued his education and became a principal. “We are trying to educate the youth to help them feel successful.” Part of that success is carefully selecting cowboy friendly stock. “You need to make it fun for them and give them that sense of winning. In doing that, we decided to put this association together to make sure we can get kids started that way.”
“We spend a lot of time and effort to make sure the animals these kids are getting on fit the criteria we are looking for.” With 14 stock contractors on board, there is a wide selection of stock to pick from. “as 46 rodeos that kids can go to to qualify for the Finals, to be held January 17 and 18
Mike is a retired middle school principal, leading a school of 1,000, and he could have easily sat back to enjoy that role. “Nothing has ever been accomplished by sitting around,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with kids my entire life –I’m from Chicago and my life has been getting the best out of kids that maybe thought they weren’t going to make it. To be able to offer this opportunity to kids from all over the United States is exciting –we’re even talking to a stock contractor from Alaska.”
IMRA offers bareback riding, bronc riding, bull riding, and barrel racing. There are four different age divisions for each event. “We’re going to have miniature bareback and bull riding at several IPRA rodeos this year.” Last year was very successful for the group. “The kids had a great time and were able to compete and feel good about it. The parents were excited. It went well.”
Mike is from St. Anne, Illinois, and has been there all 40 years. His background in education makes this a perfect fit for him. “Kids, given the opportunity and direction, there’s nothing in the world they can’t accomplish. For most kids, they’ve never had the right mentoring or opportunity.” He retired less than a year ago, and has made this his next goal. “That’s my MO, that’s just Mike.”
I see this being a feeder system to rodeo all over the country.
Finals are on January 17 and 18.