Meet the Rodeo Company Rockin’ K Rodeo
story by Siri Stevens Tony Keeton started his company, Rockin’ K Rodeo in 2017. It’s not his only full time job. Tony has worked for […]
story by Lindsay Whelchel
We all know that college is a time for growth and finding your path in life, and that couldn’t be more true for Kentucky cowboy, Austin Joseph, 31. The road he followed just so happened to be the rodeo road.
College, circa 2008, is when Austin discovered bucking horses. “I was riding some colts for a horse trainer here by the house, and I would take colts with me up to college to ride them in between classes, and the rodeo coach up there at Murray, JD, he got wind of that or saw me out there in the practice pen, and he just asked me one day in class, ‘would you want to come to rodeo practice one day and think about maybe getting on bucking horses,’ and I said well I’ll try it,” Austin says and adds, “I got on a couple that first practice and then the third or fourth practice I got on like 14 or something, and [the coach] was just blown away. I went ahead and bought my card and ended up making the college finals the first year, and after that it was history,” he laughs.
He credits his drive to learn and become better with fostering his passion for the sport as he continued. “I don’t know if you would say I’m a perfectionist, but everything I try to do, I try to give it my all and be the best that I could be in it, and that’s what I wanted to do with rodeo.”
It’s clearly a philosophy Austin put to work. He’s qualified multiple times for the International Finals Rodeo, and this year he’s leading the standings in a race for a world title.
“The IPRA, it’s a really tight-knit group of guys, especially after you’ve been in it awhile and been on the road. You see the same people at the same run of rodeos over the course of the summer, and you just get to know everybody and everybody helps everybody out. It’s just a fun atmosphere to be around,” Austin says.
Rodeo has taught Austin a lot about the benefits of hard work. “[Rodeo] has opened my eyes to a lot of things. I’ve always treated rodeo as a business, and it’s definitely been a good financial journey for me. I think it’s good for young people to get into as long as they are cognizant of the reason why they’re doing it,” he says explaining, “Are they doing it to have a financial asset there that can help them in life or are they just doing it for the fame, because if they’re doing it for the fame, I don’t feel like they’re going to have enough drive to tough it out when times get rough whenever they’re on that losing streak. But in saying that, everybody has those lows in their rodeo career, but you’ve always just got to remember why you’re doing it.”
Austin’s affinity for learning when it came to his dedication to rodeo was no different than his dedication to higher education. Austin majored in Ag Systems Technology at Murray and went on to get his Masters in General Ag Science. He now works for a John Deere dealer as a precision agricultural specialist, involved in utilizing satellite imagery to work with agronomists to formulate the best prescriptions for high-yield crops, which he then programs into tractors.
“The good thing about my job is all of my work is done and in the monitors on the tractors whenever the farmers hit the fields, so once that’s done I just give support the rest of the time, so I come back home and help my dad and them at the farm,” Austin explains. And it’s unfortunately been a challenging year at home on the farm for the family. Austin’s dad was diagnosed with cancer this past summer.
“It’s been a pretty tough fall for us. It’s been tough leaving and being away from home right now,” Austin admits of his rodeo schedule. But it no doubt helps to have the support of his family, as they rodeo together. Austin’s wife Taylor is a breakaway roper and barrel racer in the IPRA qualifying for the IFR herself. Their two young children, Kora and Kade go with them to the rodeos.
“Kora is 4, and she just started preschool this year, so that’s changed her a bunch. She’s really come out of her shell, and then Kade is 2. He hangs out with mom all day, and he loves to ride in the tractor. Any chance he gets he’s out here with me usually.”
And the Joseph family all be together when Austin goes for the World Championship this January in Oklahoma City.
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