story by Lindsay Humphrey Unlike many of her peers, 13-year-old Sage Putnam didn’t get her start with horses in rodeo. She did, however, always have […]
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Meet the Member Ty Pope
story by Lily Weinacht
Ty Pope of Garnett, Kansas, is the 2016 KJHSRA Bull Riding and Saddle Bronc Riding Champion. The 14 year old defended the saddle bronc riding title, which he also won in 2015, the same year he won the bareback riding. His winning momentum carried him to third in the nation in bulls and eighth in the saddle bronc riding, his favorite event. “When you get on a good bronc and can get your feet moving, it feels good,” Ty explains. “And it’s fun! I was pretty confident in the bull riding at state finals, and my travelling partner, Weston Patterson, was pretty close to me in the saddle bronc, but I pulled it off, and he won state in the bareback.” Ty capped off his final season in the junior boys division of the NLBRA with a world title as well, this one in the bull riding, while his older brother, Jess, is the National High School Bareback Riding Champion.
“We’re pretty tickled to have two national champions, and very grateful,” says Jennifer Pope, Ty’s mom. She competed in barrel racing before she and her husband, Bret Pope, introduced their sons to the sport. Ty and Jess also have a ten-year-old brother, Judd, who rides steers and bareback ponies. “George Steinberger lives close to us, and he puts on practices every Tuesday,” says Ty. “We’d go over there every week when we were starting and rode sheep and calves. David Berry has also helped us a lot. We started going to his schools in Oklahoma a while back, and he’s someone that will help anybody. He was a bull rider, and now he puts on bullfighting schools and bull ridings.” Moving up to riding saddle bronc horses in high school this fall, Ty also attended Jim Boy Hash’s saddle bronc riding school in Garden City, Kansas. “I got on some good horses there. Some of the saddle bronc steers I’ve gotten on will belly roll and turn back like bulls, but the ones that kick are pretty similar to broncs.”
The Pope family runs cattle, and they used to lease bucking horses and ponies. Ty has two bred to buck bulls that he practices on at the house with the help of his dad and Dakota Truffles, a bullfighter from Flint Hills Technical College, where Bret teaches automotive. “We buck bulls about seven times a month,” says Ty. He’s also spent the summer riding colts for Allen and Janice Whirly. “I bought a horse from them that I trained, and I have another colt that my grandpa gave me. I also have a three-year-old we’re team roping off of right now, but I haven’t started roping off the other two yet.” Ty and Jess use the rest of their time to train their Border Collies. “Our goal is to train them and breed and sell puppies,” Ty explains. “Our dad’s friend has some cattle dogs he’s training too, so we’ve been working together a lot.”
A freshman at Waverly High School this fall, Ty enjoys P.E.. He played football and basketball and ran track in junior high, but is giving up the sports to rodeo since the games will conflict with rodeo weekends. “But I’m pretty alright with it,” says Ty. “After high school I plan to go to some open rodeos and compete in college. I want to try to win state in the saddle bronc riding, and win a National title during one of my years in high school rodeo.”