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Meet the Member Ace Reese
story by Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns
Long range planning is a proven adjunct to success. Twelve-year-old Ace Reese, his brother Denton, mom Codi Seeley Reese and dad Carey Reese, moved in July 2018 from Lone Tree Ranch southwest of Upton, Wyoming, to their present home near Aquilla, Texas, just southwest of Hillsboro. The family horses went along, as well as an avid affinity for rodeo.
Ace, a devout calf roper, soon noticed all the top ropers he knew were prepping for Las Vegas ’18. That set the roping bug to chewin’ real hard on the 12-year-old, 7-year rodeo veteran! He just decided it was his turn, and determined right then to qualify for competition and join the elite in Vegas during the 2019 NFR week!
Berths in such rich, prestigious events are scarce. Last spring Ace and his ’07 bay AQHA mare Modocs Smoken Babe (aka ‘Popcorn’) tackled their goal with a vengeance. Tuf Cooper’s Junior World Calf Roping Championship accepts only 25 qualifiers for each event, so they entered the 12-and-under tiedown qualifier at the Vernon West Memorial Roping, May 12 in Sweetwater, TX. They coolly, professionally clocked 36.8 on three for the Championship; punching their ticket into Cooper’s December 9-14, 2019 event! One goal reached….
Ace made another trip to Vegas last week and came home with two titles. He won Tuf Cooper’s Junior Loopers Championship as well as Champion tie down roper for the 12 and under in the Junior World Finals. Ace was awarded beautiful trophy buckles for the Junior World Championship and Tuff Cooper’s Junior World Finals. He also brought home over $13,000 in prize money.
Popcorn and Ace rocked their program to be fit and tuned when they rode into Bryan, Texas, August 8 for the Generation Next Calf Roping, produced by Laurence McCullough and sanctioned by Mike and Sherrilynn Johnson as a qualifier for Vegas’ Tuffest Junior World Championship December 5-8. Four head cleanly trussed in 47.46 clinched Ace and Popcorn a berth among 40–60 qualifiers there; completing another goal.
Linking those two exciting competitions, Ace kept in shape but gave his top mount a break. He stepped on Tuxedos Lady Doc (the awesome ’96 AQHA mare that helped Riley Pruitt win his first saddle) to rope in Roy Cooper’s Junior Calf Roping Championship at Decatur, Texas the 4th of July. Ace flawlessly flew through four head in 42.2 to win the event, plus claim the distinction of winning his first saddle – on the same horse Riley Pruitt rode to win his first one!
Wherever Ace’s horse is, he’s at home. Mom Codi says, “The two have matured into a beautiful relationship . . . and Tuxedos Lady Doc is another special mare with regional roots he’s been privileged to ride.”
Fans may wonder, “Where’d this young roping whirlwind come from?”
He’s Wyoming ranch bred, with a heavy infusion of cowboy and cowgirl on both sides of his pedigree. Ranching and rodeo are Ace’s first love – plus, “I enjoy throwin’ a football with my brother, and we shoot quite a little . . . some targets, and sometimes hunting.”
Ace’s idol is Troy Pruitt. He’s also “read Fred Whitfield’s book”, and says that’s who he’d pick to spend a day with if he could. Truth is, either cowboy would have to hustle to steal any of Ace’s time away from Popcorn, “my horse”. She centers his life. If he had any free time he’d “Prob’ly ride my horse, and rope the dummy.” In light of one of Ace’s life goals, “to win 8 gold buckles”, those are optimal pursuits.
Ace comes from a working ranch lifestyle, always helping with anything that needed to be done. He enjoyed feeding bum calves, and “maybe cleaning stalls” is least favored. If there’s time for TV Ace says, “There’s this tape of the 2003 NFR . . . that’s my favorite.” While further analyzing the finer points of that arena action, he’d be happy downing “an A1 from Whataburger”.
Homeschooling was perfect for Ace’s remote Wyoming ranch home, and his family enjoys the freedom to travel and rodeo. The 7th grader – turning 13 November 16th – especially enjoys history. He acquired rodeo skills and arena experience competing in the Belle Jackpot Association, Sturgis Youth Rodeo Series, Northern Hills and Badlands Little Britches Rodeos, Wyoming Junior Rodeo Association and American Junior Rodeo Association events. The cowboy’s first event, at 5, was breakaway roping; he says, “I added goat tying when I was 6.”
The 2019 American Junior Rodeo Association (AJRA) Finals at Sweetwater, Texas in July offered Ace and Popcorn another place to excel this year. They earned the reserve champion berth in Ribbon Roping, Breakaway and Double Mugging, plus 3rd in Tiedown, on their way to claiming Reserve Champion All Around.
Ace knows he’s well-mounted, whatever arena he enters. “I’m so grateful that Dane Kissack gave me the opportunity to buy Popcorn three years ago,” he declares. “I really want to thank him!”
That appreciation is sincere, and widespread. “I want to thank my grandparents Rick & Colleen Popham and Lenard &Teresa Seeley; plus Don and Ed Eddleman, Troy Pruitt and Chase Williams,” Ace emphasizes.