story by Siri Stevens Bella Kate (BK) is no stranger to the rodeo lifestyle. She started competing in her local riding club in Sulphur, Louisiana […]
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Meet the Member Alex Darbonne
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Alex Darbonne is the Reserve World Champion Goat Tyer in the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo.
The Moss Bluff, La. Cowboy, who is thirteen, had a wonderful Finals. Goat tying was his only event in Des Moines, and he clocked his two fastest times ever, in the first and short rounds (9.65 and 9.06, respectively). He came into the short go in seventh place, and after his 9.06 second run, was in first place until the last contestant knocked him into second.
It was the first qualification to the NJHSFR for the soon-to-be eighth grader, and he thinks he did well because there were so many other competitors. “I felt like I had less pressure on me,” he said, “because it was Nationals and there were so many kids that are super-good. I was just trying to make three solid runs, and my head wasn’t getting ahead of me like at regular rodeos, where I feel pressure to do better than the other kids.”
At home-state rodeos, Alex worries about his runs. “At regular rodeos, I was in the back, not talking to anyone, thinking about my run. But at Nationals, I was talking, wasn’t even thinking about my runs at all and it worked out for me.”
In addition to the goat tying, Alex also tie-down and ribbon ropes, and this fall, will add chute dogging and team roping.
For the goat tying, he rides a 14-year-old-gray gelding named Jet. For his roping events, Alex rides Levi, a 20-year-old chestnut gelding.
The trip to Des Moines was one of the Darbonne’s family vacations this summer. Earlier in July, the family went to Ft. Benning, Georgia, to visit brother Andrew, who is in basic training there.
In his spare time, Alex makes neck ropes, horn knots, and braids bracelets, all out of string. He makes a little extra cash at it, selling them at rodeos, and using variety of colors. “Basically, if it’s made out of string, I can make it,” he says. The money he earns goes towards concessions stand food or into savings. It’s better to have it in the bank, Alex says. “If it was in my wallet, I’d be extremely tempted to spend it.” There are so many ways to spend it, he says. “They have so much stuff you can buy.”
Alex looks up to world champion tie-down ropers Shane Hanchey and Tuf Cooper, and it doesn’t hurt that Hanchey lives twenty miles from Alex’s home.
Alex, who is home schooled, wants to be a lawyer or medical doctor and a National Finals Rodeo qualifier in the tie-down when he grows up.
He wore a lucky shirt for all three rounds at Nationals, a red Cinch shirt whose “luck” started at a regular season rodeo. “The very first time I wore it, I got my first tie-down time and won the goat tying, and I knew it was a lucky shirt. I wore it every single time I made a run at state finals.” A ribbon roping calf ripped a sleeve wide open, and the rodeo secretary pinned it back together. Alex wore the red shirt at Nationals, and his mother has informed him that he’ll need to find a new shirt for next year. “Luckily it’s a patterned shirt because his grandma has sewn it back together in several places,” his mom, Kelli said. “Cinch knows how to make them.”
The red shirt was his attire at Nationals, and a fashionable shirt as well. “I think it looks good, too,” Alex said.
Alex’s oldest brother is Chris; Andrew (at basic training) is next, and then Evan is in high school. He has two sisters, Ana and Emma.
He is the son of David and Kelli Darbonne.