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Meet the Member Aspen Autry
story by Michele Toberer
Colorado Junior High Rodeo Association member, Aspen Autry, has four generations before her that have set the example of rodeo and the cowboy lifestyle. Her mom, Crystal, came from a strong ranching background, and her dad, J.J., came from a line of ranchers that made their mark in the rodeo world as calf ropers, steer wrestlers, and steer ropers. Aspen is ready to take all that she learned as a sixth-grade rookie in the CSJHRA and accomplish even more in her second season with the association.
Aspen’s dad competed in high school, college and open rodeos across Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico, in calf roping, team roping, and steer wrestling; and his dad, Joe Bob Autry, and Joe’s father, Grandpa Bub, both rodeoed hard in the PRCA as steer wrestlers and ropers. On J.J.’s mom’s side of the family, J.J.’s Great-Grandpa Like and great uncles competed in saddlebronc riding, with Mack Like winning at Madison Square Gardens several decades ago, creating the start of what has become a 5th generation of rodeo stars. She, and her fifteen-year-old brother, Joe Cash Autry, are grateful and proud to be carrying on the rodeo tradition in their family today. Joe Cash, the 2019 CSJHRA Champion Team Roper, will move on to the high school ranks this season. Aspen has found the most success in barrel racing and was the 2019 CSJHRA Champion Barrel Racer; but also competes in breakaway roping, and goat tying, and she was the third-place pole bender and ribbon roping runner, partnered with her brother. “I get to hear a lot of stories, and I really like to listen to all the stories about rodeo and how much my family has been involved in it.”
Aspen attends Kim School, where they have elementary, junior high, and high school classes all in the same building. Her favorite subjects are gym and social studies, and besides classes she plays volleyball, basketball, and runs track. At 12 years-old, the Colorado cowgirl has already won 12 saddles, and earned the prestigious champion barrel racing title at the 2018 Junior NFR in Las Vegas, Nevada. She plans to qualify for the event again, and hopes to take Jag, her 18-year-old sorrel gelding with a blaze face and four white stockings, to try for a repeat in Vegas this December. She has also qualified for the American semi-finals in 2018 and 2019, and the Junior American in 2019. She rides Jag in barrels and poles and has had the gelding since he was 6 years old. “He’s normally relaxed and likes to eat, but when you warm him up and show him a pen, he gets so excited and I can feel his heart beating. He loves it as much as I do. He likes peppermint treats, and he loves EquiPride, a probiotic powder I add to his grain that’s his favorite treat.”
At the National Junior High Finals in Huron, South Dakota, Aspen and Jag qualified for the short round in 18th place after fighting through tough weather conditions in her first performance. “We were a 17.3 on Sunday night, with a really wet, muddy pen, but our second go the ground was much better and we were a 15.9.” In the short-go they ran a 15.7, which was one of the top 3 times, and helped them finish 7th place in the world finals. The Autry’s were proud to come back to Colorado with two Top 10 in the World finishers, after Joe Cash finished 9th in boys breakaway roping.
Aspen’s mom is an enrollment coordinator for American Fidelity Assurance Company and her dad is the Southeastern Colorado project director for the Nature Conservancy. They manage the JE Canyon Ranch, and Aspen loves helping with ranch and cattle work there. “I like to help with gathering and doctoring and branding the cattle.”
Aspen enjoys the competition in CSJHRA, but especially likes visiting with friends at the rodeo. She’s thankful to her parents for all of the help and support they give her with rodeo, as well as her grandparents, Joe and Robin Autry, and John and Bev Ming, who always cheer her on. Aspen is also grateful to her sponsor, EquiPride.