story by Lindsay Humphrey “Not a lot of people know that I have a step-dad,” said 17-year-old Savannah Wilson from Midland, Texas. “He came into […]
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Meet the Member Brady Fenn
story by Lily Weinacht
Brady Fenn is the 2018 AJRA World Champion Heeler in the 13–15 age division, an accomplishment that even a hospital stay just days before the AJRA finals couldn’t keep him from. “I led the heeling most all of the year, so I worked pretty hard leading up to it,” says Brady, 15. “My dad always says you go trying to win something.” The team roper from Midland, Texas, has type 1 diabetes and spent several days in the hospital before the AJRA finals, but he was determined to see his rookie year to its conclusion. His older sister, Kylee, kept his horse in shape for him, and Brady returned home with two days to practice before heading to Sweetwater and his first world title.
Now entering his second season in the AJRA, Brady is roping with headers Jessi Everett and KC Gail Churchill, and sitting fourth in the heeler standings. “Team roping is the only thing I’ve done, and my dad did it,” Brady explains. “Trying not to get mad at yourself is the most challenging thing. If that happens, you just have to go back and breathe for a minute, and then go at it again.” This season Brady is also experiencing another side of the mental and physical game of rodeo. In January, he and his parents, Jason and Tassa Fenn, traveled to Mexico, where he went through chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant to treat his autoimmune disease and type 1 diabetes. “His immune system will be totally depleted, so he’s not supposed to be around animals for five to six months,” says Tassa. “But the doctors said as long as he gets on his horse, makes his run, and gets off, he can rodeo.” The AJRA and THSRA rodeos don’t start until March, giving Brady extra time to recuperate, while Kylee is keeping Brady’s horse in shape for him. He also plans to spend quality time in his family’s shop with a roping dummy and his favorite Spider rope.
He’s ridden his main heel horse, Bay, for the last year and a half, and also ropes on his dad’s heel horse, Iron Man. “We know each other good enough that I know what he’s going to do every time,” Brady says of Bay. Before taking his break from practice on horseback, Brady roped frequently at Kayden Tinsley’s arena, Tracy Wiest’s arena, or at the Everett’s. He’s eager to rope with them again, as well as Kylee. The brother and sister haul to practices together, and Kylee is breakaway roping and team roping in the AJRA this season as well.
In 2017, the family moved from their ranch in Ada, Oklahoma, to Midland, giving Brady and Kylee the opportunity to take their roping to the competitive side for the first time. “I look up to my dad, and appreciated the help of Hoss Lemons. He’s the one who hauled me everywhere last year, and I roped with his son all last year and roped at their house every day,” Brady adds. He is one of eight children ranging from ages 20 to 3, and all of the siblings who are old enough help with the family’s business. “Our oldest is Matt, then Kylee, Brady, Brooklyn, Josei, Kara, Caleb, and Parley,” says Tassa. “I’m always busy, but it’s been the best rodeo I’ve ever attended.” Brady and all of his siblings are homeschooled, except for Matt, who graduated in 2016 and attends the University of Oklahoma. A freshman, Brady enjoys Algebra, and works hard to finish the majority of his school from home before going to rodeos. Hunting, fishing, and roping goats also helps him pass the time between rodeos. Last year he was also working to qualify for the Junior NFR and at one point was sitting eleventh in the heeler standings. “I want to make it to the Junior NFR this year,” Brady finishes, “and one day make it to the NFR.”