story by Lindsay Humphrey “This season has been heartbreaking; we were all looking forward to our last hoorah of our junior high years. But it […]
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Meet the Member Braxton McKinley
story by Lindsay King
Braxton McKinley grew up watching ropers from the sidelines until he decided to join in on the fun. “My whole family has roped forever and I just like that I get to follow in their footsteps. My dad (JD) used to have roping clinics at the house and I always liked watching them until I got to jump in there and I fell in love with it,” said the 13-year-old about tie-down roping. Anything that moves, Braxton has attempted to rope. For now, he sticks with his five rodeo events: breakaway and tie-down roping, team roping, goat tying and ribbon roping.
Roping calves is Braxton’s favorite, but jumping off to tie one down is at the top of his list. It’s the event his dad competed in the most. “I have a really good horse that stops big and it feels like a roller coaster when he’s stopping hard. It’s a lot of fun.” As the son of a professional roper, Braxton has some high expectations to meet. “My dad is supportive and he’s always there when I need him. His high standards make me a better roper.” Kyle Dutton, a family friend, lives right down the road from Braxton and has contributed to his success in the calf roping as well. “Kyle is both a really good calf roper and a great horseman. I have learned a lot from him.”
Not only does Braxton look up to his dad, he’s also following in the footsteps of his older sister, Peyton, 20. “She works really hard every day with her horses. She’s been a very successful roper. She won nationals in the ribbon roping one year.” Braxton had his shot at a national title this past summer in the breakaway roping and goat tying. It was his first trip to the biggest stage in junior high rodeo where he wasn’t just a spectator for his sister. “I didn’t do any good up there, but it was a lot of fun and I learned some new things.” Braxton took fourth place in both events at the NMJHSRA state finals to qualify for junior high nationals.
Knowing that rodeo is won and lost because of consistency, that’s his main focus for the 2020 season. He’s set lofty goals of making it to nationals in all five of his events this year. “Rodeo is not an easy sport, it takes a lot of practice. I’m working on becoming a better horseman so I can accomplish my goals this year.” Braxton has seen his fair share of both success and failure. The latter leaving the most lasting impression. “When things don’t work out I go back to the drawing board. I think about what I could have done better and then go do it. It’s not quite as simple as it sounds though.” Learning how to calm his nerves and refocus his excited energy helped Braxton win the average in the team roping at state finals last year. “I’ve had a hard time in team roping, just getting with a new horse and trying to figure it out so to finally do some good was really helpful.”
This Picacho Middle School seventh grader aspires to become a mechanical engineer one day. “I just like to build stuff and it sounds like a good job.” It probably doesn’t hurt that math comes naturally for Braxton. “As a little kid Braxton played with Legos and Lincoln logs all the time. He’s a numbers kid, so math has always come easily for him,” said Braxton’s mom, Brandy. As Braxton looks to the future, he plans to rodeo in college where he hopes “to do some good and become a role model for someone” just as he’s had gotten to grow up with his.