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Meet the Member Brooke Bruner
story by Darlene Craven
Tragedy can either break us or make us. In Brooke Bruner’s case, it’s made her. While rounding the first barrel on a run in Burlington, Colorado during her fifth-grade year, Brooke’s horse went down and broke its leg in four places. “It was a tough lesson to learn at eleven, but my horse took care of me and I kept going,” she remembers. And keep going she has. Powering through this “huge, sad moment” in her life, Brooke has piled up the rodeo prizes, including buckles, two saddles and thousands of dollars.
Brooke started rodeoing when she was eight, running barrels, poles, goat tying and flag racing. Her love of all things equine grew out of being allowed to take care of a neighbor’s horses. It’s a good thing, since she’s a country kid, living with her parents outside of Parker, Colorado, on a place that is home to seven horses, four cats, a Rottweiler named Tinkerbell, along with six head of roping cattle and three goats. Among the humans on the place are Barry, her dad who works as a financial adviser, her stepmother Jody, who works in the oil and gas business, sister Charli and stepbrother Kevin. Horses and rodeo are in Brooke’s genes. Mom Mary’s family raced horses in Iowa and her dad rodeoed in South Dakota for 4-H. Brooke’s days are full with chores, practicing and homework. Writing is one of her favorite downtime activities and she’s currently working on a persuasive essay about why she needs another horse.
Attending Cherry Creek Academy, the recently turned 14-year-old is an honor student who loves learning about the past in history class and has set her sights on becoming a veterinarian. “Sometimes I like animals better than people,” is her justification. Outside the rodeo arena, Brooke plays volleyball, travels with her family (Alaska is a favorite) and hunts. Last year’s trip earned Brooke her first buck and she was hooked. “I like the excitement of watching and stalking the deer, waiting for the right moment.”
As a self-proclaimed “collector of horses,” Brooke has a favorite – George the barrel horse. Though Dollar, the very bendy pole horse holds a special place in her heart because she has posted twenty and 21-second times on him. Regardless of the event, her horses “run their hearts out” for her and she keeps them in top condition at local jackpots. Team roping is something the ambitious teenager wants to master because it represents working together, an element she loves about the rodeo community. “Even though we’re all competitors, we put the competition aside to help one another.”
Brooke’s dad, Barry, is her most ardent supporter, biggest fan and “the best coach in the world.” As Brooke puts it, “Every set back is a set up for a come back.” Barry gave her that bit of advice to rally her after a bad run to help her learn that not everything goes right every day. Brooke has benefited from having an arena in the back yard and a coach-dad who encourages her through the rough patches. Learning the difference of how it feels when it’s done right and when it is not has been key to strengthening Brooke’s mental game. Keeping her mindset positive and practicing how to do it right after it goes wrong has given Brooke an essential edge to her competitive mindset. And it’s made a difference. She’s posted breakaway roping wins in Evergreen, Grand Junction and Black Forest. Currently, Brooke is ranked third overall in the in the Colorado Junior High Rodeo Association standings, holding second in pole bending, second in breakaway roping and third in goat tying.
Brooke will start competing in high school rodeos next year where the competition is fierce. That doesn’t stop her from setting the bar high. She wants to make it to nationals in her freshman year and earn rookie of the year at state. Given the lessons she has learned and her drive, Brooke will continue to make her mark in the rodeo arena.