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Meet the Member Cactus Barnes
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Cactus Barnes’ life can be summed up pretty simply: rodeo, showing steers, shooting guns, and moving cows.
And it’s not a bad life for the Colorado Junior High School Rodeo Association member.
The fourteen-year-old, who lives near Maybell, Colorado, competes in the tie-down roping, team roping (heading for Stran Lechman), ribbon roping (roping for Jaycee Yonkers) and chute dogging.
His best event is the tie-down, and for it, he rides a mare named Chain Lady, who was his brother’s horse that was handed down to him. She’s the best horse he’s ever roped calves on, and “she’s my go-to horse,” he said.
For the heading, he rides a dun that’s a recent purchase, named Dunnie or often called G-Rod, after its former owner.
For the goat tying, he rides a gray horse named Gray. Between Cactus, his dad, and his brothers, they put the training on him. Gray is the one Cactus rides when moving cattle.
An eighth grader at Craig Middle School, he is not crazy about attending school. For him, the best part of the school day is “when I get home. I don’t like school that much, and by the time I get home, it’s dark and I can’t do anything” outside. Right now, due to COVID-19, Craig Middle School holds two days of in-person learning a week and three days online. Cactus prefers the online days because he can get his work done a lot faster than sitting in school.
In school, his best subjects are math and history. Math is hard, but he’s good at it. He does not like science, however: “it’s just a lot of complicated stuff.”
Cactus has shown steers in 4-H the last several years. In 2020, his Angus steer sold for the most he’s ever had an animal bring: $10,000. The steer finished fourth in his class and in the top five in the carcass contest. After he pays for grain, hay and expenses for the steer, the rest of the money is used to buy horses or tack. “You always need more tack,” he laughs.
In his spare time, Cactus loves making knives. He makes them out of horse rasps or old car springs. He enjoys it, and it’s an extension of his creativity, too. He keeps some and gives some away to family and friends.
Cactus’ favorite food is grilled steak, with sweet potatoes on the side. He loves his grandma’s peach cobbler; in fact, he loves nearly everything his grandma cooks and bakes.
After high school, he would like to be a helicopter pilot and make Flight for Life runs. He’s considering college at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely; they have an excellent helicopter flight program and a rodeo team as well.
As of press time, Cactus sits in the top five in all but one of his events; in the team roping, he and Stran are seventh in the state.
Cactus has two older brothers: Casey, who is 26, and Cutter, who is 22.
He is the son of Bruce and Joyce Barnes.