Meet the Member Emma Thompson
story by Lindsay Humphrey “I got a really late start in rodeo, I was 13 or 14 when I started going to jackpots and junior […]
story by Lindsay Humphrey
A one-trick pony has never been good enough for Carlee Potter of Latham, Kansas. She’s more interested in the versatile horses. That’s what she learned growing up the daughter of a cattleman. “When we were making the transition from ranch rodeo to regular rodeo, Carlee spent several weeks researching an event put on by the Christian Youth Rodeo Association,” Carlee’s mom, Amy, explained. “She did all the research and was willing to pay the entry fee, so we let her enter. My husband just had an old pickup horse for her to use, but he said if she could get it done on him then she could rodeo.” Carlee’s dad, Chris, and Amy didn’t expect much from the weekend, so they were shocked but proud when she won the average in poles, barrels and breakaway roping. “She was also the all-around cowgirl that weekend. It was the fuel she needed, and she’s never looked back.”
That was the summer before Carlee’s eighth grade year, 2017. Now in her senior season with the KHSRA, Carlee’s stuck with poles and breakaway, but she’s added team roping and reined cow horse to the lineup. Her favorite is the quicker than lightning breakaway roping. Part of her affinity for the event comes from her mount. “Tippee (Tippee Toes) is wider than he is tall; he takes eating seriously,” joked the 18-year-old. “We do everything on him – take him to day work and drag calves, I’ve tied goats on him, little kids can ride him, he’s just a fun horse.” The stout gelding comes with a few quirks, like all good horses do. “He’s scared of everything – bags on the ground, concrete, weird things you don’t expect a horse to be afraid of, but he loves water.” His job, water, Carlee, and cookies, are what keep Tippee motivated.
“He’s definitely in your pocket trying to be your best friend. I always keep treats in my rope can for him. After we’re done roping, he comes looking for his cookie in my rope can.” This year Carlee asked Tippee to step up his game when she started entering him in the reined cow horse event. Prior to state finals, Carlee and Tippee were leading the pack in both of their events. It takes a unique horse and rider combination to excel at both of these events in an association with such stiff competition. Although Carlee didn’t accomplish her goal of winning the saddle in both breakaway roping and reined cow horse at state finals, she did walk away with some hardware. She was the year-end breakaway champion and qualified for nationals in the cow horse event to end the year on a particularly high note.
It could be inferred that Carlee enjoys keeping her parents on their toes. Much like her weekend with the CYRA, Carlee found her way to North Dakota last October to rope in the National High School Badlands Challenge. “My mom was scared that I was going to go up there and waste a bunch of money. I won second in the first round and first in the next round which helped me to take first in the average and pocket $3,500.” Just two months later, Carlee and Tippee were in Vegas when they won second in the average in the breakaway away roping at the Mike and Sherrylynn Johnson’s Vegas’ Tuffest Junior World Championships. It was the first time Carlee had ever done well at that event.
Now a graduate of Dexter High School, Carlee is headed south to Vernon College in Texas. “Going there to rope more than anything. I’m going to rope; education is second.” The KHSRA is unique for the fact that it’s made breakaway ropers learn how to score. That’s uncommon for the event, especially at a high school level. Carlee’s excited to level up her skills as a roper and see what it’s like to nod and go. “I’m ready for it, I’m ready to learn to rope in the fast start and I’m excited for it. After I’m done in Vernon, I’m going to rodeo in the PRCA and try to make the NFR in the breakaway.”
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