story by Ruth Nicolaus If it’s true that people act like their pets, Cassidi Alverson is a prime example. The Colorado High School Rodeo Association […]
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Meet the Member: Chance Merrill
story by Lily Weinacht
Chance Merrill is the first bronc rider in a long line of tie-down and team ropers in his family. And while the 18 year old from Byers, Colo., is also a talented team roper, it was the frenetic energy of bareback riding that caught his eye. He slipped his hand into a friend’s bareback rigging as a sophomore, and he’s been competing on both ends of the arena ever since.
“I haven’t really had an interest or a passion in anything else but rodeo,” Chance explains. “I like all of it – travel, riding and working and horses – but my favorite thing is the people I get to meet.” While competing in the CSHSRA, CPRA, USTRC, and formerly the NLBRA, he’s had ample opportunities to see new faces, but his inspiration comes largely from home. “I look up to both my parents. My dad ropes and my mom runs barrels and trains horses. I also look up to Kaycee Feild, mostly because he rides picture perfect all the time. It would be really cool to meet him someday.”
Chance is in the middle of his third and final season with the CSHSRA, hoping to bring his senior year to a close with a third qualification to the NHSFR. He qualified in both 2014 and 2015, but was unable to compete last year when he broke his leg at a CPRA rodeo prior to Nationals. “Things are looking really good for me this year, and my goal is to finally win state!” Chance adds. He’s heading for Garett Ludwig this season, and currently working on filling his PRCA permit in the bareback riding, though he hopes to team rope professionally in the future as well.
Chance and his parents, Cord and Amy Merrill, make their home near Byers. Chance has an older brother, Justin, who team ropes and used to ride bulls before he joined the U.S. Navy. They also have a sister, Morgan, who passed away in 2013. She, too, was an avid rodeo competitor. Chance is scarcely at a rodeo without his parents, and they train and raise their own horses, including his head horse, a sorrel mare named Rosie. “She’s a really good, solid horse. I also have a little dun heel horse, Charli, that I completely trained by myself,” Chance describes. “I heel at jackpots and some USTRC events. It’s pretty nice to be able to rope both ends.” Several times a week, he trailers his horses to his friends, the Jameses, who open up their arena for practice. His mini heeler, Dally, is a frequent travelling partner. “It’s pretty handy to go ride and rope over there,” says Chance. “Whenever I can rope with my dad, that’s the best. It’s mainly farmland around here, but we have a creek where we go trail riding.”
Since graduating from Byers High School on May 15th, Chance has been working on a neighbor’s ranch and rodeoing. He plans to take a year off before pursuing college. “I work at the ranch year round – I like sorting and doctoring, and branding is always a fun time.” Chance is also teaching himself leatherwork, and having finished a belt, he’s working on a headstall for his horse. The remainder of his time is spent on the spur board, or running the four mile stretch of creek behind his house.
“My mom mainly trains horses for the family right now, but since I’ve graduated, we plan on doing more,” Chance finishes. “My goal is to make the NFR, and then make really awesome rope horses.”