story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’m not much of a planner,” said Ryan Bestol of his storied rodeo career so far. “When I get something in […]
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Meet the Member: Chip Wilson
story by Lily Weinacht
Chip Wilson has been calling Arthur, Neb., his home base on the rodeo trail since he was a child. He’s the third generation of his family to back into the roping box, and today, the 28-year-old tie-down roper competes in the NSRA, M-SRA, and KPRA. Chip has held his card with the NSRA for nearly ten years and made it to the finals six times, winning the average in 2013 and 2014. His most recent accomplishment was qualifying for The American Semi Finals this spring. “I didn’t advance, but it was sure exciting – it was a new deal for me being on that big of a stage!” says Chip.
He grew into rodeo at the same rate he grew out of his cowboy boots, and though he also team roped through high school, it was tie-down roping that Chip took to the college level. He rodeoed for two years with Garden City Community College while also competing in the NSRA. His granddad, Duane Wilson, won the year-end team roping during the association’s early years, and Chip names both him and his dad, Kelly Wilson, as his inspiration. “They’ve helped me a lot, and so has my uncle, Brad Wilson. They competed in a lot of ranch rodeos when I was growing up, and my uncle still team ropes. My dad doesn’t compete anymore, but we go out to his place to practice and he’ll run the chutes and ropes with us. I want to thank them and the rest of my family for giving me the opportunity to rodeo.”
When it comes to his drive to rodeo, Chip sums it up easily. “It’s just a lot of fun! I rodeo with my wife now – she breakaway ropes – and that’s a lot of fun going with her. We have a friend, Cody Larson, who ropes calves, and we all three travel together.” Chip met his wife, Makenzie, at a wedding reception and discovered they not only had a mutual friend, but a mutual passion for rodeo. They now work together on the Wilson family ranch and rodeo on weekends. “I’ve lived in Arthur my whole life – it’s a little bitty town,” Chip describes. “We live about four miles out of town, and I like being able to ranch and be a cowboy and use my cowdogs. Most everyone out here lives the same way.”
Chip and Makenzie work with their dogs daily on the ranch, which include Wes, Key, Jode, and Idgie. “A lot of the training comes natural to them, but you have to get them down, in control, and in the right place,” Chip explains. “In our free time, we mainly enjoy working with them and roping.” His main rope horse, Mouse, was tragically hit by lightning two years ago, and since then, Chip has been riding Bay, a ten-year-old gelding raised by Chip’s family. Currently, his main rope horse is a gelding named Thursday, whom Chip bought from Ray Brown. Chip also uses the horses for ranching, where they’ve recently finished calving, along with the daily feeding, fencing, and spring sorting and haying.
When Chip can hang up his work gloves for the day, he’s out in the roping pen with Makenzie. “We always have roping calves – some we’ve raised and others we’ve bought – and we normally take turns running the chute for each other. My dad also comes out and helps,” says Chip. “My favorite rodeo I’ve always had good luck at is my hometown rodeo in Arthur – it’s by far the one I look forward to the most. I mainly want to get better at all aspects of rodeoing,” he finishes, “and it’s been a goal for a long time to win the NSRA finals.”