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Meet the Member Coleman Shallbetter
story by Ruth Nicolaus
The armrests on the chairs at the Shallbetter home near Gunnison, Colo., are in bad shape, and it’s Coleman Shallbetter’s fault.
As a toddler, the now 18 year-old cowboy, a member of the Colorado High School Rodeo Association, dreamed of riding broncs and rode the armrests till they were nearly worn out, his mom Stephanie said.
“He’d spur and yell ‘buck off,’ fly through the air, crash on the ground, and do it over and over again,” she said.
And he’s still obsessed with bronc riding.
He’s spent the last few months in Weatherford, Texas, riding broncs in PRCA and United Pro Rodeo Association events, to gain experience. As a senior in high school, he’s finishing his schoolwork online.
He chose Weatherford because it is a central location for rodeo, and because he has a good friend and family members living there. He worked, off and on, while there, to pay bills, but made sure he got on plenty of broncs.
When calving season came around this spring, Coleman was back to the ranch in Gunnison, helping out. He also likes to ride young horses for himself, his dad, and other people.
For fun, he hunts and fishes and does some leatherwork as well, making bronc riding chaps and building saddles. He learned the leatherwork through a cowboy who worked on the ranch when Coleman was younger.
His dad, Todd, was a saddle bronc rider in high school and college, so he learned a lot from his dad and other cowboys on the Shallbetter ranch and neighboring ranches.
He’s attended some bronc riding clinics, including a Cervi school and an Etbauer school.
Coleman plans on continuing to rodeo this fall; he won’t attend college, even though he’s had some rodeo scholarship offers. “I just don’t think college is so much for me,” he said.
He’s enjoyed the lack of snow in Weatherford and got to experience an ice storm and a few tornados. In Weatherford, the gym is closer to his house than it is in Gunnison, and there are no mountain passes to cross to get anywhere.
As for favorites, he loves his mom’s chicken fried steak with gravy and her apple pie. His favorite beverage is water, and his favorite place to travel was from the ranch in British Columbia, where the family used to live, to the ranch in Colorado, where they presently are, when he and his dad took care of cattle on both places. “I got to see a lot of country,” he said.
If he were given $1 million, he’d spend it on a ranch in Colorado, Arizona or Texas, and buy some nice horses. In ten years, he sees himself competing professionally with a ranch, a herd of cows, and some horses.
His parents love their son’s focus. “He has a one-track mind,” his mom said. “He is a student of bronc riding. He’s constantly watching videos of himself and other riders, analyzing every move.”
He is very helpful around the ranch, too. “He’s a super gifted mechanic and welder and we rely on those skills heavily on the ranch.”
Before the spring season started, Coleman was ranked third in the state. He’s made the state finals the last two years, finishing as reserve champion both years. At the 2021 National High School Finals Rodeo, he finished ninth in the world standings. At Nationals last year, it didn’t go as well; he bucked off both of his horses.
His mom loves his personality.
“He’s an amazing and interesting human to be around, a really cool person.”
Coleman has an older sister, Sterling, who is 20. He is sponsored by Turquoise Junction and Gun Room in Gunnison.