story by Michele Toberer Dawson and Jessica McMaster have “McMastered” their respective events and are sitting at the top in the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association […]
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Meet the Member Del Rey Welsh
by Shiley Blackwell
Twenty-year-old Del Rey Welsh of Meade, Kansas may only have six years of competitive rodeo experience under his belt, but he doesn’t let that hinder him in the rough stock pen. “The way I grew up, you finish what you start and you always try your best,” he comments. His efforts during his first year of competing in ranch bronc riding led him to win the 2017 Kansas Pro Rodeo Association Championship. “My drive is my friends, family, just the rodeo atmosphere and that craving to get on rank horses and make a ride,” Del Rey says.
That drive comes naturally to Del Rey, as the western lifestyle runs deep in his family. “When I was young, my dad managed Meade Feeders and I started working for him when I was real little. I rode horses my entire life… We were pretty into the rodeo lifestyle but didn’t have enough time to compete.” But when he was 14, opportunity knocked and he was able to start team roping in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association.
He continued to rope, as well as play football during his high school career. After graduating, Del Rey missed the adrenaline rush from football. The solution? Bucking horses. “I’ve always been the one in the family to put rides on the younger horses… My sisters always wanted some high-power barrel horses, and I was the one to put rides on them,” he chuckles. Del Rey currently works as a hand for RK Cattle Company and was initially drawn to ranch bronc riding because “it’s the old western way.” “That’s who I want to be. The ranch bronc is supposed to represent the old way—in a stock saddle, the saddle you work in every day.”
This is Del Rey’s second year competing in ranch bronc riding in the KPRA, and he appreciates the quality of the competition. “The level that the people hold it to is great. There’s a lot of really good bronc riders and great hands who go to the KPRA rodeos. At my age I feel honored to go there and compete with those guys. It’s just fun. I’m going to try to win another championship this year—be a back-to-back champ. I also want to get a little savvier on the team roping side and become more of a hand.”
“The Lord, being number one, has helped me the most. Secondly my father because he motivates me to become as successful as I can. That is what has driven me to stay as dedicated as I have in rodeo these past years. Cory Wilson of the Ride Tough Rodeo Ministry has helped me become stronger mentally throughout this past year, as well.”
When Del Rey is not working at RK Cattle Company or on the rodeo road, you can find him sharpening his leather working skills—one of his favorite side hobbies. “My mom works at a leather shop in Meade, Rusty Nail Boot & Saddle Repair Shop, and I’ll go tool leather with her,” he says.
He also attends Oklahoma Panhandle State University, where he’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree in animal science with plans to go into farm and ranch management. His goal is to eventually own his own ranch and have a leather and boot shop on the side. “I want to use the character-building skills I’ve acquired in bronc riding and let them influence me in other parts of my life. There will come a point where I’ll have to stop riding broncs. I’m going to do it as long as I can, but I want to make sure I get something more out of it, and allow it to build me into the man I want to be someday.”