story by BreAnne Benson Muldrow, Oklahoma, is home to the talented cowgirl, Hazlee Mckenzie. The 16-year-old junior is a standout member of the Oklahoma High […]
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Meet the Member Drayton Aldridge
story by Lindsay Humphrey
“I high school rodeo more for the memories; have some good times with buddies and get out of town for a weekend,” said OHSRA senior header Drayton Aldridge from Carter, Oklahoma. “This is my first year in Oklahoma high school because I competed in Texas my junior year. I had a bunch of friends who wanted me to compete in Oklahoma, so I made the switch this year.” Out of ten regions in the entire state of Texas, Drayton and his cousin, Cayden Smith, managed to be in the top fifteen to rope at state finals and take a shot at nationals. They were sitting second going into the short round, but a quick-footed steer blew past Drayton, and their season was over in a flash.
Short round pressure isn’t new for Drayton who’s been jackpotting far longer than he’s been hauling to rodeos. Growing up on a ranch means roping and riding are just part of the average workday. Drayton uses team roping as a means to train horses. “We’ve always done everything on horses at the ranch. My dad and uncle built a roping arena at the house a few years ago, so we all started roping again.” Never one to back down from a cold-backed colt, Drayton rode ranch broncs, and some bulls, for a few years at open rodeos. “My whole life I’ve grown up riding bucking horses – colts – and trained horses, so I thought it [ranch bronc] would be fun to do. I liked it, but I started team roping more. It’s a better fit for me so I can train horses while I compete.”
Doing anything other than ranch and rodeo has never really crossed Drayton’s mind. He enjoys being around the livestock and the training aspect of it. It’s all he knows because it’s what he’s grown up around and he likes it that way. “My dad got me started ropin’ out in the pasture with the sicks caves and then he helped me on the dummy a lot too. He’s probably helped me the most, but a lot of family and friends have always been around too.” His dad, Brandon, works in the oilfield and comes to as many rodeos as he can. He’s one of Drayton’s biggest fans along with his mom, Brandy, and stepmom, Shannon, who almost never miss a rodeo. And out of Drayton’s siblings – one sister and three step-brothers – he’s the only one who rodeos.
At 18, Drayton is about as independent as they come. He chose to be homeschooled his senior year so he could travel for roping and work at home on the ranch more. He’s responsible for 200 cow calf pairs spread across 1,000 acres. Somedays, it’s more than a full-time job. “I’d rather grow up in this [ranching and rodeo], I feel like it helps you out a lot more the older you get. It teaches you how to be a hard worker from a young age and you get to do things that city kids would never even get to try.” After Drayton graduates in May, he’s going to keep on doing what he is currently doing without the hassle of schoolwork. “I’m going to train horses and work around here [Carter] for a little bit. And then go to as many jackpots as I can.”
In the OHSRA, Drayton heads for Dace Drake. It’s rare that you’ll find Drayton on the backend of the team, but he can switch ends when he needs to. He’s competing on a home-made team roping horse that’s finished on both ends just in case. “We bought him [Eddy] as a 5-year-old and he had some cutting training on him. He was started on the heel side, but then I finished him on both sides. He was pretty easy to train because he’s really intelligent and I could tell he wanted to learn.” The now 8-year-old moves across the pen doggin’ a steer as smooth as the rest of them. Drayton’s optimistic that Eddy is the horse that will help him get to his first, and last, high school nationals.