story by Lindsay Humphrey Just when Monte Faulkner was getting into the groove of steer saddle bronc riding, COVID-19 canceled his final season in the […]
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Meet the Member Gunnar Tipton
story by Lindsay Humphrey
“I was born carrying a rope.” It’s a bold statement from 14-year-old Gunnar Tipton who’s been roping calves and heels competitively since he was just 8 years old. “I have loved roping ever since I started,” said the soon-to-be high school freshman. There’s one roping memory that will stick with Gunnar for the rest of his life. “I was riding one of my uncle’s old horses at a little rodeo series in Portales. I roped the calf all the way at the back of the pen and had to run to the other end with the ribbon from his tail.” That was the first time Gunnar roped a calf at an event. “It’s a fond memory because that horse is probably the first one I ever really rode and the ground was really deep. I had to run all the way across the arena in it.”
There are only a couple people other than Gunnar’s parents (Ty and April) who helped plant and are now watering the rodeo seed. His grandparents on both sides of the family have been avid supporters for Gunnar. Many of his grandparents and uncles rodeoed also. When Gunnar first got into rodeo, his parents weren’t quite ready to jump in with both feet, they wanted to make sure he was going to stick with the sport first. “We didn’t have an arena at first, or a lot of animals. When I really got into it, then we went all in.” Outside of paying entry fees and hauling Gunnar and his stock, his parents also built him an arena to practice in.
While in junior high, Gunnar’s parents encouraged him to play multiple sports at Dora Consolidated Schools. It helped keep Gunnar in shape for his favorite sport: rodeo. “It was really busy balancing rodeo and sports. When there was a tournament on the weekend, I had to sacrifice one so I could go to the other.” It’s safe to presume, Gunnar almost always chose rodeo. The sacrifice paid off last year when Gunnar earned the right to compete at the national finals for the first time. “Coming into state finals I was in seventh and worked my way up to fourth. It was cool to see that country and how many people packed the stands to cheer. It was pretty loud.”
Coming into nationals, Gunnar had been working on his mental game for his calf roping. He had to make sure he focused on roping before he let his mind wander to getting off, flanking, and then finally tying the calf. “It was really muddy at nationals, but I roped and tied both my calves. It was deep, so that made it hard to get to the calf.” Gunnar was only two seconds outside of making the short go. The disappointing blow was felt even deeper in May when Gunnar learned that not only was his NMJHSRA career over, but so was his shot at redemption at nationals.
“It’s tough not getting to go to nationals this year; I put in all the time and effort both last year and this year and then just didn’t get to go.” Gunnar didn’t get to compete at a single NMJHSRA event this spring since they were all canceled thanks to the COVID-19 quarantine. “School was out also, so we had to work online. It was different for sure. I spent my extra time at home roping the dummy more and riding horses. I also day worked and hung out with my friends when I had the time.” Now that rodeos are slowly opening up again, Gunnar is excited to get back in the roping pen. At the end of the day, Gunnar gives thanks to god and his family for the rodeo trail he’s been blessed to be on.