Meet the Member Keyton Wright
story by Siri Stevens Keyton Wright, from Nephi, Utah, took a quick trip (18 hours) to the Fort Worth Stockyards to show in the National […]
story by Lily Weinacht
Three years ago, Hayes Weight got on his first full-size bull. Today, the 19-year-old from Goshen, Utah, is competing in the RMPRA while also working his way up the ranks of the RAM Rodeo PRCA Permit Standings. “I love rodeo, and I just want to be known as one of the best bull riders,” says Hayes, who started his career riding sheep when he was 2. “My dad used to ride bareback horses in high school. When I was a baby and would wake up crying, my mom would put on a show called Rodeo Bloopers, and it mesmerized me, and it’s something I always wanted to do.”
Hayes took a break from roughstock for five years after a sheep flipped over on him and knocked him out, and he took up roping instead for several years. But he couldn’t stay away from the chutes and returned to rodeos when he was 12 and started riding steers. Hayes’ sister ran barrels for a while and his brother rode steers, but Hayes is carrying on the rodeo tradition now. His parents, Thane and Wendy, come to as many of his rodeos as they can. After entering open rodeos for several years, Hayes high school rodeoed for Utah three years and competed in the NLBRA. Last season, he was the 2017 NLBRA Senior Boy World Bull Riding Champion after winning two rounds and placing seventh in another at the finals. “Little Britches was really good for me in figuring out the bull riding. I caught on pretty quick, but that’s where I got my confidence and got on the bulls I needed to be getting on.”
That confidence has carried Hayes into the pro rodeo world, where he’s sitting in the top 20 of permit holders. He won his first pro rodeo in Yuma, Arizona, this winter, and now he’s competing on the PRCA Wilderness Circuit with fellow bull riders McCoy Moody, Rowdy Cook, and Elijah Monnett. They take turns driving on the longer trips, and as soon as he found out how much he’d be traveling, Hayes bought himself a neck pillow. “Best $15 I spent in my life,” he says with a laugh. He also competes in the RMPRA with McCoy and Rowdy. “The RMPRA runs their rodeos very professionally and they have really good stock to get on. One of my favorites is the Santaquin rodeo because it’s kind of a hometown one for me, and everything runs so well there. I ended up tied for second there with my friend Chance Ekins.”
Hayes gets on his stationary barrel several times a week and stops in at Rhett Nelson’s practice pen once in a while for a tune up. Shawn Stephens has mentored him in the bull riding, and Hayes travels with Shawn’s son, Dylan. Hayes also looks up to his friend Colton Humphries, whom he met at his first bull riding school and later went to high school with. “Like anyone who mentors you, they teach you what you need to do, and that how you act when you lose determines how long until you win again. It’s one of those things to help you keep a positive attitude.”
Hayes attended Utah Valley University for a semester last year, but when his coaches encouraged him to try pro rodeo, he took their advice. He strained his groin in February and took several months off to heal before returning to competition in late May. He’s working roofing jobs on the side to keep him going through the summer rodeo run, but ultimately wants to rodeo full time. “I’d definitely be okay with making the RMPRA finals, and I want to try and win our circuit finals,” he finishes. “And I’d like to be in the top 15 for permit holders at the end of the year.”
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