Meet the Member Ryan Bestol
story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’m not much of a planner,” said Ryan Bestol of his storied rodeo career so far. “When I get something in […]
story by Lily Weinacht
Jaden Clark, this year’s NSRA’s Bareback Director, comes from a family well versed in the sport of rodeo. The 20 year old from Wellfleet, Neb., expanded his own set of rodeo skills through Little Britches and high school rodeo, serving as the saddle bronc director at the 2012 NHSFR, as well as the student vice president for the state high school association from 2012 to 2013.
A cowboy on both ends of the arena, Jaden competes in bareback riding and team roping in the NIRA, following his dad’s example, who tie-down and team roped in addition to riding bulls and bareback horses. “I like team roping because you can do it all day, whereas bareback riding you can only do once or twice a day, but I love the excitement of the event, and getting off on the pickup man,” says Jaden. “I get a craving for rodeo, and I like that you get rewarded for doing well, but mainly it just feels strange to me to not be rodeoing!”
Jaden started competing in roughstock as a sophomore in high school, following his older brother, Wyatt, who competes in bareback riding in the NIRA, which he competed in during the 2015 CNFR. Jaden did both saddle bronc and bareback riding in high school, qualifying for the NHSFR three times in saddle bronc riding and twice in bareback riding before focusing his energy on bareback. In addition to his dad and brother, Jaden patterns his riding after Idaho bareback rider Kelly Wardell, who, at 50, was the oldest bareback rider at The American Semifinals. “He’s taught me so much about bareback riding – I owe a lot of credit to him. He’s doing a lot for the event,” Jaden adds. “My friend Brit Ellerman is a real inspirational guy, too.”
The Clarks make their home just outside of Wellfleet. “There’s about 70 people here if you count the cats and dogs,” Jaden jokes. He stays with his family during summer break, riding horses and working for a phone company. “One day I might be fixing someone’s DSL, and the next I’ll be plowing so I can put fiber optic cable in the ground. It’s never the same thing, which I like!” Jaden has been teaching himself Russian for the last two years, and also enjoys riding his motorcycle and doing metal work, but he spends much of the rest of his time with his parents, J.R. and Julie, and sister, Madison. Madison was the Nebraska High School Rodeo Queen in 2013, placing second in the 2014 NHSRA Queen Contest. Badger, Jaden’s heel horse, is considered another member of the family, so well loved by the Clarks that each of them, according to Jaden, claims the gelding as their own. “He’s a character!” Jaden says fondly. “He’ll follow us around in the pasture just like one of the dogs, and he’s a great heel horse.”
Jaden will be a junior at the University of Wyoming in Laramie this fall, where he is working toward two degrees in criminal justice and computer science. “I’ll see where it takes me and who I meet down the road, but I do want to work for a federal agency,” Jaden explains. Many of his goals also revolve around rodeo. “I’d like to run for the NSRA champion bareback rider one of these days, and I’d also like to qualify for the CNFR next year in the bareback. Our team finished fourth in the Central Rocky Mountain Region this year, and I mainly want to rally the troops and get the whole team from UW qualified for next year.”
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