story by Ruth Nicolaus After her first semester of Nebraska Junior High School Rodeo, Charli Coats is loving it. The Juniata, Neb. cowgirl just started […]
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Meet the Member Jaden Fanning
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Jaden Fanning would rather work than play video games. It’s not that he doesn’t like video games, but being outside around the ranch appeals to him more.
The fourteen-year-old cowboy, a resident of Ogallala, Neb., competes in the Nebraska Junior High School Rodeo Association in the chute dogging, tie-down roping, team roping (heading for Sutton Schrunk), goat tying, and ribbon roping (roping for Claudia Rhoades).
Of his events, chute dogging is his best, in part because “I’m just big, and I’m good at it,” he said.
For the heading, his go-to horse is Dunny, a fourteen-year-old horse who is “a real nice calm kid horse,” Jaden said. “He’s nice and slow but he can kick it into gear.”
For his other events, he rides J.B., a nineteen-year-old sorrel who is smaller than Dunnie.
Jaden is an eighth grade student at Ogallala Middle School. He loves algebra class, because numbers come easily to him. Writing in language arts classes is his least favorite, because “writing isn’t my real strong point.” His favorite teacher is Mr. Gillen, who is the physical education instructor, because “he’s a real nice, easy-going guy.”
In extracurricular activities, Jaden plays football, basketball, and runs track. He is a member of his school’s FFA chapter and is on the honor roll. In 4-H, he competes in horse shows. This fall, his football and rodeo season were cut short when he broke his collarbone while playing football. After surgery, a plate and screws, it will be eight weeks before he is released to compete.
The best meal his mom makes is beef and noodles, with peach cobbler for dessert. He loves to drink Coca-Cola, and sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt and watermelon are his vegetable and fruit of choice. His favorite candy is a Hershey’s chocolate bar.
His favorite place to be is the outdoor arena at his house, or his Grandpa Jay Fanning’s ranch near Benkelman. For fun, he loves to play football with friends or go to Lake McConaughy, to tube or sit on the beach.
His favorite work is ranching and riding through cattle with Grandpa Jay, and at home. One thing people don’t know about him, he said, “is that I like to work.” His dad agrees. “He’s the kid that, instead of playing video games, would rather be outside building fence or digging a post hole.” He also likes to run equipment. “He likes to fire up the tractor and find something to do,” his dad said.
His parents, Jasper and Tara, appreciate that their boy listens and tries hard. “He’s pretty easy to coach,” Jasper said.
Jaden never showed much interest in roping till two years ago, at a branding, when he told his dad he’d like to learn. Since then, he hasn’t quit roping. “He started working at it, and he hasn’t stopped,” Jasper said.
When he grows up, he’d like to be a rodeo cowboy, competing in the steer wrestling or team roping, and ranch with his grandpa.
Jaden has a younger brother, Jacob, who is eleven years old.