Meet the Member Slade Thompson
story by Julie Carter When you’re not naturally gifted with talent, you make it look like you are with try. Portales Junior High rough stock […]
story by Lindsay King
“Rodeo is about the losing factor, you aren’t always going to win in life. You have to set goals and work hard towards those,” said Justin Anaya from Stanley, New Mexico. “Ranching is pretty much the same thing, you have to figure out what you want and how to manage your cows, what you have to spend on feed and have a good amount left so you don’t go broke.” Life on the ranch taught Justin the lessons he needed to get started as a heeler in the NMJHSRA. Roping, a result of living and working on the ranch, has been Justin’s lifestyle. It’s one he’s adapted to serve him well in the rodeo arena. The youngest of three – Mark Dalton, 33, and Kendle Anaya, 16 – Justin looks up to his siblings in life but works to emulate Junior Nogueira in his roping.
“Junior is a really good roper and he makes a lot of good shots. I like him because he is really motivational. I also like his style of heeling,” said the 14-year-old. His parents – Mark and Kim Anaya – are his main supporters when it comes to rodeo. “My mom is really important because she does the paperwork. My dad helps me practice by pulling the drag or working the chutes. He helps me with horsemanship and with my roping.” Justin learned many life lessons from his parents while working out on the ranch. A love for wide open spaces and time with his family are just a few of the things Justin has gleaned from his parents also. “My parents have taught me a lot about a good work ethic and how to be independent in life.”
Following in his dad’s footsteps as a heeler, Justin also competes in the light rifle shooting. He grew up hunting rabbits around the ranch and took a hunter’s safety class when he was 9. That got Justin on the trail for game bigger than just rabbits. “My favorite thing to hunt would be elk. I shot my first elk four years ago.” Justin also spends time on the lake fishing for bass with his grandpa. The pair takes special trips to Elephant Butte Lake during the summer. One of Justin’s favorite aspects of the NMJHSRA is spending time with his family and friends. “It’s like we’re all a family, it’s nice to get away and travel the state. I like seeing different places and meeting new people.”
Making new friends is just one small fringe benefit of competing in rodeo for Justin. “Rodeo has brought me some of my closest friends, but it has also taught me how to communicate with people better. That has grown my social skills and it’s something I can take with me through life.” Those friends and skills may come in handy one day when Justin fulfills his dream of competing at the NFR and becoming a world champion heeler. On his way up the ladder of rodeo success, Justin has learned a thing or two about the losing side of things. “At the end of the day, losing is hard because I know I could’ve done better. When I go home I just work harder, knowing that next time it will be better.” Justin applies this same logic to his schoolwork and light rifle shooting.
Before Justin ever nods his head or pulls the trigger, he clears his mind and focuses on his end goals: two heels or a tight pattern on the target. “When I’m roping, I try to think about my position and where I need to be to make a good, fast shot. And when I’m shooting, it’s all about the bullseye.”
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