Story by Siri Stevens Joyce Barnes has been involved with the Moffat County High School Rodeo Club for 12 years. She started when her oldest, […]
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Meet the Member Keenan Hayes
story by Lily Weinacht
Keenan Hayes of Hayden, Colorado, is the 2018 NHSRA Reserve World Champion Bareback Rider. A rookie in the CSHSRA this last season, he spurred his way to second place on the leader board after tying for 1st in the first round and placing 2nd in the second round, while he was 4th in the short round at Nationals. The 15-year-old also qualified in the saddle bronc riding and finished fifth in the average in bull riding. “I really like the atmosphere at Nationals, and all the people that are there and how big of a rodeo it is,” says Keenan, who was the NJHFR World Bareback Steer Riding Champion in 2016. “How the performances are run is a good time, and it’s just a fun rodeo.”
A third-generation bareback rider, Keenan also competed in chute dogging in junior high, but decided to focus on the roughstock side of the arena in high school. “I like bareback riding the most, and bull riding is pretty close. Saddle bronc is a love hate relationship,” Keenan jokes. “I just like getting in timing with broncs and drawing a big horse. There so much more going on than in bull riding, so it keeps you busy the whole time. If you’re on a good horse, you can focus on perfecting what you’re doing, and you just feel so good.”
Along with the NHSFR, Keenan has drawn horses at the Junior NFR every year since it started in 2016, when he won reserve champion in the saddle bronc riding. Last year, he won the all-around. This is also Keenan’s second season competing in the CPRA, where he’s sitting in the top three in bareback riding and bull riding, and second in the all-around standings. “Right now, what’s really motivating is, in the CPRA, being the youngest bareback rider or bull rider, and being high up in the standings—trying to beat some of the older guys.”
Keenan met one of the men who inspire him, Casey Coletti, at a rodeo school in Craig, Colorado, several years ago, and he also looks up to Jake Booco, who has helped him in bull riding, and Steven Peebles. “I met Steven this summer at a weekly rodeo in Snowmass, and he watched me ride and came over and talked with me and he’s been helping me out ever since. He tells me what I need to work on, and if I need any equipment, he’ll probably have it. I have my own practice horses and bulls, and I can find somebody with a practice pen I can haul over to.” He’s also supported by his parents, Donnie and Jackie Hayes, and his sister Kaitlynn, who is a freshman on the Garden City Community College rodeo team.
Keenan operated a stock contracting business, Rocky Mountain Mini Broncs, for several years, putting on mini bronc ridings at local rodeos and fairs. Since his rodeo career has picked up in high school, however, Keenan decided to sell out, but still plans on becoming a stock contractor when he retires from rodeo. He also enjoys playing running back and linebacker for the Hayden Tigers, and is starting his sophomore year at Hayden High School. “I’m taking a college welding class, so I’ll work on TIG welding, and then doing certifications the second semester. I just bought a Capri Camper, so I need to put a luggage rack on the hitch, and when I’m home, I’m working on restoring an old semi truck.
“For short-term goals, I’m really going to focus on making it to the Junior NFR. I’m going to try to win that this year, and next year I’m going to work at winning the IFYR and Nationals.”