story by Ruth Nicolaus The COVID-19 pandemic gave Whitney Lake an opportunity to do “lunch” with her dad, Andy. And lunch usually preceded, or followed, […]
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Meet the Member Klayt Staudt
story by Darlene Craven
If Klayt Staudt didn’t want to rodeo or work on the family ranch where he spends most of his time, he would be going against four generations of ranching tradition. Good thing he only wants to be on the ranch that he’s been riding on since he was a toddler. His parents, Kristi and Josh Staudt, have a cow/calf operation located on a good chunk of land in Saguache County located in southwestern Colorado.
Born in Salida, Colorado, 15-year old Klayt goes to Darren Patterson Christian Academy in Buena Vista, Colorado, and is finishing up his eighth grade year. Though he prefers living on the ranch, he’ll likely go to Saguache High School next year.
Klayt, the younger of two boys, started competing in rodeo as a five-year old, in goat tying, barrels, pole bending and flags. Now a member of the Colorado Junior High Rodeo Association, Klayt now specializes in breakaway roping, ribbon roping and team roping.
Team roping, something he picked up roping with his dad, a heeler, and his brother, Jase, a timed event cowboy, now attending the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming, will be his focus going into the spring high school rodeo season. His heading partner, Gus Kelley, and he only started roping together in fall 2019 rodeos where they had a lot of fun. Though they live two hours apart, Klayt and Gus know what they need to do – make more runs together to improve the timing that leads to consistency that leads to winning.
Winning means riding consistently as well. Klayt rides Pistol, a 14-year old mare bought as a two-year old at the National Western Stock Show ranch horse sale in Denver. She learned how to work on the ranch before becoming Klayt’s choice for heeling. “My favorite thing about her is that she’s dependable and I know that she’s going to try her hardest every time.” He also rides Streaker, his 15-year old calf horse who scores well and helps Klayt get out at the line quicker in the ribbon roping and breakaway roping.
Klayt’s drive for consistent performance has resulted in a first place ranking going into the spring 2020 rodeo season in boys breakaway roping, after winning the state finals last year in Craig, Colorado. He currently is leading the ribbon roping with his partner, Harley Baas. Qualifying for nationals where he finished in the top 25 was a highlight. “Nationals was a really cool setup and it was a lot of fun to compete against kids from all over the country.” Winning and placing also means there’s nine state championship saddles and many buckles on display at the ranch. The cash he wins comes in handy for keeping Klayt in Classic ropes and the horses in new tack.
Rifle shooting is another endeavor where Klayt excels and his third place ranking shows that. Klayt lives for hunting season and so far, he’s harvested two bulls and a cow elk. Last fall’s hunt yielded a whopper of a six-point bull. Klayt is pretty proud of that full shoulder mount that will be displayed in his grandpa’s living room.
Other than hunting, Klayt doesn’t have much downtime. “There’s always something to do on the ranch. It’s our livelihood.” Though college is a few years off, he definitely wants to learn ranch management. Good thing one of his favorite subjects at school is math. “We need numbers in both rodeo and ranching and it’s a lot easier to know how to use them and be good at it.” Klayt enjoys working the numbers part of ranching and the chores.
Klayt’s future also may include steer tripping when he gets older and of course, the big dream is to make it to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo as a team roping contestant with Jase. He’d like to get some roping advice from Joseph Harrison, who just won the American. Klayt already has a good line on the philosophy of roping, “When you draw a good one, make sure you use him and don’t let the opportunity pass.”
With a shortened spring rodeo schedule, Klayt will have to be as consistent as he can be on the cattle he draws. “My goal for roping this season is to have a lot of mistake-free runs.”