story by Lindsay Humphrey As a first-generation rodeo athlete, Abree Ensey and her 16-year-old sister, Paige, are figuring things out as they go along. They […]
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Meet the Member Konner Barnett
story by Lily Weinacht
Konner Barnett of Oakley, Kansas, is leading the chute dogging in the KJHSRA standings. This is the 14-year-old’s third season competing in rodeo, following after his older siblings, who introduced rodeo and cutting into the family. “Rodeo is fun, and it gives me something to do,” says Konner. “I do team roping—I’m the heeler and I rope with Blake Stutzman. This is our first year roping together. We live a couple of hours apart, but we usually drive up to his place and practice when we have time. I like chute dogging more, just because of the adrenaline before you go.” Konner plans to start jumping steers from horseback this fall, and he’s already been practicing on the steer saver. “JD Draper did high school rodeo for Kansas, and he and Blair Jones have helped me out with chute dogging.”
Konner’s hard work last season took him to the NJHFR for the first time in the chute dogging and the light rifle shooting. He drew a wily steer and didn’t score, but he’s determined to return to Huron, South Dakota, for the 2019 NJHFR and make it to the short go. “I’ll just hope for better luck of the draw, and I’m working on a couple of things I should change up, like trying to not put too much weight on the head,” Konner explains. “My dad will go help me throw steers, and he and my little brother, Kutler, run chutes.” Kutler rides bulls in the KJHSRA, and their older sister, Kensley, competes in pole bending and cutting in the KHSRA. They travel to rodeos with their parents, Kevin and Kerie, and also have an older brother, Tristen, who rodeoed in high school.
The siblings practice at the Oakley fairgrounds, and Konner keeps his horses legged up at home, including his team roping horse, Mac. “He can get real antsy when we’re in the roping box, and I’m supposedly the first one to keep him calm in the box. I have another horse I used to ride all the time, Charlie, who’s my sister’s turnback cutting horse now. I’ve practiced cutting once, and I think I’ll start it next year for high school.” Konner, Kutler, and Kensley also have 33 head of heifers they purchased this summer that they plan to put weight on and sell next spring.
An eighth-grader at Oakley Middle School, Konner enjoys math and working on Algebra, along with playing football for the Oakley Plainsmen. “I play guard on the defense and D tackle on the offense, and I’m the kicker. So far we’ve won three games. Chute dogging helps me get all my muscles stronger for football, and football gets me exercised for rodeo. I did basketball last year, and I think I might try wrestling and throwing discus for track and field.” As soon as football practice ends, Konner eats dinner and tackles either homework or practicing his rodeo events. “I try to practice every night, but with those heifers, I have to doctor them and keep an eye on them,” says Konner. “I like shooting guns, and I’ll go deer hunting when I get time one of these weekends. My dad is getting back in to shooting, and me and my little brother will go shoot once in a while.”
Along with working on steer wrestling for high school rodeo next year, Konner’s goal is to close his final season of junior high rodeo with another qualification to the NJHFR and a state title in the chute dogging.