story by Mackie Ford The Oklahoma High School Rodeo Association prioritizes high school students and the sport of rodeo, implementing renewable energy in the rodeo […]
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Meet the Member Korben Baker
story by Lindsay Humphrey
“When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a cowboy and now that I’m old enough that’s exactly what I do,” said Korben Baker from Marlow, Oklahoma. “I work at the sale barn and then for some farmers and ranchers.” Korben’s dad, Kenny, works in the oil field while his mom, Monica, owns a hair salon. The Baker’s aren’t immersed in the western way of life other than through their small community and now Korben’s involvement with the OHSRA as a saddlebronc rider. “I started roping with my uncle and his friends and that introduced me to rodeo in the first place.”
One of Korben’s day jobs is starting colts. Other than riding broncs, it’s one of his favorite things to do. “It’s fun to take an unbroke horse and turn them into something good. I ride colts almost every day and when they bucked, I liked it. I used to have friends that would bring me their broncy colts to ride.” While Korben still always chooses a mount who needs more work than the rest of the string, he doesn’t hope they break in two like he used to. “Now that I ride saddlebroncs, I don’t want the colts to buck. It’s a whole lot easier if they don’t. But I still always pick a horse that’s fresh or needs work rather than something really broke.”
Last February, Korben entered his first rodeo as a saddlebronc rider and also became a first-time member of the OHSRA. “Brent Bullard and my dad helped me get started. My dad didn’t ride broncs, so he was just as blind as I was coming into it, but we figured it out together.” Kenny’s been a driving force behind getting Korben on as many horses as possible at camps and in practice pens. Despite his efforts, finding practice horses has proven to be a challenge for Korben. That’s been the most difficult aspect of this venture. Equipped with both a spur board and a bucking dummy, Korben has ways to practice even when he can’t find a horse to get on.
Even though it’s hard to find time and horses to practice, Korben still managed to qualify for nationals in his rookie season. After some tough luck at state finals, he finished third in the state. “High school nationals was easily my favorite memory so far. I met a lot of people there, even some from Oklahoma that I didn’t know. It was a fun time.” It’s those friends Korben met who are cheering from behind the chutes when he’s spurring one down. Even though he’s entered some open rodeos, the OHSRA events are his favorite. Korben appreciates being around people his own age when he’s climbing on a bronc. There’s no doubt his peers have helped him become a better bronc rider.
“When I’m doing everything right, I know I’m not coming off and my feet are moving. It feels good up there. Those are the fun ones and it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done.” Of the skilled bronc riders Korben’s been around, many have mentioned that he has a natural talent for it. “They say it’s the hardest to learn and easiest to do and I’m still learning. Considering I haven’t been doing it even a year yet, I’d say I’m doing alright.” As Korben prepares to graduate from Marlow High School, the 18-year-old is looking at his options at Fort Scott Community College. He wants to ride saddlebroncs for the team but hasn’t quite decided on a major just yet.