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Meet the Member – Laiken Groom
story by Lily Weinacht
Every time Laiken Groom steps into the saddle, she comes a little closer to her dream of becoming a world champion barrel racer. The 12 year old from Carbondale, Colo., has been competing in rodeo for several years, and 2014 marked her first year with the CJHSRA. In addition to barrel racing, Laiken also competes in pole bending, goat tying, and dally ribbon roping, but chasing cans is by far her favorite event. “Barrel racing spices everything up, and there’s something new about it every time!” says Laiken. “I really love horses and being with all kinds of people. Watching what other people are doing in rodeo makes me want to compete even more each year. I just keep working on moving up to the best spot in the standings!”
Laiken comes from a rodeo-centric family, with her parents, Monica and Steve Groom, competing in dally ribbon roping together, and her brother Drake (14) roping in the CSHSRA. She also has a younger brother, Dalton (7), who competes in gymkhanas. The Groom family lives in Carbondale, but keeps their horses near the Carbondale rodeo grounds, where Laiken’s dad works for the town. They also have several other horses, a goat for goat tying, and two cowdogs named Bella and Cash. Laiken’s all-around horse is Bullseye, a Quarter Horse crossed with a pony. She and Bullseye have been competing together for the last year, and he was Laiken’s horse in 2014 when she was the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo Princess. “My favorite part of being royalty was starting the rodeo,” says Laiken. “It made me feel excited, and having all those people there smiling at me made me feel happy!”
Having just finished sixth grade at Carbondale Community School, Laiken especially loves P.E. and Language Arts. She also enjoyed her school’s annual production, which they call The Big Event, where the entire school wrote, produced, and performed a large theater production incorporating what they were studying, with the help of parents and teachers. This year’s theme was Westward, and one of Laiken’s favorite parts of the play was the final song, sung by the entire cast. Laiken also plays on her recreation center’s basketball and softball teams, and plans to play volleyball next. Her basketball team finished in second place for the season. “We were pretty excited!” says Laiken. Beyond rodeo, Laiken enjoys spending time with her friends, or going to visit relatives when her family goes on trips. Many of them, including Laiken’s grandpa, come to cheer her on at her rodeos. She also likes to don her headphones and listen to music, particularly Taylor Swift, but most of the time she can be found outside with her horses or her other animals.
Laiken’s ambitions for the year are to have faster runs in the barrel racing and pole bending, and continuing to improve her goat tying. She hopes to go to Las Vegas to watch the WNFR in person someday soon, and plans to try out for the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo royalty again, while still competing in the CJHSRA. “It’s been a really good year with them. I’ve had a lot of great times and even beat my runs as I try different things. I’ve liked travelling to different places for junior high rodeo, too!” Laiken adds, “I definitely want to continue rodeo after high school. Watching the women barrel race on TV or at the NFR makes me think I could be like them as I grow up. That helps me to work harder and harder!”