Meet the Member Zoey Cline
story by Lindsay Humphrey No stranger to junior high nationals, Zoey Cline from Corona, New Mexico, is optimistic she can make a third appearance on […]
story by Lindsay Humphrey
As the 2021 NMJHSRA season gets rolling, Louk Thomas will be a new face for his fellow breakaway, tie down, ribbon and team roping competitors. This 14-year-old eighth grader intended to officially kick off his rodeo career last spring, but COVID effectively put a stop to it. Despite missing out on his first season of junior high rodeo, Louk is excited for the road ahead. Of the four events Louk intends to compete in, his favorite by a landslide is team roping. “It’s an adrenaline rush and I can do it every day. That’s what I really love doing,” said the Farmington, New Mexico, cowboy. Although he rode horses quite a bit growing up, Louk is new to roping cattle.
“I didn’t rope or even think about rodeo until about two years ago when my mom (Candace) married Rusty Herrera. I always wanted to and Rusty has been a big help in teaching me about it.” As manager of a cattle ranch, Rusty was able to teach Louk how to read cattle in the real-life setting. Louk knows this has helped him tremendously in the rodeo arena. “After Rusty taught me to read cattle, it was fairly easy to just keep on learning and start roping. I tracked the lead steer for quite a while before I finally started roping out of the box.” When the junior high season was canceled last spring, Louk pulled himself up by the bootstraps and didn’t let his disappointment control him. He headed out to team roping jackpots to get as many runs under his belt as possible.
Luckily, Louk enjoys the process of learning and trying his best to get better in all facets of life. “I’m happy I get to rope every day, that’s my favorite part of the day. I’m working hard so I can be a world champion one day.” Louk has harvested quite a bit of good from the canceled rodeo seasons. He’s always wanted to be homeschooled so he could spend more time on the back of a horse, and the pandemic helped make that a necessity. “I can’t wear a mask for very long because I have asthma. I like that I can get my schoolwork done quickly and then I head out to the practice pen. I’m almost always riding a horse or roping a dummy.”
When Louk thinks about his future career path, he’s already somewhat living out his dreams. He could foresee himself being a professional rodeo competitor, horse trainer, farrier, basically anything that has to do with horses. “Since my stepdad works for a ranch, I’ve been able to see what it would be like to work on horseback all the time. I really enjoy it.” Louk’s time helping Rusty has also given him the foundation for becoming a quick tie-down roper. “Working on the ranch was where I’ve really learned how to rope because we have to doctor the calves sometimes. And that has given me a chance to learn how to flank better.”
Practicing every day can be a tall order for working parents, but Louk has other roping partners in his siblings – half-sister, Maddi, 16, stepbrother, Rank, 13, and full siblings Baylor, 12, and Tenley, 10. “Rank usually practices with me when I need to work on my heeling since he’s a header. And Maddi ropes also, but she runs barrels mostly”. As Louk gets advice from various corners of the rodeo world, he’s holding onto Rusty’s advice: take a little from everyone and make it your own. Louk’s support system runs both deep and wide. “My whole family usually comes with me to rodeos and jackpots. And then my grandparents help me out quite a bit also.” With plenty of new rodeos yet to experience, Louk has a hard time picking his favorite. However, one place he’s been quite a bit is Durango, Colorado. “There are a lot of people that rope well there and that makes me try even harder.” Louk is looking forward to making good friends in the NMJHSRA and the tough competition that will hopefully propel him towards qualifying for state. “If I don’t make it to state finals, I’ll just be happy having fun and getting to rope.”
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