Meet the Rodeo Company Rockin’ K Rodeo
story by Siri Stevens Tony Keeton started his company, Rockin’ K Rodeo in 2017. It’s not his only full time job. Tony has worked for […]
story by Michele Toberer
McKinley Belvin lives a cowboy life as if he’s in an era that has come and gone. His days are spent on horseback, catching wayward cows, breaking colts, and teaching his two young sons the cowboy way. Still carrying a flip phone, and never even having an email address, the technological ways of today provide no interest to McKinley; he’s much more concerned with the pride he gains in a job well done with his horses. He is looking forward to making the trip to the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma in January, where he will work alongside Shawn Spaulding, as a pickup man for the IFR50. “It’s pretty neat to get to go to Guthrie for the first time. I’ve never been to the IFR, but I have a bay roan pickup horse named Jeff that has been used at the IFR a few times by Dennis Morris, and Brandon Harris. I’m glad I’ll be bringing Jeff this year.”
McKinley competed in rodeo a bit, “not enough to talk about,” and worked for several rodeo companies where he hauled timed event cattle, while he rode colts and started rope and ranch horses. “I got lucky and started picking up. I liked it and kept doing it.” He has been working as a pickup man for 16 years, and has worked for Strawberry Pruitt, Southern Rodeo Company, Mike Johnson, and Big Hat Rodeo Company, to name a few. McKinley takes a lot of pride in his horses, because they are a reflection of him as he raises and trains them himself. McKinley has 12 broodmares and besides raising colts to sell after turning them into rope and ranch horses, he also trains outside horses for people, and keeps at least 4 solid pickup horses and 2 or 3 started pickup horses on hand for the job. “I usually sell 2 or 3 every year, but I have 6 solid pickup horses right now that I’ve kept to bring with me to the IFR.”
Besides the horse business, McKinley does custom cow work, manages cattle, and catches wild cattle for customers. He also raises cow-catching dogs, mostly Black Mouth Cur and Kelpie crosses, to help pen cattle. “We pen cattle every day and the dogs help a lot. Tomorrow we’ll pen 60 buffalo for a customer that needs to sort out his herd to bring some to an exotic animal sale. The buffalo don’t drive as good as cattle, they are pretty wild.”
McKinley and his wife Tiffany have been married 8 years, and have a 9-year-old son, Bryson, and 6-year-old son, Zane. “They ride with me almost every day. I don’t know if they’ll want to rodeo themselves, they play rodeo all the time. They go with me to help drive cattle at some of the close rodeos I work at. Bryson has started roping steers here at home, but so far I think they’d rather go rope and work dogs with me than enter a rodeo.”
“I always pick at my own work no matter how good it is, I’m not one to brag about anything. I just try to do my best when I’m working as a pickup man, and sometimes I’m satisfied, and sometimes I’m not, even when it went well. I’m generally prouder of my horses than anything I could ever do. I’m just tickled to take them all to the IFR50 in January, and to get to go see it all one time.”
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