story by Lindsay Humphrey “I was born carrying a rope.” It’s a bold statement from 14-year-old Gunnar Tipton who’s been roping calves and heels competitively […]
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Meet the Member Meason YBarra
story by Lindsay King
“I would not have it any other way, I love it [rodeo]. Being on the road with my family, I love roping with my grandpa, Sonny Young. Most grandpas can’t go play basketball with you but I get to rope with mine,” said Meason Ybarra from Silver City, New Mexico. The 14-year-old roper and marksman is the oldest of three kids, Riley, 12, and Brady, 6, to Tony and Jessica Ybarra. Though he ropes calves and shoots his light rifle, team roping is where his heart lies. “I just love roping and there are plenty to go to around here. We like to spend our winter in Arizona so we can rope; we have done that for as long as I can remember.” His grandpa and dad both team roped, spurring Meason into the event when he was just six.
“My dad is my biggest influence in rodeo, he is always taking me to rodeos and he puts me on good horses. He taught me how to compete and how to get better.” His mom is always there, armed with the moral support and truck keys when Tony can’t drive Meason to his rodeo. “She helps open chutes, move cattle and drive the four-wheeler with the dummy on it a lot.” A majority of his immediate family rodeos, as well as his siblings. Meason will start his freshman year with New Mexico Connections Academy, a homeschool program. “The education is really good and when I finish my school work I can go outside and be riding horses or roping the dummy.”
When he isn’t practicing during the summer, Meason likes to go fish with his grandpa, Ben Ybarra, and ranch. “A lot of our friends have ranches and I just help them. That helps me work horses and keep them legged up. Gathering and branding helps keep the horses calm and level-headed when they have to rope competitively.” It was in 7th grade when Meason was the reserve state champion in the team roping sending him to nationals. He also qualified in the chute dogging, calf roping and light rifle shooting. The two-time national champion light rifle shooter also won chute dogging and took fourth in calf roping this year.
His proudest moment in rodeo so far was taking first and second in the team roping at a rodeo serving as a qualifier for the JrNFR this spring. “It was pretty nerve-racking coming back as such a high call, but we knew we just needed good ones and to be clean.” His dream is to make the trip to Vegas in the next couple of years and test his abilities in the JrNFR. He also wants to hit Oklahoma for the USTRC finals sooner rather than later. “My goal this year is to just stay consistent and rope aggressive. I just need to rope how I know I can. And not to lose my horsemanship in the process so my horses will keep working smooth.” Keeping his composure before, during and after a run are the keys to Meason’s mental strategy. He always reminds himself not to dwell on what just happened, good or bad.
With his sights set on becoming a Red Raider one day, Meason would like to college rodeo in his pursuit of a world championship inside the Thomas and Mack. “I have a few buddies that are engineers and I like what they do, their jobs seem really fun. I like to build things, so I think my degree will be something in engineering.” Though Meason is moving out of the NMJHSRA, he appreciates the tough competition that has prepared him for high school. “The NMJHSRA gives that next step of competition to help you keep getting better. It makes you rope tough and stay on your game, you can never back down.”