story by Siri Stevens The North Park Never Summer Rodeo has been a mainstay in Walden, Colorado, for more than 75 years. “It’s a weeklong […]
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Meet the Member Montana Barlow
story by Michele Toberer
Family ties have fueled Montana Barlow’s drive for riding saddle bronc horses in the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association, and the lessons he learned as he recalls every little detail of watching his father, Eugene Barlow, step over the chutes on to broncs when Montana was just 5 years old, are helping him with his own rides now. “I always enjoyed going with my dad and hanging out at the bucking chutes when he was riding. I learned so many little things about how to get a measurement, set a saddle, or pay attention to how a horse was acting to know how they might hold their head when you rode. I didn’t realize how much I was learning when I was watching him, but I recall so many lessons from what I experienced with my dad.”
Montana’s dad was 28 before he started riding broncs, with a brother, and family on his wife, Irene Littleben’s, side that rode broncs as well. “My dad leaned about bronc riding the hard way, he didn’t really get taught the basics, he just kept getting on broncs and tried to figure it out himself. He obviously loved it, because he tried for 6 years, with multiple broken bones and injuries, before he even made his first full ride.” Eugene wanted an easier path for Montana and his younger brother, Leegene, and made sure to share his hard-learned lessons with them, as well as setting them up with the best instruction he could. “When I was 16 and Leegene was 14, we went to Aces High Rodeo Academy in Tucumcari, New Mexico with horses provided by Circle I Rodeo Company, and we received instruction from professionals like Taos Muncy and Cody Taton. We’ve run into them over the years at different rodeos, and it’s nice because they’re still supportive of us when we see them. I especially appreciate that my dad has always guided a path for us and given us the right equipment and support as we go.”
Montana graduated from Rock Point High School/Community School and competed in the Arizona High School Rodeo Association before attending Lamar Community College, where he recently graduated with an associates of applied science degree in construction trades and competed on the college rodeo team in the NIRA Central Rocky Mountain region. He was recently accepted to the Colorado Mesa University/Western Colorado Community College rodeo team, where he will begin their lineman program in the fall. Leegene recently graduated from Rock Point High and is currently leading the AHSRA saddlebronc standings. Leegene will be rodeoing for Utah State University next year. “My brother and I travel to rodeos together and we’re like two of a kind. We help each other and feed off each other. We watch each other’s rides and help each other fix little mistakes we’re making, so we can correct it on the next horse we ride.”
Montana and his dad both work in the construction industry in Telluride, Colorado, and travel between work and home in Arizona, where his mom makes authentic Navajo rugs, and cares for his 11-year-old sister, Oodessa. Oodessa is an all-around cowgirl who will start AJHSRA next year and compete in multiple rodeo events. Although Montana just started competing in the CPRA, he looks forward to competing in the association his dad competed in during 2008 and 2009. Montana also hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps and qualify for the Indian National Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada one day. He fondly recalls his family going out to support his father at the INFR in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
To stay in shape, Montana likes to snowboard in the winter, and works out daily; focusing on pushups, sit-ups and crunches each morning to keep his core strength at its best. “My dad’s body finally won over his mind, so he retired at 47 after making a little comeback last summer. Out of 10 rodeos he placed in 8 of them and won 4 buckles.” Montana is grateful for the support he receives from his family and the ties that bind the Barlow family together through the sport.