Meet the Member Slade Thompson
story by Julie Carter When you’re not naturally gifted with talent, you make it look like you are with try. Portales Junior High rough stock […]
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Just when Monte Faulkner was getting into the groove of steer saddle bronc riding, COVID-19 canceled his final season in the NMJHSRA. Both his dad, Shane, and grandpa, Skeeter, were saddle bronc riders, which is why it’s the only event that’s captured Monte’s attention. “When we found junior high rodeo, we figured that would be a good program to get into. I went to rodeos with my dad growing up and I would enter the sheep or calf riding,” said the 14-year-old. “I can remember going to rodeos and watching my dad ride and all I could think is that’s what I wanted to do too.”
A handful of Holstein steers and a practice saddle later, and Monte was on his way to his first rodeo season as a roughstock rider. “I got on my first steer in a bronc saddle about a week before my first rodeo. That first year there was a lot of learning and hitting the ground. My second year of junior high rodeo I started to get things figured out and find my rhythm in the saddle.” As a sixth grader, Monte took fourth place at state finals and made his first trip to nationals. The following year he took second to punch his ticket to Huron, South Dakota, and found himself in the short round.
“My first year at nationals was kind of crazy. I didn’t know what to think and I was still in a big learning curve. My second year was a lot more fun. I just tried to stay calm and not overthink things.” Just like many of his fellow NMJHSRA competitors, Monte had his sights set on making a trip to nationals again. This rodeo season had other plans, but Monte still has plenty to look forward to. He’s hoping to make a second appearance at the JrNFR this December. “One of my proudest moments was going to Vegas in 2019. I had just started getting on horses and it was a lot like my first year in junior high, I barely made it to the JrNFR. I was really nervous when I got on my horses, so hopefully I can qualify and do a little better this year.”
Although the canceled rodeo season was disappointing, it gave Monte plenty of time to get prepared for his first year in high school rodeo. He’s had quite a bit of help growing up in and around the bucking chutes. “Both my dad and Darrell Triplett, one of his traveling partners turned saddle maker and coach, have helped me a lot. They are always there and willing to help with whatever I need at a rodeo or at practice.” Darrell has been instrumental in making sure Monte always has the right equipment thanks to his business, Broncdaddy Leather. And his family usually helps him out at practice. “My mom, Sage, usually flanks the horse, and then my older sister, Bayler, 15, helps my dad pickup. And then my younger sister, Keelin, 13, pulls the gate for me. It’s pretty much always been a team effort out in the practice pen.”
As Monte reflects on his time in junior high rodeo, there’s plenty he’ll miss about it. “I had a lot of buddies in junior high rodeo that were always there for me. The thing I liked most about junior high was the atmosphere and the people that made it.” Monte is looking forward to continuing to represent his home state in high school rodeo and plans to make a few more trips to nationals. “I’m just spending most of my time trying to figure everything out about riding broncs. We haven’t been able to go to any rodeos this year yet, but we’ve been in the practice pen a whole bunch. I’m excited for my first high school rodeo whenever that might be. We haven’t decided when we want to go to one though.”
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