Meet the Member Abree Ensey
story by Lindsay Humphrey As a first-generation rodeo athlete, Abree Ensey and her 16-year-old sister, Paige, are figuring things out as they go along. They […]
story by Lindsay Humphrey
It was during the HYRA Winter Series in Kingman, Kansas, that Paxton Clark nabbed his highest score to date. The 78-point ride was earned while riding a steer with a suitcase handle. While the 14-year-old is only in his second season with the KJHSRA he’s loved every minute of his time behind the chutes. “I have made a ton of friends thanks to the KJHSRA,” said the cowboy from Kiowa, Kansas. “The contractors always bring good stock to the junior high rodeos. They aren’t covered in a bunch of mud, and they aren’t the type of animals that will come after me when I get off.” Paxton’s first taste of dirt came from falling off sheep in the mutton busting. He quickly transitioned to calves and hasn’t looked back since.
“I was riding calves and it wasn’t going so well for me. My dad [Bo Clark] suggested I try bareback. I tried it out and really liked it.” That next year , Paxton decided to add saddlebronc riding to his repertoire. “I’ve always liked bareback the best because it’s a little more on the wild side of rodeo. And I find it easier than my other event [saddlebronc].” Paxton’s dad rode bareback horses back in the day while his mom [Creadence Harmelink] still runs barrel horses today. Other than that, the rest of Paxton’s family was never involved in rodeo before his parents and him took to it. “There are a lot of people who help me, but my parents, Brazos Winters and Matthew Smith are some of the most influential right now.”
It was Brazos and Paxton’s dad who first got the young roughie interested in the sport. And they’ve both been there every step of the way. This past summer, Paxton qualified for his first junior high nationals after his rookie season with the KJHSRA. While there, he met Matthew. “Both Matthew and Brazos are pros and they’re great riders. After every rodeo weekend I’ve made a habit of calling them on Sunday and telling them about the whole weekend after watching my videos. They’ll critique and help me out with whatever I might need.” It was a riding school put on by Brazos and his family that helped Paxton get his form figured out while also making adjustments to his mental game. As Paxton gets himself excited for the broncs of high school rodeo, it’ll likely be another Brazos clinic that gets him prepared. “I’m super excited and ready to get on bucking horses. I need to get a little bit stronger, but I’m really excited to get on my first few, that’s one of my goals for this spring and summer.”
Even though Paxton is getting prepared for his inaugural season with the KHSRA, he’s also keeping his mind right between his ears when it comes to everything he has to tackle currently. “My goal for this season is to cover every single steer I get on and make the state finals so I can put on a good show by covering all three of my steers. I want another shot to compete at nationals.” A big part of finding that success will require a strong mental game. Paxton recognizes the value of a good attitude in this sport. “When my mind isn’t right, I ride like crap and usually get bucked off. It helps if I practice a lot so I can feel confident in myself and that makes it easier to have a positive mindset.”
Even though Paxton is just getting started as a bronc rider, he’s using his experience in the event to his advantage as a colt starter. “I’ve been riding my mom’s colt to get a feel for it and now I have a couple of colts that I’m starting for someone else. I really like horses and I like to teach them new things. It’s always eventful.”
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