story by Lindsay Humphrey A graduate of a school known for its rodeo team – Oklahoma Panhandle State University – Austin Hawkins didn’t compete until […]
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Meet the Member Tanner Hayes
story by Michele Toberer
Although Tanner Hayes started out team roping and competing in Little Britches rodeos as a child, it wasn’t’ until he gave saddle bronc riding a try at 16 years old that his true love for rodeo developed. The cowboy from Elkhart, Kansas has been competing in the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association since 2016 and is grateful to his good friend, Cade Alton, for helping him get started. “Cade was a couple years older than me, but he was a saddle bronc rider and always told me how fun it was. I told him I wanted to do it and he helped me with my gear and taught me what I needed to know.”
Tanner was able to compete for part of his senior year with the Kansas High School Rodeo Association before graduating from Elkhart High School in 2015. He then went on to Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kansas for two years to college rodeo before transferring to Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma. Tanner spent the next few years studying and competing at college rodeos and recently graduated from OPSU in 2020 with an animal science degree. Tanner qualified for the NIRA College National Finals Rodeo as a saddle bronc rider in 2017 and 2019.
Every year that Tanner has been a member of the KPRA, he has qualified for the season finals, and he is grateful to have finished on top twice; as the 2017 KPRA Champion Saddle Bronc Rider and 2019 KPRA Champion Saddle Bronc Rider. “The KPRA is really a great organization and I am so glad to compete at their rodeos because most of them are pretty nearby. I can go to a rodeo and compete and still be back to work the next day. My favorite part of rodeo is the comradery with the other riders though. I like traveling to rodeo with some other riders and it’s always a good time at the rodeos.”
Tanner’s parents, Dean and Amy Hayes, were never involved in rodeo but have been incredibly supportive of his ambitions. Tanner used to team rope with his older brother, Dietz, but neither have done much roping since childhood. “My dad works as a farmer, and I work for him quite a bit. We farm milo and wheat and do some local custom cutting for other farmers. My mom works at a local co-op for farmers.
Tanner is thankful he lives only 40 miles from Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame cowboy, Robert Etbauer, and appreciates that Robert has been instrumental in his riding career. “I have been going there to practice since I started, and he has helped me a bunch. Things he has taught me have made such a positive impact on the way I ride.”
Life is pretty simple for Tanner at this point in his life. His main hobby, sport, and source of fun is saddle bronc riding; and his main concern is getting to the next KPRA rodeo.