story by Lindsay Humphrey After four years of success in the Young Guns association in Dodge City, Kansas, one thing continues to allude Brecken Tullis […]
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Meet the Member: Taylor Blackburn
By Lily Weinacht
Taylor Blackburn began rodeoing when he was just four, and ten years later, the cowboy from Balko, Okla., is just as avid of a competitor. He makes his home in the 34 mile wide stripe of land known as the Oklahoma Panhandle, but travels north to the Sunflower State to compete in the KJHSRA. His events include tie-down roping and chute dogging – both of which he is sitting in the top ten of the standings – as well as team roping. He heads for his roping partner of several years, Zach Bergosh. “Team roping is my favorite – I really like setting up the steers,” explains Taylor. Since Zach lives nearly 400 miles away in Douglass, Kan., the partners don’t have many opportunities to practice together, except for the occasional roping they might enter on the way to their junior high rodeos.
Though team roping is first on his list of favorites, Taylor has been particularly successful in the chute dogging, which he qualified in for the 2015 NJHFR. It’s also the event he represents as a member of the 2015/2016 Junior High Cinch Rodeo Team. “Last year was my first time going to Nationals, and it was pretty neat!” Taylor recalls. He was pleased with his performances, and also enjoyed the thrills of the amusement park he and his family visited. “Nationals was a blast, and we learned a lot last year,” adds Shelli Blackburn, Taylor’s mom. “We can’t wait to go back and put that knowledge to use!”
Both Taylor’s parents, Donnie and Shelli Blackburn, competed in rodeo growing up and wanted Taylor and his sister, Ryann, to experience the western lifestyle. Donnie continues to team rope with Taylor, and the father and son enter several ropings together. “I look up to my dad – he helps me when I practice and encourages me to go as hard as I can and make good runs,” says Taylor. His sister, Ryann (19), competed in high school rodeo and is going to college for a teaching degree. Ryann announced for a junior rodeo association last summer, and though her school is about 150 miles away, she comes to watch nearly all of Taylor’s rodeos. “Ryann does the videoing – I can’t seem to watch and film at the same time,” Shelli jokes.
Outside of the arena, Taylor is an eighth grader at Balko School. Ag. class is one of his favorites, where he’s learned to judge animals including sheep, cows, and pigs. He also played football last fall and finished a solid basketball season with the Balko Bison in February. He used his spring break, however, to enter several USTRC events. Any other free time might be spent hunting, depending on the season. Taylor and his dad enjoy duck and deer hunting in particular.
Yet it’s more likely Taylor can be found in his arena astride his dun roping horse, King. “King’s ten, and we bought him as a head horse, but I started tie-down roping on him, and now do all my events on him,” says Taylor. The Blackburn family’s animal count is rounded out by five more horses, three dogs, and several head of roping steers. “We practice almost every day, and we change it up between the roping dummy or our steers. We’ve only had a few snow days, so I was able to ride all winter. I’ll practice as long as there’s daylight.”
Nearly all of Taylor’s goals involve rodeo. Among them, he’s anticipating the challenge of high school rodeo in the fall, but first, he’s working diligently on another qualification to the 2016 NJHFR. “I want to catch everything, make good times, and go to Nationals again in all my events.”