story by Lily Weinacht WHSRA athlete Karissa Phillips is taking her skills and lessons learned from high school rodeo to the college level this fall. […]
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Meet the Member Wes Bray
story by Lily Weinacht
Wes Bray clinched his goal for his final season of high school rodeo, finishing in the top 20 in the nation at the NHSFR. The 18-year-old from Casper, Wyoming, who is the 2018 and 2019 WHSRA Boys Cutting Champion, finished 18th at the NHSFR. “I was confident going into state, and in the short go everything just happened to turn out good and I didn’t lose any cows, and my horse was really good,” he says.
Wes started cutting in eighth grade when his family moved to Wyoming, then competed all four years in the WHSRA. “Ever since I was a little kid, my dad, Gordon, has been training cutting horses and I just grew up around it. My dad helps me keep my horse tuned up, and my horse is just a sweetheart,” Wes adds. His 17-year-old mare, Lizzie, has won the state cutting title the last four years, twice with Wes, and twice with her previous owner. “She listens really well, and she’s lazy until you walk into the cutting pen, and then she knows her job.”
Lizzie is one of seven horses Wes’s family owns. Many of them are cutting horses, while Wes’s 20-year-old sister, Shae, used to compete in cutting and now runs barrels. “The horsemanship is important—there’s a lot more horsemanship in cutting,” explains Wes, who will think back on his runs but doesn’t like to watch videos of himself. “My dad pushes me quite a bit, and I really like my horse. I always enjoy seeing her when I go to the barn, and she’s always happy to see you. My dad taught me a lot about how to keep her tuned up, and I can feel when I’m leaning or not sitting in the middle of the saddle. My sister and my mom, Paulette, help me out a lot. My mom is probably going to inherit my horse since she wants to start riding again.”
Along with the WHSRA, Wes competed in winter cutting shows with the Wyoming Cutting Club, as well as the National Cutting Horse Association. He won bronze in 2018 in the youth class overall for the Wyoming Cutting Horse Association Area 4. And while he’s finished with high school, Wes hopes to continue cutting as a hobby, and showing in the NCHA. During the summer, he also stays busy setting up tents for special events around Jackson.
Meanwhile, Wes is continuing his education at Casper College to acquire his machining and welding certificates. “I started there this spring—I finished high school early and my high school paid for the first semester of my college classes. It’s a lot of fun, and I should be done in a year and a half to two years.” Wes also enjoys working on machines, particularly his snowmobiles. He has several sleds in various states of repair or upgrades, and loves a challenging project. “We go around Jackson and the Bighorns, and this year I want to go to West Yellowstone. Me and my dad like to go, and Mom is going with us this year too, so it will be a lot of fun,” says Wes. Along with continuing cutting on the side and completing school, his goal is to see where life takes him and rise to the challenge.
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