Story by Heidi Geesen The 2022 Colorado Junior Rodeo Association Senior Girls Horse of the Year, has a story that is very unique. It is […]
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Meet the Members Johnston Twins
By Siri Stevens
As first-time competitors in the CJRA, 8-year-old twins Qwade and Carter Johnston are leaving their mark in the dummy roping, goat tying and flag race. The boy’s parents – Chase and Tana – also got their rodeo start in the CJRA. “It’s awesome that life has come full circle and we get to take our boys to them now,” Tana said. “The boys didn’t ride much at all until they were late 6, almost 7 years old. Last year was the first season they went to rodeos.” Qwade and Carter got a somewhat belated start on horseback simply because life threw them some curve balls early on. For this Kersey, Colorado, family, learning to ride and rope is a life skill.
“The boys were born on November 5, which was 9 weeks premature,” Tana explained. “We were in the NICU for 7 weeks and finally came home on Christmas Eve.” Both born with completely collapsed lungs has left both boys with asthma. Before turning 5, even a slight cold was extra challenging simply because their lungs had to work so much harder. “We still monitor them closely, but the bigger they get the better they get. We can avoid their triggers and they can tell us when they have trouble breathing.” Now adays, the only time it’s hard for Qwade and Carter to breath is when they’re kickin’ hard for home after a flag run.
For this Kersey, Colorado, family, learning to ride and rope is a life skill. Tana can remember riding as early as 3, and Chase was basically the same way. When the boys arrived, priorities changed, and rodeo took a back seat for a few years. “One day we decided that if we didn’t do it [rodeo], then the boys would never be exposed to it. I started riding and roping again and that piqued the boys’ interest.” Riding quickly became a family affair as Qwade and Carter learned the fundamental skills they would later use to compete in the CJRA. “When we first started, Qwade took to it right away, but Carter was a little more hesitant. For a while, Carter preferred to play with his tractors in the dirt while everyone else was riding. We didn’t push him [Carter] and eventually he started riding and really likes it now.”
Before entering the CJRA this year, Qwade and Carter started competing at the Rockin’ K. They still enter the family-ran events but are looking forward to their first CJRA finals. They love all three of their events, but each has their favorite. Introverted Carter prefers the goat tying while out-going Qwade likes the fast-paced flag race. “Goat tying is super fun, but it also challenges me, and I like that,” Carter said. “I ride Tivio, who used to be Qwade’s horse but now he’s mine. I started riding him last summer.” The 20-year-old gelding was the first major purchase Chase and Tana made as newly weds almost 12 years ago. Tivio is the steady eddy mount Carter needs. “I like that I don’t need to wear spurs with him, and he just does whatever I tell him to,” he added.
Qwade competes on 23-year-old Tex who was Tana’s rope horse back when she was going to amateur and WPRA rodeos. Quick-footed Tex makes the flag race Qwade’s favorite event. With completely opposite personalities, Chase and Tana weren’t sure how the twins would handle always competing against each other. “Since they’re twins, they’re always going to compete against each other, so we talk a lot about how they have each other’s back,” Tana said. “They work really hard together, and they are each other’s biggest fans.” Even though the boys spend quite literally all their time together, they get along better than most siblings. Tana said they very rarely fight. The soon-to-be third graders have been homeschooled since early 2020 when COVID first hit. They enjoy the one-on-one teaching they get from their mom, but the best part is all the free time after school is done for the day. The boys spend a lot of that time practicing their events or playing their favorite game, cops and robbers.