story by Lily Landreth Jaytyn Hash took home his first NLBRA world title at the 2019 NLBFR last summer in the team roping, a victory […]
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Meet the Thar family
by Lily Weinacht
The Thar family – Luke and Kelle and their children, Dylan, Preston, and MarLee – have 100 years of family history in the rugged landscape of their Skeleton Springs Ranch outside of Douglas, Wyo. As they carry on the family heritage of ranching, the Thars are also creating another family tradition in the form of rodeo, competing in Little Britches rodeos in Colorado and South Dakota.
Kelle competed in Little Britches from the time she was six until her mid-teens, whereupon she pursued high school rodeo, well equipped with the skills she learned through the NLBRA. She qualified for the NHSFR in barrel racing, and after she entered college, the CNFR. “I feel like Little Britches really helped with that,” says Kelle. “The association is a confidence builder, and it becomes a way of life!” Following college, Kelle and Luke married and returned to her family’s Skeleton Springs Ranch to help Kelle’s father. After he passed away in 2013, Kelle and Luke took over the operation, and their children are thriving in the ranching atmosphere. “We’re in the middle of nowhere, but it’s how we make our living, and we wouldn’t change any of it!” Kelle explains. “I think it’s a super way to grow up, and it’s our whole life. Preston eats, sleeps, and breathes being on his horse and roping.”
Preston, though only five years old, is as dedicated a ranch hand as any grown man. Few things give him as much happiness as tagging calves, except perhaps, rodeo. He and his 15-year-old gelding, Warrior, compete in all of the Little Wrangler events, but flag racing is a highlight of each rodeo. “I like roping the dummy with new friends, too,” Preston adds. At the Torrington Elks Little Britches Rodeo, Preston enjoyed the camaraderie of an NLBRA senior boy, Dallas Daniels, who’s family camped next to the Thars. He stayed out with Preston roping the dummy well after dark. “I thought that was the neatest thing that Preston found a new friend and role model so far apart in age,” says Kelle. “That’s what Little Britches is all about!” Preston also looks up to Taylor Hepp, a worker on the family’s ranch. Like Taylor, Preston hopes to become a team roper, or a ribbon roper, with his sister, Dylan.
Dylan, seven, also competes in all of the Little Wrangler events, although barrel racing is what she loves best. She and her nine-year-old gelding, Alvin, put all of their heart into the cloverleaf pattern. Dylan and her mom occasionally go to barrel races just the two of them, and recently attended seven time WNFR qualifier Angie Meador’s barrel racing clinic in Casper, Wyo. “She (Angie) helped me and Alvin get our confidence back in barrels, and I taught her how to braid her hair to the side!” Dylan exclaims.
In addition to rodeo, Dylan is a first grader at Walker Creek School, and Preston will be joining her there as a Kindergartener this fall. Two of their best friends, Kyle and Kayton, go to the same school, and afterward, they play rodeo at the Thar’s home, playing bucking horses and bulls, and the girls dressing up and doing barrel races. Their rodeos are helped along by a number of the Thar’s animals, which include more horses, goats, cats and dogs. Dylan also spends her time reading The Little House on the Prairie books with her friend, Georgie LaValle, who is one of the Thar’s ranch hands.
Dylan and Preston’s favorite thing to do, however, is ride their horses and practice at a friend’s arena, often bringing their two-year-old sister, MarLee, with them. Dylan and Preston are also responsible for bringing in the family’s cows from the pasture closest to the house, returning to the barn to feed Dylan’s horse his favorite Golden Oreo cookies, or play with their miniature horse, Piglet.
Growing up in a home so thoroughly focused on ranching and livestock, Dylan and Preston have big dreams of rodeoing as they grow up, and watching their parents rodeo and rope during the summer as well. MarLee is already competing in several summer rodeo series, directed on the lead line by her parents, and wearing several of the buckles Kelle won in Little Britches. “My parents hauled me to my Little Britches rodeos, and now we’re doing the same thing,” Kelle reflects. “We’ve come full circle. Little Britches prepares you for rodeo for your whole life!”