Ace in the hole: Ace Reese heads to Tuffest Junior World Championship |

Ace in the hole: Ace Reese heads to Tuffest Junior World Championship

For a boy whose favorite television show is his family’s vhs tape of the 2003 NFR, qualifying for the Las Vegas Tuffest Junior World Championship December 5-8 feels like a royal flush.

Ace Reese, 12, formerly from the Upton, Wyoming area but now from Aquilla, TX, decided about a year and a half ago that he would join his friends roping in Vegas in 2019.

Ace, a calf roper, along with his ’07 bay AQHA mare Modocs Smoken Babe (aka ‘Popcorn’) tackled their goal with a vengeance. Tuf Cooper’s Junior World Calf Roping Championship accepts only 25 qualifiers for each event, so they entered the 12-and-under tiedown qualifier at the Vernon West Memorial Roping, May 12 in Sweetwater, TX. They clocked 36.8 on three for the championship; punching their ticket into Cooper’s December 9-14, 2018 event! One goal reached….

Ace’s mantra is “Stay solid!” Popcorn and Ace were rockin’ their program to be fit and tuned when they rode into Bryan, TX August 8 for the Generation Next Calf Roping, produced by Laurence McCullough and sanctioned by Mike and Sherrilynn Johnson as a qualifier for Vegas’ Tuffest Junior World Championship December 5-8. Four head cleanly trussed in 47.46 clinched Ace and Popcorn a berth among 40–60 qualifiers there; completing another goal.

Ace kept in shape while giving his top mount a break. He stepped on Tuxedos Lady Doc (the ’96 AQHA mare that helped Riley Pruitt win his first saddle) to rope in Roy Cooper’s Junior Calf Roping Championship at Decatur, Texas the 4th of July. Ace flew through four head in 42.2 to win the event, plus claim the distinction of winning his first saddle – on the same horse Riley Pruitt rode to win his first one!

Rodeo is Ace’s first love, but as a natural athlete, he dosn’t stop there. “I enjoy throwin’ a football with my brother, and we shoot quite a little . . . some targets, and sometimes hunting.”

Ace’s idol is Troy Pruitt. He’s also read Fred Whitfield’s book and says that’s who he’d pick to spend a day with if he could. If he had any free time he’d “Prob’ly ride my horse, and rope the dummy” and hopes to eventually win 8 gold buckles.

Ace comes from a working ranch lifestyle, always helping with anything that needed to be done. He enjoyed feeding bum calves, and “maybe cleaning stalls” is least favored. As for TV, Ace says, “There’s this tape of the 2003 NFR . . . that’s my favorite!” Homeschooling was perfect for Ace’s remote Wyoming ranch home, and now it provides his family the freedom to travel and rodeo. The 7th grader especially enjoys history. He acquired rodeo skills and arena experience competing in the Belle Jackpot Association, Sturgis Youth Rodeo Series, Northern Hills and Badlands Little Britches Rodeos, Wyoming Junior Rodeo Association and American Junior Rodeo Association events. The cowboy’s first event, at 5, was breakaway roping; he says, “I added goat tying when I was 6.”

The 2019 American Junior Rodeo Association (AJRA) Finals at Sweetwater, Texas in July offered Ace and Popcorn another place to excel this year. They earned the reserve champion berth in Ribbon Roping, Breakaway and Double Mugging, plus 3rd in Tiedown, on their way to claiming Reserve Champion All Around.

Ace goes to Vegas ranked 5th in Chris Neal’s Vegas Stars roping, culminating an open series held at Guthrie, OK, Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. Age requirements differ there, so he will rope in 15-and-under Tiedown.

To Ace’s way of thinking, the best thing about his Vegas experience will be “The money!” Mike Johnson’s event pays the most. I will use my winnings to cover expenses, then keep the rest for entry fees,” he explains.

Riding into any arena, anywhere, Ace knows he’s well-mounted. “I’m so grateful Dane Kissack gave me the opportunity to buy Popcorn three years ago,” he declares. “I really want to thank him!”

Ace’s appreciation is sincere, and widespread. “I want to thank my grandparents Rick & Colleen Popham and Lenard &Teresa Seeley; plus Don and Ed Eddleman, Troy Pruitt and Chase Williams,” Ace emphasizes.

Some of them might even be in Vegas to cheer him on….

Ace Reese, his brother Denton, mom Cody Seeley Reese and dad Carey Reese, moved in July 2018 from Lone Tree Ranch southwest of Upton, WY to their present home near Aquilla, TX, just southwest of Hillsboro. The family horses went along, as well as an avid affinity for rodeo.

Since the 1940s the Sundance, Wyoming region has known his Seeley family predecessors as breeders of speed and performance in the AQHA.

His dad’s Smith bloodlines raised registered Hereford Cattle and great working horses. They’re good neighbors, hardworking, and always moving agriculture, positive directions. A fifth-generation predecessor was Wyoming Governor, and at least five generations have preceded Ace into rodeo arenas.

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