Ford brothers qualify for jr. tour circuit finals
In the past few years, with declining numbers of up and coming rough stock riders, rodeo producers and contractors have had to brain storm new ways to interest youth in the events. The National Junior High School Rodeo Association began offering both saddle bronc and bareback riding with a twist, that being that the kids rode steers with their bronc saddles and bareback riggings. It caught on.
Page forward a bit more and some contractors started putting on rough stock rodeos using ponies and mini bulls. One of those contractors is Lazy 3S Rodeo Company out of Ft. Pierre, S.D. who will put on the “Buckin’ To Vegas High Plains Circuit Finals Junior Tour, September 29, in Ft. Pierre, S.D. The Buckin’ To Vegas Jr. Roughstock World Finals, aka Jr. NFR, will be December 4-10 in Las Vegas, Nev., with four divisions, ages 6-17.
Two Sturgis, South Dakota, cowboys are heading to that finals in Ft. Pierre, hoping to qualify for Las Vegas. Jackson Ford, 14, and his brother Kashton Ford, 13, had great success their first year competing in the minis, with Jackson being the season high point winner in the 12-14 mini saddle broncs, while Kashton is runner up high point in the 12-14 mini barebacks.
The two teenagers aren’t just arena hands though, as they have been riding colts and ponies for quite a while and are known in the area as Ford Boyz Horse Training. They train under the tutelage of their Dad, Joe Ford, Jr., who has been in the colt starting and training business for many years.
“I didn’t push them into this at all. They’ve been riding ponies and colts since they got big enough to ride,” says Joe. “This year they wanted to do the Jr. High rodeos with the steers and they’d ridden steers in 4-H. They both qualified for state in the steer broncs and steer barebacks.”
“I kind of wanted them to go toward cutting and reining, but I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree and they wanted to do rough stock,” explains Joe, who rode barebacks through 4-H, high school (1995 S.D. state champion), NIRA, CNFR qualifier, and PRCA Badlands Circuit qualifier in his rodeo days.
When Jackson and Kashton heard about the mini broncs, they wanted to do them, so their folks made that possible. Their Mom, Marsha Ford, says “It was a little nerve wracking at first, but the ponies and steers aren’t like getting on the big horses. I just say a prayer before they ride and ask God to protect them!”
Marsha especially appreciates that Rory Lemmel and Travis Clark let the boys ride the bucking machine and get on some practice stock. Marsha says “That’s just the way the rodeo family is. They help others. It really makes me feel good to see my own boys helping the littler kids get on their sheep and calves at the rodeos.”
Jackson Ford, a freshman this year, is pretty excited about making the trip to Ft. Pierre. “I think it’s a cool opportunity to get on the ponies before getting on the bigger horses, and the chance to go to the circuit finals and maybe Vegas is really neat.” he says. “We went to some schools. The first one was Broncs, Bulls and Bibles in Miles City, Mont., where we got to work with Chase Brooks, and Tyrel Smith, Cole Elshere. We’ll be going back to that camp again in November.”
“We also went to a chute doggin’ camp back in March. I’d sure like to get into the steer wrestling.” says Jackson. Jackson prefers the saddle broncs, but clearly aspires to be an all around hand, as does his brother Kashton.
“I like barebacks. I just like it better,” says Kashton, “My Dad rode them too. I also look up to Tim O’Connell and Richmond Champion, and Jess Lockwood , though he’s a bullrider. He’s a nice guy.” Kashton also aspires to be a steer wrestler.
These boys are also involved in school sports. They both wrestle and have played football, though they bowed out of the football this year due to wanting to focus on the mini broncs and barebacks, go to the school in Miles City, and make every effort to get to the Jr. NFR.
When asked about the pony and colt training, Jackson says “I think we started training ponies for younger kids when we were 10 or a little younger. Then we bought our own two colts when I was 11 and Kashton was 10. We’ve done all the training on them with Dad’s help. They’re both good horses and we’re hoping to get them roping and steer wrestling too.”
“I’m pretty proud of them,” says Marsha. “They’re good boys who are working hard toward their goals. They’re good students too.”
Big dreams make young men stay focused, and these two cowboys have plenty of that. They’ve set goals and worked their way to achieving them, whether it’s starting colts or riding roughstock. With the support of their parents and the rodeo community, the sky is the limit.
Parents sacrifice a lot for their kids and the Fords are no exception. They are at a rodeo nearly every weekend, plus get the boys to the rodeo schools and workshops that they can. Qualifying for the Jr. NFR is a goal for all of them, but the reality of going there is on their minds. They are hoping to find some sponsors to help them with the trip, so that the two boys can focus on their events and not have to worry about how to get there.
If you would be interested in a sponsorship, with your logo on their shirts or vests, or just privately, contact Joe or Marsha. (Joe 605-641-1238 or Marsha 605-490-8448)