Berger named high school rodeo president |

Berger named high school rodeo president

Gillette, Wyoming cowboy Kaden Berger wound up eighth place at the National High School Rodeo Finals on a borrowed horse after his died unexpectedly days before the competition. Photo courtesy Kaden Berger

Losing a favorite horse and being elected to lead a prestigious organization all in a matter of days provided some serious emotional highs and lows for Kaden Berger earlier this month.

Several months ago at the mid-winter National High School Rodeo Association Convention in Denver, Kaden Berger spoke with the outgoing national president Mel Hasler. “She was telling me all the cool things about the office. I learned it’s a big opportunity, and there are great people to work with.

“I went home and told my Mom, and we talked it over. I kind of forgot about it then, but about halfway through our [state] high school rodeo, Mom printed out the information about it. She got me stickers and wristbands and stuff, so I wrote my speech,” Kaden says. “The meeting and her encouragement are kind of the reason I did it.”

Representing his home state is important to Kaden. “Wyoming isn’t really at the top of the popularity list among states at the Finals, because people from the distant states usually don’t know much about us,” he notes. “This will give me a great opportunity to meet new people, not only to introduce them to the special things about my state, but also to learn more about the association and represent the student members and contestants.”

Stepping into the role of President in a huge international rodeo association is no casual undertaking. Kaden says, “Honestly I’m not sure what to expect yet. I know what my responsibilities are, but know I will have to learn as we go along.”

Being elected by that huge student body was the big “up” of Kaden’s 2019 National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR). He was destined to contrast that against possibly the biggest “down” of his rodeo life thus far — the completely unexpected death of his bulldogging horse.

Kaden told us, “I tie down rope, and heel in team roping, but bulldogging is my favorite event for sure. Actually, the first time I ever bulldogged was last August at a Todd Suhn clinic, and I knew right away that was what I really wanted to do! I liked the way Todd instructed to help you use your own strong points and abilities, and not really try to make you over. He can help all bulldoggers, without changing their own style. I was ready to work hard at it, which is good ‘cause I’m not one of the biggest kids. I’ve had to learn to do things right to even qualify for Nationals as a Junior.”

“This horse, I bought him just days before the high school rodeo last year. Even on our first steer, we clicked right away; he was honest and true. He took care of me and I couldn’t ask for a better horse. So, we went to loafin’ around the night before national’s, and he had a heart attack and fell down right beneath me!”

What does a Wyoming cowboy do in a case like that? Kaden says, “I called my Dad.

“We jumped two steers on a horse we had down in Saratoga and Dad let me go,” Kaden explains. “We practiced the day before I was up, and my attitude wasn’t very good,” he continues. “But after that, I just sat down with my mom and said, ‘I’m gonna make the most out of tonight.’”

After taking that first leap, other things began to happen on Kaden’s behalf. “Just before we left to go down there my good buddy told me everything happens for a reason.” Berger said Danny Goold had a solid bulldogging horse, and a match was made.

Goold, who ropes calves and bulldogs, graduated this spring and hopes to continue his education at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne this fall. He told us, “I wanted to help our state,” he said. His horse, ‘Boss’ 18, is registered, and comes from Texas. years “He really knows his job. He knows what to do, but you gotta ask it out of him; and Kaden did that.” Berger ended up in eighth place in the nation.

Beyond recovering from the loss of a special horse and adjusting to his NHSRA office, Kaden is about to enter his final year of high school. “I’ve been going to Campbell County High School, but I plan to try online school through Western Christian Academy this fall,” he says. “Quite a few of my friends have done it and told me about it. I don’t have a whole lot of credits to finish, either.”

As for college, Kaden has talked to a few rodeo coaches – a couple in Texas, and Drew Shrock at Riverton. “Drew actually came and watched my speech for the presidency,” Kaden says.

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