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Young bucks rodeo across continent

EIRA 01
Jobe Johns, left, watches as Logan Hyatt dismounts his horse to wrestle a steer Sept. 26 during the Eastern Indian Rodeo Association regional finals at the Fred Smith Rodeo Arena in Brighton.

Young rodeo riders Kelton Smedley, Jobe Johns and Logan Hyatt lived the cowboy life out West this summer while competing on the rodeo circuit. Kelton traveled on his own, while Jobe and Logan traveled with Jobe’s mother, Tara Johns.

A bull rider, Kelton, 18, spent about a month exploring Montana and South Dakota rodeos with his girlfriend, Kayla McMann. The trip was worth his while; he won several rodeos and made money.

“It was the first time I was alone on the road,” he said. “It was amazing. I saw a bunch of mountains and animals. In Oregon I shot a buck.”

Kelton plans for a life in the rodeo and already spends every weekend competing regionally in the Eastern Indian Rodeo Association (EIRA), Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and Southern States Bull Riders rodeos. Kelton said there is one thing harder than getting on a 1,200-pound bull and hanging on for eight seconds: driving long hours to travel to the next rodeo. But he loves meeting people, seeing new places and competing.

“I ain’t the best, but I ain’t gonna say I’m the worst,” he said. “Everyone has their ups and downs.”

This season Kelton was the best EIRA bull rider, which earned him a spot at the INFR in Las Vegas. Jobe and Logan were tops in their EIRA categories and will also compete in the INFR: Jobe in calf roping and team roping and Logan in steer wrestling.

Jobe, 17, competed in INFR as a child, but this is the first time he will battle adults.

“I’m excited, anxious and ready to get there,” he said. “I’ve got just as much of a chance to win as anybody.”

It will be Logan’s first trip to INFR, but because he spent the summer competing at rodeos, he feels confident he can perform well against the competition.

Jobe and Logan, 18, met at a junior rodeo several years ago and became fast friends; they even live together with Jobe’s family in Brighton, where they are home-schooled seniors.

“Logan’s like a brother,” Jobe said. “When we met, he broke his arm so I put out a tip jar to help pay for his arm. He gave the money back to every person who donated. We’ve been good friends since then.”

Their summer sojourn across the country and into Canada was epic, the boys said. They covered 9,000 miles in 70 days and competed in about 15 rodeos, including eight Indian rodeos in Canada, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oklahoma, California and South Dakota. Tara Johns drove the RV, which hauled a trailer with four horses and measured 67 feet.

“It was a great opportunity,” said Logan, a member of the Muskogee (Creek) Tribe. “Not many kids get to do something like this.”

Although the road trip was long and hard, Jobe said the best part of the trip was winning. He and Logan both won several events. Jobe said he earned money but that staying motivated was his big challenge. He credited Logan with helping him stay focused.

Logan said he enjoyed meeting new people and appreciated the change of scenery.

“But I missed home,” he said. “I didn’t mind being on the road, but there’s nothing like being in your own bed at home.”

 

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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