A national-champion bareback rider is thinking about switching rodeo events.
And he’s only 8 years old.
“I want to start getting into saddle bronc, but right now I’m mostly interested in bareback,” said Kash Loyd of Burleson, winner of the 8-and-under bareback competition at December’s Junior National Finals Rodeo.
Young Kash has benefited from his dad’s 13 years in a sport that puts cowboys atop unsaddled and high-spirited horses. But the buckaroo also gets a little help from other pros, as was the case Sunday at the annual Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo Camp.
“These kids are learning the basics, and how to be safe doing it,” said Kevin Loyd, Kash’s dad.
Loyd helped out Sunday by taking turns with other parents who vigorously worked the Mighty Broncy machine.
Other training stations included homemade drop barrels (that mimicked the leaping gyrations of broncs and bulls), spurboards (where students could lean back and rake their heels against rawhide to develop muscle memory) and the Quad Bronc (a complex machine that bucks harder the faster it’s pulled behind an ATV).
I like being able to work with the future of our sport and giving these kids the knowledge they need to succeed.
Jerod Johnston, Weatherford bareback rider
“This is the first Rodeo Camp of 2017,” said Julie Jutten, a spokeswoman with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. “We’ll do 20 of them this year all over the country.”
Several relatives and other supporters watched from the stands as a handful of rodeo professionals instructed about two dozen young people — from high-school rodeo athletes to grammar-school greenhorns — in the art of staying on bucking horses and bulls for 8 seconds at a time.
“I know all these guys,” Loyd said. “If we need something or have questions, we can hook up with them anytime.”
Those connections are important, Kash said, and on Sunday, he was learning from 20-year veteran bareback rider Jerod Johnston of Weatherford, who believes teaching the sport is almost as satisfying as competing.
“I like being able to work with the future of our sport and giving these kids the knowledge they need to succeed,” Johnston said. “We’re teaching them to succeed not only in the sport of rodeo, but in each individual event.”
My oldest son is into bareback. It kind of worries me when he gets hurt. But then it’s like ‘Are you bleeding? No? Then, you’re OK.’
Holly Kampmeier, mother of young cowboys
Having one-on-one time with professionals “also gives them confidence,” Johnston said. But more importantly, the earlier in rodeo athletes’ careers that they are trained by professionals, the better chance they’ll have of avoiding injuries.
The possibility of injuries kind of bothers Holly Kampmeier, a Lampasas High School basketball coach who likes to follow her bull-riding-veteran husband, Sean Kampmeier, when he teaches. Though her husband no longer competes, her sons, Royce, 9, and Nolan, 5, already are cowboys.
“My oldest son is into bareback,” she said. “It kind of worries me when he gets hurt. But then it’s like, ‘Are you bleeding? No? Then, you’re OK.’ ”
Despite her comparably small size, Holly Kampmeier took turns Sunday on a drop barrel’s mechanism — pumping like it was a railroad handcar on a steep grade — as her husband shouted instructions and encouragement to a rider.
“These guys love the sport and love passing it on to the next generation,” she said.