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Local cowboy finds success first year on the rodeo circuit

Keegan Elder is cleaning up in his first year as a bareback bronc rider.
Photo/ Mark Elder- Jasper’s Studio. Submitted/ Keegan Elder.

Like many people during the pandemic, 25-year-old Keegan Elder picked up a new activity to dedicate his time to mastering, unlike most people—Elder’s choice of sport has him hanging onto the back of an animal weighing in at over 1,000 lbs for dear life.

Elder’s first year on the rodeo circuit as a bareback bronc event rider has him riding a high. In the past two months of competing nearly every weekend, the local cowboy has won first or second place at most of the rodeos.

Just this past weekend, Elder placed second in bareback riding at the Hardisty rodeo.

Growing up in Wetaskiwin Elder says that he has always been around horses, so transitioning to a sport involving the animals wasn’t as daunting as one might think. In addition to his comfort with horses, Elder says that a major part of him getting involved in the sport was support from his friend and rodeo mentor, Jake Vold.

“The learning curve of riding bareback horses is insane,” says Elder. “I am fortunate enough to have help from a friend and extremely accomplished bareback rider himself, Jake Vold. Jake has helped me out immensely in so many different ways, even when I’m pretty sure that I’m driving him nuts he continues to coach me through things.”

“He has more or less taught me everything I know about the sport.”

Elder says that the learning curve for bareback wasn’t easy, “for me it was definitely not smooth sailing from the start.”

He adds to be successful, consistent training is a must.

“Training is extremely important, being in extremely good physical and mental shape are a must in bareback riding. It truly is man against beast!”

However, being man against beast is part of the thrill that makes the ride so exhilarating.

“My favourite part about bareback riding is the feeling you get after you make a solid ride. There is no other feeling like hanging onto the back of a 1,200 pound bucking horse and spurring for those eight seconds!”

Elder is excited about his success so far in the rodeo world and hopes to apply for his pro-rodeo card next year. He definitely sees rodeo being a big part of his future.

Like most rodeo athletes, Elder says that a major contributing factor to loving the sport is the rodeo atmosphere. From the other cowboys competing to the crowd cheering you on and more, the energy pulls you in.

“Obviously, everyone is there to compete and win for themselves and represent their sponsors, but you will find some of the best people there willing to help you out in a blink of an eye with no questions asked,” says Elder.

“Your biggest fans are usually the guys you’re competing against. They are the ones standing behind the chutes yelling the loudest and helping each other out before, during, and after their rides.”

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Elder competing at the Hardisty Rodeo the weekend of July 17-18, 2021. Photo/ Mark Elder- Jasper’s Studio. Submitted/ Keegan Elder.