Meet the Member Garrett Sanders

by Lacey Stevens

story by Lily Weinacht

Garrett Sanders from Tucson, Arizona, is the fifth generation of his family to rodeo, learning to rope and train horses from his dad and grandpa. The Sanders have a small horse training facility at their home outside of Tucson, where 31-year-old Garrett and his younger brothers and sisters learned their horsemanship and rodeo skills from their family. “My mom has been my biggest confidence builder, motivator, and fan my whole life,” says Garrett, who started competing in the AJRA when he was eight. Today, he is a team roper in the GCPRA. “Rodeo is tradition! I’m a foreman on a gas pipeline during the week, which pays the bills and fees, but rodeo is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I started trying to ride steers when I was nine or ten, and I was getting hurt a lot. My dad told me to make a decision and pick either steers or roping. Team roping was what I was always better at.”
Garrett joined the GCPRA in 2011, several years after returning to the rodeo world. When he turned 14, he started playing football and other school sports, hanging up his rope until he was 21. “I was in college and went to a jackpot, and I got the itch to get back into rodeoing and training horses again. It was like riding a bicycle – I made a nice and easy transition back into it.” Primarily a heeler, Garrett entered World Series of Team Roping and USTRC events, later rodeoing on the PRCA Turquoise and Prairie Circuits.
He started his professional rodeo career while living in Oklahoma and working for stock contractor Bennie Beutler of Beutler & Son Rodeo Company. One of Garrett’s friends drove truck for Bennie, who hired Garrett to drive, train saddle horses, and work the bucking stock on the ranch. After he moved back to Arizona, Garrett started roping with his brother Austin, who is a senior competing in the AHSRA. “We take turns heading and heeling for each other. Austin is a pretty decorated roper – he’s gone to the NHSFR a few times, and he ropes with me in the Grand Canyon rodeos,” says Garrett. “My best friend, Anthony Calmelat, is a #10 heeler, and his uncle Michael Calmelat and all their family are amazing. We go over and rope with them a lot, and they give me pointers. With Anthony being a #10 heeler, I’m always looking to compete with him and be at his level. That helps with the mental game.”
Garrett’s family has long trained their own rope horses, starting with prospects and training the horses themselves. Garrett’s main rope horse is a mare, Striker, who came from Travis Ericcson, another fifth generation cowboy and roper. “I started Striker on roping, and if I’m not roping, I do a lot of cowboy work with my buddies for ranches around Arizona. She’s really good about getting through the mountains and rough terrain.”
Another Sanders family tradition is working for a gas pipeline company, where Garrett is a foreman. His grandpa recently retired from the business, and his dad is the supervisor. Garrett has also started a horse training business, M/G Performance Horses, with his girlfriend, Madi Nash, who has ridden a variety of disciplines. “She has experience getting horses really broke, and then I get them broke on the rodeo side,” he explains. “We met about six months ago at a GCPRA rodeo in Benson, Arizona. Madi and her family are strong in their faith, and I’ve been building my relationship with God more than ever lately.”
Garrett has made the GCPRA finals several times in the open and incentive team roping, and aims to qualify again this year. “I’d also like to take in more outside horses and get nice horses out there under mine and my girlfriend’s name. And I’ve been buying cows right and left and getting a little ranch going,” Garrett finishes. “I’d like to thank the Detty family with Pro Orthopedics – they’re amazing folks and they have really good equine performance boots – and Oxbow Tack in McAlister, Oklahoma. Between those two sponsors they keep my horses safe and looking good.”

© Rodeo Life Media Corporation | All Rights Reserved • Laramie, Wyoming • 307.761.9053

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