story by Ruth Nicolaus Shylene Drumm is a five-time Colorado Junior High School Rodeo champion. This year, she won the pole bending, breakaway roping, goat […]
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Meet the Member Leo Veatch
story by Lily Weinacht
“I just really enjoy that I get to ride and rope, and shoot now, and I get to be around kids doing the same things as me,” says 13-year-old Leo Veatch. The cowboy hails from Agate, Colorado, and is competing in the CJHSRA for the second season. Leo, a third-generation rodeo competitor, has always loved to rope and ride, and when he learned that the CJHSRA had rifle shooting, he was quick to join the association in the fall of 2016. He qualified for the NJHFR in the rifle shooting and finished just a few places outside of the top 20 last summer. “I really enjoyed the competition and the shooting range, and the dances,” says Leo. He enters the 50 meter and shoots from three positions—prone, standing, and kneeling—while the Veatch family’s indoor barn does double duty as an arena and a shooting range. “We put a round bale in the heading box and we shoot from the other end of the arena,” explains Leo, who uses a .22 CZ 452 rifle. “It’s really accurate, and I practice as much as I can. I also joined the junior program of the National Training Center Shooting Club at the Olympic Training Center, which we just started doing this winter. I go down there (to Colorado Springs) twice a week to practice.”
Leo is leading the rifle shoot in the CJHSRA, and sitting in the top ten in breakaway roping and goat tying, while he also team ropes with header Harley Baas. The junior high rodeo in Cortez, Colorado, is a favorite since he won the rifle shoot there last fall with a score of 300, the highest score of the weekend in both the junior high and high school shooting divisions. When he’s not practicing his shooting, Leo ropes several nights a week with his parents, Casey and Carrie Veatch, who both rodeoed for Colorado in their teens and continue to compete. Leo’s 8-year-old sister, Dot, does goat tying at gymkhanas and enjoys shooting as well, a family tradition started by their grandpa Dale Purdy. “I look up to my mom and my dad and my whole family,” says Leo. “They help me practice and support me through all this, and haul me to all these rodeos. It’s just really inspirational.”
The Veatchs live on a cattle ranch, where Leo helps his grandpa with his cow/calf operation. “Right now we’re pulling calves and calving, and we haul hay and check cattle and brand.” Leo enjoys riding on the ranch, along with practicing on his 18-year-old breakaway and goat tying horse, Nay Nay, and his 18-year-old heel horse, Babe. “We’re out in the country quite a ways, and I can hunt and shoot and rodeo. I really like it.” Duck and goose hunting are part of Leo’s love of the rural lifestyle, and he says the game is best cooked wrapped in bacon and cream cheese.
It’s a 25-minute drive to Limon Middle School, where Leo is a seventh-grade student. He works hard to maintain his 4.0 GPA, and especially enjoys history and math. “I like United States history, but this year we’re doing world history. In math, we’re doing different angles and shapes for geometry.” Leo also played basketball this winter, and he loves competing on the school’s seventh grade Knowledge Bowl team, which competes against other teams in the state through rounds of written and oral questions on a variety of topics.
Along with rodeo and school, Leo is passionate about church and hopes to be a pastor someday. He acolytes at his church, lighting the candles on the altar, and enjoys taking part in Cowboy Church during rodeo season. “I’d like to get back to the Junior High Nationals because that was really fun last year,” he finishes, “and I’d like to get in the top 20 of rifle shoot.”