Meet the Member Kelton Little

by Rodeo News

story by Lily Weinacht

Kelton Little is the third generation of her family to travel the rodeo trail. Her grandpa especially has a longstanding history with the sport, including winning multiple titles in the PRCA Turquoise Circuit, while 19-year-old Kelton competes in the GCPRA and is a sophomore on the New Mexico State University rodeo team. “I was on a horse when I was about 4, riding around with my grandpa. I’ve never gone a day without planning when to practice or when to feed horses,” says Kelton. “The adrenaline rush and the confidence from everyone else makes it a fun sport to be in, and it’s something I will never not do.”
A barrel racer, breakaway roper, and team roper, Kelton is originally from Queen Creek, Arizona, and started her career in local junior rodeo associations, followed by a year of junior high rodeo and four years in high school rodeo. College rodeo and the people she’s met through it, however, has made a marked difference in her competition, which inspired Kelton to seriously pursue GCPRA rodeos as well. “I have a preference toward breakaway, and Nicole Sweazea has helped me rope since the beginning of the semester and given me some tips and pointers. Working with her a lot has grown my confidence, and with the help of her and her husband, Brice, I really have my horse working good now. I might have a quicker shot, or be able to throw a little farther away or reach out of my comfort zone.”
Kelton’s mom, Cindy Little, and grandparents, Gary and Kathie Little, also play a large role in her rodeo career. “My grandpa has been my number one man—I look up to him more than I do anyone else in the rodeo field. I would go to my grandma and grandpa’s and spend hours in the afternoon roping, and whether I was training a colt or roping the dummy, he was always there. He has such a legacy about him but he’s still super humble, and I just hope one day I can live up to what he has. My mom has helped me a lot too. She’s a single mom, so it was just us getting the trailer and horses ready, and driving, so I look up to her strength and the example she set for me outside of practice.”
Malibu, Kelton’s 7-year-old breakaway and barrel horse, is extra special since Kelton and her grandpa trained the mare together. Kelton also worked with Julie Sproul to turn Malibu into a barrel horse. “Working with Julie, I have gained a lot more knowledge on how a horse should move and feel. Malibu has been an easy horse to train, and with her being so athletic and having so much heart and try, it didn’t take long before she started to win at barrels as well. I think it’s rare to find a horse that puts in 100 percent at practice and at rodeos. I started roping on my grandpa’s head horse and I kind of stole him. He’s a big palomino, and we’re finally figuring each other out. His name is Chevy—my grandpa has always named horses after cars and trucks.”
Beyond rodeo, Kelton is majoring in general business at NMSU and plans to minor in equine science/management as well. Since working with Julie and Shain Sproul, Kelton found how much she loves working with horses full time, and plans to use her degrees to become a horse trainer. She also works for a couple in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on the days she doesn’t have class, helping with a variety of jobs such as riding horses and turning out steers, and enjoys running and hiking in her free time.
“For the Grand Canyon rodeos, I want to make the finals in at least the breakaway, and my goal is to qualify in the seventh position or higher. For college rodeos, my goal is to qualify for the short-go of the college finals. They only take the top three in each event, so that’s something in itself to say you out-roped everyone else.”

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

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