Meet the Member Payton Barnes

by Rodeo News

story by Lindsay King

It’s the middle of the junior high season, and the sting of losing her top hand was still fresh. Payton Barnes saddled up her home-grown three-year-old, Bunny, and finished out her season in both breakaway and ribbon roping after her more seasoned mount passed away. “It was pretty difficult to start over on her. She wasn’t seasoned, we were roping on her in the practice pen a bunch, but she had never been to a rodeo before. She did better than I did at our first rodeo together, I was the nervous one,” said the 13-year-old. The mare was born on Easter and continues to be Payton’s top mount in the calf events. On the team roping side of things, Payton swings a leg over Fish. “In the summer he has a spot on his side that looks a fish tail. He makes it easy for me. He just gets me up there and puts me in my spot, he’s easy to ride.”
Payton really enjoys the team aspect of rodeo, which is why team roping is her favorite event. “I like getting to help my partners out. And I like that every run and every steer is different.” In the ribbon roping, Payton stays mounted while her partner, Brody Thessen, bolts for the ribbon. When it comes to roping calves, Payton can hang with the best of ‘em. Even when it means she has to tie their legs. “My favorite accomplishment so far was being reserve champion in the tie-down roping in 2018 in the Heart of Oklahoma Youth Rodeo Association.” She’s currently leading the standings in the event.
Speed might not be a consistent family trait, but horsemanship certainly is. The granddaughter of a western pleasure trainer, Payton isn’t too keen on going slow. “I used to show western pleasure when I was younger, but I don’t anymore. I still help my grandpa work some of his horses.” Her mom, Wendy, pens and sorts while her dad, Billy, is an avid team roper. “Horses and rodeo just kind of comes naturally. It’s in the family. The first time I ever roped off a horse I was only about 6 or 7.” Payton was actually riding before she was even born. “My mom won two world championships at the Pinto World Show when she was pregnant with me.” Payton states this fact with almost as much gusto as “I always have a rope in my hand, I’ve never wanted to do anything but rodeo.”
Born into a family of horseman and women means Payton has plenty of people to seek advice from when she gets stuck. One of her favorites is Taylor Munsell, her cousin. “Taylor ropes really well and she has won a lot. I send her all my videos and she gives me advice on them.” Although Payton doesn’t get to see her cousin much, she’s in almost constant communication with her. “Everyone in my family either shows horses or rodeos, it’s awesome. I always have somebody out there riding or roping with me, helping me with my horses.” Despite her love for all things rodeo and horses, cleaning stalls still isn’t something Payton has found herself enjoying.
In her final year with the OKJHSRA, Payton has her sights set on a trip to nationals. “I’m just working towards catching all my steers and calves. I can’t let my head get to me, because when I get nervous I lose my focus.” Learning to calm her nerves before and during a run has proven difficult but not impossible for Payton. “I have to be in my littlezone before I go rope. I put myself in a corner and just play with my rope while I think about my run.” It’s perhaps this routine that has made the biggest improvement in performance for this team Wrangler competitor.

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

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