Meet the Member Rylan Wildeman

by Rodeo News
Two cowboys on horseback participating in a team roping event, successfully lassoing a steer.

story by Linsday Humphrey

Making the decision to commit to rodeo as a high school sophomore has forever changed Rylan Wildeman’s life for the better. “It’s probably one of the biggest and most time altering decisions I’ve made in my life so far,” said the 18-year-old from Norton, Kansas. “I would go back and make the decision ten times over if I could. I’d even start when I was in sixth grade because I think I could’ve been a lot further along skill wise than I am now.” Even though Rylan grew up around team roping, rodeo wasn’t ever at the forefront of his mind. It was all jackpotting and roping at home until Rylan saw what the KHSRA was all about firsthand. “My cousins were always part of the association and after we watched them compete one weekend, I decided I wanted to try it and I fell in love with it.”
A tried-and-true team roper, Rylan heels behind freshman Degnan Boggs in the KHSRA this season. “I like the team aspect of the event, how you have to work together with someone else to get the job done. There isn’t really another event out there, except for ribbon roping, that relies on that team component.” Horses have been part of Rylan’s life ever since he was 6 years old and first learned how to rope and ride. “All my exposure to roping came from my dad (Jamie) going to jackpots and a few rodeos. But I’ve always ridden horses and started showing them in 4-H and FFA every year that I could.” Most of Rylan’s show career has been at the county fair level, but he appreciates the horsemanship that he’s inevitably gained through it.
In fact, that was where Rylan spent a lot of his time bonding with the first, albeit most influential, horse of his life. “Fanny was the first horse that I ever called mine as a kid. She taught me how to rope and ride. She’ll always have a special place in my heart.” Today, Fanny is living the good life with family friends who have kids of their own who need a horse to teach them the ropes. Now primarily a heeler, Rylan competes on 15-year-old Delilah. She might be short strided, but she’s a heck of a heel horse. “She’s a pretty small horse and not all that fun to just ride around, but I do love her. I haven’t had her long, but we’ve always clicked.”
Starting out in the fall, Rylan had high hopes for his final KHSRA season. Everything that could go wrong in the roping pen, did for Rylan and Degnan. They corrected a few things over the winter break and got off on a better foot in the spring. “We’re trying to get something done so we can at least make it back to state finals.” Regardless of how the standings turn out, Rylan has loved his time with the KHSRA. “I’ve made lifelong friends and memories that are unmatched, and I’ll never forget any of them. It’s such a tight-knit community that has felt like a giant family.” As a high school senior at Norton Community High School, Rylan won’t miss the long drives that high school rodeo required. “We don’t live in the most convenient spot, so the drives are at least three hours for every rodeo. That’s been the hardest part about rodeo for me.”
It’s very likely that the next season of life will be even more difficult for Rylan in relation to rodeo. “I’m going to University of Kansas this fall to study Chemistry and they don’t have a rodeo team, so I won’t be roping unless I’m back home.” Rylan’s always enjoyed and excelled at science, but when he got into a chemistry class he knew it could easily relate to his future career. “I wanted to do something medical, but I also wanted to have time to myself along with a 9-5 job and pharmacy fit right in there.” While his rodeo career might be hitting a pause, Rylan knows it will always be an important part of his past and will likely make it part of his future as well.

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

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