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Travis and Hank Bounds- CPRA
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Travis and Hank Bounds
story by Magie Downare-Nevius
The Bounds brothers, Hank and Travis, are standout team ropers within the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association (CPRA). While Hank is currently working his first year as the team roping director on the heading end, Travis is headed into the finals seated third in the standings. “Rodeo has influenced our lives by bringing the two of us closer together. It’s a passion that we share in both roping and horses,” said Hank.
Team roping is far more than a passion for the Bounds brothers, but is a part of their lifestyles. Having grown up around the event, as their dad (Mike) competes on both ends, the pair have had a rope in their hands since they were old enough to walk and were riding horses with their dad even before then. Along with their sisters (Jennifer and Jill), junior rodeos and the National Little Britches Rodeo Association became the first step toward their careers. “Mom and Dad bent over backwards to make sure that we were mounted and could go,” said Hank. “We are very blessed with great family support, which is crucial in rodeo.” Even though their sisters put their own competitiveness aside to raise their families, they continue to be involved through their own children who compete. Although their mom (Brenda) is not a rodeo athlete, Travis describes her as being one of their biggest advocates. “She is a huge supporter. She has always been there to push us and wants us to do good, while putting us first above anything else,” he said. “All around, though, it’s great to have a family that backs us.”
Travis, 29, has been a member of the CPRA since 2003, when he was crowned the Rookie of the Year on the heeling end. “It’s a great association with good people; the secretaries are nice, the committees are good to work with, but most of all, it’s all about the cowboys, which is the way it should be,” he said. While Travis had primarily stuck to the heeling box most of his life, he was talked into making the switch to the heading side in 2008 and walked out with his first CPRA year-end title, along with qualifying for his first Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Mountain States Circuit Finals (member since 2003). Since that time, Travis has gone on to qualify for the circuit finals three additional times and won the year-end title last year to qualify for his first RAM National Circuit Finals. He has, also, gone on to win the CPRA year-end title in 2010 and 2013 with partner Wade Kreutzer (2012, 2013 CPRA heeling year-end champion). The duo have teamed up for the past three years, which all started through conversation. “Once we decided to rope together, it just took off and we’ve done pretty good,” said Travis.
Prior to hitting the road, Hank, 33, was originally satisfied with jackpot team roping. It was through Travis’ impact that he decided to join the CPRA in 2005. “I fell in love with it from the get go and it is where you’ll find us almost every weekend,” he said. Working the other end, Hank grew up predominantly heading, but made a change to heeling back in 2003. “I didn’t have a reason, I just did it,” he said. He later joined the PRCA in 2006 and is a four-time circuit finals qualifier. In his first year as the director, Hank says that he has truly enjoyed learning the ropes from behind the scenes. “It’s been a learning experience for sure. I’ve gotten to know all about the thankless jobs that goes into the whole thing,” he said. “The CPRA is completely full of people that volunteer to making a better association, which I’ve gotten to know how much time goes into it. The fact that people are willing to put so much effort into making the sport better is really great.” Starting his reign, Hank had set out to get more people involved through sponsorships and attendance. “Of course more sponsors make for a better finals, but I feel that keeping an open communication with the contestants, communities and board members will help in the long haul. I’ve had some great help in working with Branden Edwards [heeling director] and Chelsie Willhoite [mixed team roping director] to expand on those goals,” he said.
Travis and his wife (Laura) are graded competitors in the mixed team roping with a current position of ninth in the CPRA. “I love the fact that I can travel with my wife to all of the rodeos,” said Travis. The couple celebrated their first anniversary in May and the CPRA is the source of their relationship, having met at the San Miguel Basin Rodeo in Norwood, Colo., seven years ago. “She is the biggest reason of why I’m still able to rodeo. She is so supportive and urges me forward,” he said. Making a home in Grand Junction, Travis has made his living as a farrier for nine years and says that kids are definitely in their future.
On the other hand, Hank and his wife (Ashley) are proof that opposites attract. Ashley is a retired professional snowmobile racer and had very little experience with horses prior to meeting Hank. “We are a very neat combination of two different worlds, but she is very supportive through her own knowledge and experience as a competitor,” he said. The couple were married back in February and have begun meshing each other’s worlds at their home in Grand Junction. “She’s got me riding snowmobiles and I’ve got her riding horses, where she found a passion she didn’t know she had,” he said. “We hope to have her start competing in the future, but it is a slow process, as we are focusing on learning the basics before jumping in.” Hank makes his living with Western Colorado Waste. “I love my job. I work for great people that understand my passion and give me time to compete,” he said. For the past eight years, he has worked in the service part of the oil and gas industry, but the booming production of the field on the opposite side of the Western Slope has caused Hank’s rodeo season to slow down as
he is presently overlooking the servicing of another division in northern Colo. “I realized that we are planning for our future and I needed to take my work more seriously,” he admitted. Because he is unable to hit the road as hard as he would like, Hank generally ropes with partners that are available. “I rope a little bit with everyone, because I’m not going all the time, it’s not fair to commit to a single partner, so within the CPRA I try to find someone that is more on the same work schedule at the time,” he said.
Having two separate lives does not keep the brothers from getting together to rope. While still hitting jackpots, a few rodeos and practicing with their dad, the siblings partnered within the CPRA in 2011 to qualify for the finals and won the average. “The best times in our sport are often found between rodeos. It’s a great family sport, which we are lucky enough to share with each other,” said Hank.
To finish out the season, Travis hopes to have a good finals and get his chance at another year-end title. “I would love to get another title under my belt, but if that doesn’t happen, there is always next year,” he said. Hank would like to wrap up his first season as the director giving it his best. “I set out to put my best foot forward and try. In a volunteer position, it is easy to let responsibilities slip, but there is always something that could be fixed or made better. I just want to make sure to talk to the contestants and with the continued support from Nell Richie [state secretary] and Don Scanga [president] we can keep the communications open to succeed in this,” he said.