“The way to ride a bull is different than the way to hang on to a bull,” said 3x Linderman recipient, and 3x WNFR qualifier, […]
Written by: Lily Landreth< Back to Articles
Roughstock. Flank straps. Quick thinking sharpened by adrenaline and put to the test at all speeds. This is the world of 22-year-old Dalton Ward, a pickup man for Harry Vold Rodeo Company, and the son of Billy Ward, seven-time WNFR pickup man. While it is no coincidence that Dalton is following in his father’s bootprints, the cowboy from LaGrange, Wyo. admits that being a pickup man wasn’t always his dream career. He grew up wanting to be a stock contractor, but had his first taste of picking up at a kid day rodeo in Odessa, Texas, when he was 12. “When I first did it, I didn’t like it all that well. It was fast, and to this day I don’t ever remember tripping a flank. I’d sit out there with my dad and that was it. Being 12 years old, I was just trying to save my own life, let alone someone else’s!”
Dalton mainly worked college and ranch rodeos with his dad for the next six years. His mom, Marlo Ward, says, “Dalton was about 16 when he developed more of an interest in picking up with his dad. He’s always been so big and strong, and when everything came together, he was pretty efficient and got more comfortable with it. He’s always had a very strong work ethic – you could almost say he was born working! He and I used to travel to Billy’s rodeos together, and even before he could form many words he would talk to me for hours. He was always taking care of me.” Dalton and his younger brother, Denton, were paid five dollars a performance by their dad to do the bulk of the horse care, which Dalton continued to do until he was about 17. When they were younger, the boys brought out their play animals and semi trucks and played stock contractors. One Halloween, when the Wards were camped at a rodeo, Dalton and Denton borrowed a bareback rigging and a bronc saddle and rode their horses from trailer to trailer dressed as roughstock riders. They were given everything from chewing gum and cans of soup, to TV dinners and DVDs.
Between helping their dad on the ranch and hauling with him to rodeos, Dalton and Denton were missing a lot of school. So their mom started homeschooling them. “It was a real good deal for us. A lot of people said that I didn’t have any friends, and I said I had a lot of friends in the rodeo world! I grew up around a lot of life lessons in rodeo. I think that contributes to who I am today.” Another influence in Dalton’s life is his parents. “The greatest thing about my dad was he always made his own horses – he’d trade them and make a pickup horse. My mom is always behind the scenes, but she’s the anchor. From my faith in Christ to my education, nothing would have happened without her.”
Full story available in the June 15th edition.