On The Trail with Ky Hamilton

by Siri Stevens

Ky Hamilton grew up in Mackay Queensland, Australia. “I actually grew up in town. My mom (Sharell) and dad (Micheal) had a house in town. My dad’s family lived three and a half hours south on a ranch – so I got to do cowboy stuff on the school holidays and stay with them. It was great.” Ky’s time in town was spent playing rugby and racing motocross with his brother, L’Koi. He also spent time watching PBR on TV. His dad drives a garbage truck, and his mom is a teacher’s aide. He rodeoed in America for the first time at the Junior High School Finals in Des Moines, Iowa, when he was 15.

“I was always interested in bull riding,” admits the 20-year-old sophomore at Sul Ross University. “I bugged my dad enough to let me do it. I started riding steers when I was 12.” Ky and his dad did a lot of traveling chasing down the rodeos – from one to three hours for one rodeo. “He drove me everywhere- it was always me and dad on the road.”


Dad, Ky, Jason Hetherington (former Australian rugby league player) - 2012 Young Guns Pony Riding Champion, Great Western Hotel, Rockhampton - courtesy
Ky at the Cassia County Fair & Rodeo in Burley Idaho, August 22, 2020 - Western Edge Photography
Ky & L’Koi- 2002 Mavericks Western Wear, Rockhampton

His determination to make it to the number one spot in the PRCA was instilled by his father. “This isn’t a sport that you can be half-hearted in – you’ve got to be 100% or it isn’t going to happen.” He learned the technique from his dad and Troy Dunn (1998 PRB Champion – only Australian). “He helped me out when I was 15 and he took me a lot further in it.” When Ky turned 18, he started doing the PBR in Australia. “I did that for about six months and then moved here.”

“I always wanted to ride bulls professionally from the states and win a world title. I thought college was a great way to get started. CJ got a hold of me and offered me a scholarship and it’s opened a lot of doors for me.” He compares the caliber of the bulls here to those in Australia. “The bulls are definitely a big difference. I’d say 6 out of 10 at home are good, here it’s 9 out of ten. Over here there are so many events to go to and the money is bigger. I didn’t get to ride as much in competition at home as over here.” He admits to missing his family and not much else. He hasn’t been home since he came over two years ago. “My parents have come over here.”

“He is probably one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached in 14 years,” said CJ Aragon, his coach at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. “He’s a really good student in the classroom and the arena. Everything he does is at a high level.” CJ shares Ky’s workout routine at the University. “He goes to CrossFit at 5:30, and then runs up the hill – the hill behind campus is a mile and a half up to the top – basically the equivalent of 50 flights of stairs. We’ve gotten to where we can do it in 9 minutes to the top.” After the hill, Ky goes to the gym with the steer wrestlers and then he goes to classes. “If he is heading out to rodeos, he turns his work in early and stays on top of it.” One of his classes is with CJ – Event management and Planning. “He’s one of those students that is coachable. He wants to be good and he’ll work really hard at it. On the dash of his truck is a book – Mind Gym – and he’s read it a few times.”


Bull riding with daddy, 2002 - courtesy
Buckle cabinet Ky made in Yr10 at high school (2015) - courtesy

Whenever his travels take him close, he stays with Cody Lambert, who qualified for the National Finals Rodeo nine times between 1981 and 1993, consisting of seven trips in bull riding and three trips in saddle bronc riding. In 1992, he was one of 20 bull riders who helped establish the PBR; he’s been selecting bulls for the organization’s events ever since. “He’s a really good kid that’s worked hard and come a long ways in the year and a half that I’ve known him. I’ve gotten to know his parents and they are really good people that have instilled a work ethic and a level of respect for people – and appreciation – I can say he’s represented his country and his family and his sport really well.”

Ky has a few online only classes that he can do while heading to rodeos. He is in his second year at Sul Ross, majoring in Industrial Technology – learning everything from welding to woodworking, small engine repair and industrial drawing. His real love is riding bulls.

“I like it so much; when you love something that much, you do whatever you can to be better at it. There are a handful of guys out there that will go down as great – if I want to beat them; I’m going to have to work at it very hard.”

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