Roper Review with Sawyer Barham & Kolton Schmidt

by Siri Stevens
Sawyer Barham and Kolton Schmidt at the 2015 CNFR - Hubbell

Sawyer Barham has been roping with Kolton Schmidt for two years. “He’s four hours away,” said Sawyer, the 2015 CNFR Team Roping Champion Heeler. Four hours from colleges, but a whole lot further from Kolton’s home town in Alberta Canada. “When we first started roping, we entered a lot of amateur rodeos and we just kind of know each other’s game plan,” explained Sawyer. “He always says he’s going to be safe but aggressive and not back off and that’s what he does.” The team was second going into the finals and since Kolton had to miss some rodeos to pro rodeo, he was a little further behind. “We got to go because of a tie for heelers in his region, I was going, but I wasn’t going to get to rope with him.”
Kolton Schmidt grew up in Canada and came here for ‘no snow and nice weather.’ His parents own a place in Arizona and he’s wintered there since 2004. “It all started in 2004 in Arizona, so it’s still pretty new for all of us. It’s unbelievable – it is a roper’s paradise. Our definition of cold in Canada is -40 and three feet of snow.” He is a few hours shy of a degree in communications from Durant, Okla., and when he graduates, all he wants to do is rope.  “I don’t have a back-up plan,” said the 21-year-old, who is entered up through the summer with Dustin Searcy. “We were in the same region, and we’re hauling down the road in a mini freightliner and Platinum with two horses each.” He started roping when he was 12, but was involved in other sports in Canada. “I did baseball, hockey, basketball, and football and rode motorcycles cross country. I just kept weeding out sports until I dropped them all and roped and this is pretty addicting.  I’m sure glad I did.” The only thing he misses about organized sports is the discipline to be in shape. “In rodeo, it’s your own personal choice to be in shape. But I sure like the western lifestyle.”
He admits that rodeo in the US is different than Canada. “I’ve never rodeoed this much south of the line and this is awesome. Everybody is out here cheering for each other and everybody is happy to be alive. We are making a living doing what we love and it’s hard to complain.” Kolton is still soaking in the win in Casper. “It’s a really big win for me and Sawyer. To have our names on that forever – everybody goes to school for an education and to win at the national level, that’s awesome,” he said. Sawyer has another chance, but for Kolton the 6.2 short round run will forever be a memory. “We had to have 7.5 to win and we were 6.2 in short round. As soon as we heard our time, we knew we won it,” he said. Kolton relies on his training to make that kind of time. “I just try not to think about it,” he said. “One step at a time. If you plan your run – there’s lots of stuff that can go wrong. Handle it each step at a time.” Kolton grew up a third generation roper, and his family recently gave up the cold for a place in Arizona.
He would love to rope with Sawyer all summer, but that isn’t going to work. Sawyer is going to school for Ag Business and is working for his grandfather in the concrete business in Oshalade Oklahoma. “I really enjoy it,” he said. “This year work has really picked up and I’ve only been to a couple of rodeos.” My horse is back to sound and I’m about to start rodeoing again.” Sawyer is heading to Northwestern OSU in Alva and will rope with Hunter Muncell next year; Hunter was third high call coming back to the finals.

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