In her fifth year of competition in the CePRA, Michelle Piha has set a goal to qualify for her first finals. “I didn’t get to […]
On the Trail with Kellan & Carson Johnson
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Kellan and Carson Johnson, brothers from 30 miles outside Casper, Wyo., have roped together for eight years. “It’s great – we get to practice together all the time, but its nerve wracking because you don’t want to miss for your little brother,” said Kellan, the 6+ header, who is two years older. “We have an indoor and outdoor arena at home.” They have a great teacher in their dad, Jhett Johnson, 2011 WNFR World Champion Team Roping Heeler with his partner Turtle Powell. The pair won it with a total time of 57.5 seconds on nine head. Their mom, Jenny, competed in goat tying and breakaway in college. “We have plenty of help.” This is Kellan’s second year winning the team roping championship for the state of Wyoming, and he has been the USTRC regional champion, heading for his dad, for two years in a row.
He made his third trip to the National High School Finals this past summer, he and his partner last year (cousin, Jayden) came into the short go in the same position as this year, third. “The steer we had was great and we were a 5.3,” said Kellan of the run. “We put enough pressure on second and first,” recalls Kellan. “Second high call ended up winning it with a 5.1.” His plan is to practice up for the next year and hopefully win the state title again. “Then go back to Nationals and leave with a first instead of second.”
He spent the rest of the summer amateur rodeoing in Nebraska. After that, the high school rodeos started up again. “We put up hay and we check cattle and make sure everything is running smooth on the ranch.” The 17-year-old has one more year of high school and is unsure where he will go to college. “I might go somewhere that’s warmer,” he said, and plans to get a degree in Ag Business. He has considered Casper where his dad is the rodeo coach, but thinks he might head to Oklahoma or Texas.
He and his brother are sitting first in the state at the end of the fall season, he is fourth in calves, and second in the All Around.
Kellan gives credit for his success to growing up watching his dad and grandpa and uncle break horses. “I learned how a horse should move and act at a high level, cutting, roping, etc. Coming from this family, I learned what good horsemanship, and a good roper, and mindset is all about also,” he explained. “What my dad told me is you have 30 minutes to yourself to be frustrated or angry at anything in life, to understand and go from there. After that 30 minutes, you clear your mind and get on to the next whatever it is.” He explains good horsemanship as someone who can understand the difference between roping and the horse. “When your horse isn’t working right, it makes your job ten times harder than it should be. A horse also demonstrates the rider’s handiness and how success you will be. If you have a good horse, your roping goes up. If you have a bad horse, it goes down.” Kellan has gone through five head horses in the ten years he’s been roping. “The way I look at it, the better you get as a roper, the better your horse has to be. That will take your roping to the next level.” He has learned how to find the right horse. “For what I do, and for my event, I look for a lot of run, a good mindset, good attitude towards things. Kind of like a little kid, willing to learn what you ask of them.” Roping with his brother has gotten better every day. “We are figuring each other out – if you can wake up everyday and make the same run you made the day before, the sky is the limit.”
Carson is a #7 heeler, and he likes to rope with his brother. “We get to practice every day, it’s always in the family,” he said. The sophomore at Natrona County High School is riding Shwaze, a horse he got a year ago. “When I got him, he was a little green, but now he’s finished and fits me really good.” He spent his time getting ready for the short go by staying relaxed. “It’s nothing more than another steer that we rope in the practice pen. There’s nerves, but not as much as you think. I was super excited to rope our steer, we had a pretty good one. I knew if we could get by him, we’d have a decent shot. It was my first year out there (National High School Finals), coming up second was great.” For Carson, roping is a family deal. “Dad helps all the time, Kellan turns me all the steers I want, my mom supports me, and my grandma is at every rodeo.” His spent his summer the same as his brothers. Amateur rodeo with his brother and keep practicing. When he isn’t rodeoing, he plays basketball and ropes the dummy with his little brother, Kress. “We have matches and have a rodeo season, trying to make the NFR. We have teams with our cousins – we set it out there a ways, and we time it on the phone. We win bragging rights.”
Little brother, Kress, is seven. He ropes the Heel O Matic and likes to ranch and also likes the bucking end of the arena, helping Dona Vold this fall at the high school rodeos. The family lives on a 7,000 acre ranch that was homesteaded by their great great grandfather in 1884. The house that Jamis and Judy Johson (grandparents) live in was built in 1892, and remains the oldest two story log home that is lived in in Wyoming.