Cowboys better watch out.
This 12-year-old cowgirl is nothing to be taken lightly as she backs into the roping box.
Well, every cowboy or cowgirl of any age or level of rodeo competition has learned they must take heed whenever the name Caxton Martin shows up on the entry list.
Without exception, if the Alma, Kansas ranch cowgirl is there, it’s with the intent to win, and she’ll certainly do everything within her diverse talented capabilities to make that a reality.
“I was the only girl who made the short-go-round out of 110 contestants in the 12 and under boys and girls breakaway roping, and then got second in that round, ended up sixth in the average,” Martin stated emphatically upon returning home Sunday evening from a weekend of roping.
In the breakaway event, contestants mounted on horseback are required to come from a standstill out of a starting box and rope a calf with their lariat only tied to the saddle horn by a twine string. Time stops when the roped runaway calf breaks the string, with some of the fastest runs in just very few seconds.
Never the slightest boast, it was all business talk detailed unraveling of the Alta Vista, Kansas, seventh grader’s most recent competition in the entangled schedule of a champion cowgirl not yet a teenager.
The daughter of Alma, Kansas, ranchers Chris and Candi Martin, the Prairie Heights Middle School honor student is sister to Cooper Martin, still a high school student but already a champion roper, among the best in the business, a promise of a professional career as such, and a complete story in his own right.
Had there been any other competitions besides roping, and the entries been cowboys or cowgirls multiples her maturity, Martin would have been entered as well, being a threat to the winner-take-home, verified by proven record.
After the dusty settled from the United Rodeo Association (URA) Finals at Topeka, Kansas, just a couple of weeks earlier, Martin was named Runner-up Rookie Cowgirl of the Year. Now, that’s against all cowgirls, many multiples her age, in a nine-state region, too.
“This was my first year competing in the URA, which made me a rookie, and I won the second largest amount of money among all of the rookie cowgirls competing this year. I just entered in URA barrel racings this year, but I intend to ride in other events in the future,” Martin clarified.
To claim the runner-up rookie cowgirl distinction, Martin collected $4,183.02 in winnings at URA barrel racings.
In the barrel racing event, three 55-gallon barrels are set in a cloverleaf-shaped-formation, so mounted horseback riders individually race at top speed around the pattern making one right and two left turns, or two right and one left turn, and then race straightaway down the center across a finish line, with the shortest time on the stopwatch being the winner.
“I went to about 14 URA rodeos in Kansas, Missouri and Iowa during the past year,” Martin reflected.
Added to local rodeo prize money, Martin competed in the finals at Topeka. “I was fourth in the third go round, and then ended up sixth in the yearend URA barrel racing standings,” Martin related.
Her fourth place barrel racing go-round time was 14.506 seconds, compared to 14.613 seconds for first. That’s one-tenth of a second difference in first and fourth, not even a portion of a person’s single breath.
Now, bear in mind this barrel racing was against all comers; cowgirls of all levels of ability, including those who’ve qualified for the National Finals Rodeo annually in Las Vegas, as members of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.
Actually, these recent impressive winnings, even to the most seasoned professional, are additional frosting on the accumulation of accomplishments for the honor student-cowgirl.
Just before the URA finals, Martin had been asked to compete in the American Royal Invitational Youth Rodeo at Kansas City. This time against cowgirls’ eighth grade and under, Martin proved time and again the best.
“I had some really good runs and placed first in both breakaway roping and barrel racing in both the long-go-round, and in the finals,” Martin tabulated.
As if she doesn’t sound busy enough, Martin is also a regular in Junior High Rodeo Association competitions, ending the Kansas yearend standings first in barrel racing, fourth in breakaway roping and third in goat tying, another event in her all-around cowgirl repertoire.
Likely as notable, as least to some, Martin was selected to the Kansas Junior High Rodeo Academic Team for her classroom efforts and capabilities as well.
Listing accomplishments is easy, getting there is the tough part often overlooked by the envious and those reporting them.
Three basic requirements: an athlete, with a top horse and lots of practice.
“I’m really fortunate to have outstanding horses. I use Trigger, my palomino gelding for breakaway roping and goat tying. He might not be real big, but Trigger is mighty. I’ve been riding him four years,” Martin credited.
“Oh ‘yeh,’ Lucky is a top barrel horse. He’s a sorrel gelding I’ve had him three years, and he’s a great athlete,” Martin exclaimed.
“I won fifth in the average at the URA finals with Lucky being sick, which shows how big of a heart he has,” the cowgirl acknowledged.
Conditioning is as important as practicing; especially with outstanding, proven mounts, according to the cowgirl. “I ride my barrel horse at a long trot for several miles at least every other day to keep him in shape,” she said.
“I practice roping off my other horse three times a week minimum, usually 10 to 15 calves at a time, depending on the day, right here at our home ranch arena, with our own practice calves ,” Martin verified.
When not on her horse, Martin is generally found tying the goats, also in the yard at the ranch, or roping the calf roping dummy always prominently sitting nearby for a lariat loop to be cast.
Not yet competing in team roping to any extent, that could be an additional event on down the trail for the all-around cowgirl.
Besides the competitions mentioned, Martin is a threat whenever she pulls in at any other rodeo or jackpot event big, small and in-between.
Every day not entered somewhere, Martin is practicing. “With less daylight this time of year, after I get out of school, I have to really hurry to get done before dark. But, I don’t let anything keep me away from practice anymore. Whenever I have, it showed up at the next rodeo,” she contended.
Going down the road is expensive, and Martin knows it, because she’s responsible for her own entry fees. “I’m fortunate that Cooper is competing at the same time, and that our parents are willing to help haul us to some of the same events. But, I’m entirely responsible for the entry fees and other expenses when I get there.
“I have to keep close tabs, however, I’ve been doing good enough to make some money, and sometimes even help with the gas costs. I try to always save some, too, because you can’t win every time. And, I’m always on the lookout for a different and better horse, so I need to have the money available for that, if the time arises,” Martin calculated.
Coaching is necessarily at any level of competition, and Martin feels fortunate that her parents and brother are capable and always willing to offer advice for improving her abilities. “They are very helpful in everything. Cooper is such a good roper, and he really assists me a lot. My parents and Cooper are all very good supporters,” Martin appreciated.
However, Martin and her champion roper-brother do not share horses. “I ride mine, and he rides his. That’s just the way it is, and it always works out to the best that way. Horses are so important to each of our success, that there’s no reason for one or the other of us to mess up the other’s horse.
“And, that’s why we’re always on the lookout for horses to keep us mounted the best we can be at all times,” Martin continued.
At such a young age, Martin really hasn’t looked too far beyond high school for education, although she’s anticipating competition in high school rodeos. “I really haven’t given any thought to college,” she admitted.
Still, for her lifetime career, and the future, “I plan to rodeo. I intend to compete in barrel racing at the National Finals Rodeo,” Martin promised.
Until then, which could be sooner than later, Caxton Martin is a winner’s spotlight threat to all competition cowgirl, cowboy, young, old, in-between, regardless the level or division, be it roping, barrel racing, goat tying and additional events she’ll be entering on down the rodeo trail.