Professional rodeo bareback bronc riding is generally considered a young cowboy’s sport.
Jared Keylon at 34-years-old would by some standards be considered nearly middle-aged, certainly not a kid anymore.
He’s still a world class rodeo athlete in what’s undeniably one of the two toughest events in rodeo.
Most would consider bull riding top of the demands on body, but watch bareback riding and its right there, too. Fall back and use one spurring the fastest rankest highest kicking bronc takes a cowboy with semblance of gymnastic skills.
“I’m truly blessed to continue doing what I love so much. There aren’t but a couple other bareback bronc riders my age still going on the professional rodeo circuit,” Keylon verified.
Monday morning the Uniontown cowboy was resting up after returning from the National Western Stock Show in Denver.
“I marked a 79½ on my first horse,” Keylon related. “Then the second horse a stud didn’t go as strong, a 77. Those scores probably won’t win any money, takes an 80 or better average.”
However, Keylon is already having a good year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He’s second in the world standings with $15,920.50.
Winnings at the All American Rodeo, Waco, Texas, and the Prairie Circuit Finals, Duncan, Oklahoma, counted for the new year. “They were both good rodeos and helped give me a boost for 2019,” Keylon recognized.
The cowboy won three go rounds at Waco, then two rounds plus a second to claim the circuit title. Together the rodeos put about $15,000 in his pocket.
“It’s a start. Then I split a fifth at the first World’s Toughest Rodeo of the year recently in Des Moines. That helped some too,” he tallied.
With such an encouraging kickoff, Keylon is still most realistic in his outlook for the year. “Honestly, I’ll leave it up to the Lord, what he has in mind for me this year,” the bronc rider credited. “It’s still one rodeo at a time, do the best I can with what I draw.”
Yet, Keylon has a game plan in place. “Those World’s Toughest Rodeos pay about $10,000, so I’d like to enter them,” he analyzed. “They’re a perfect fit for somebody who doesn’t want to be on the road all of the time.”
Moline, Illinois, is up next followed by a handful more of those “Toughest” rodeos. “I can get off work, drive to a rodeo, and still be home most of the time,” Keylon said.
Blaine Kauffman, bareback bronc rider from Pretty Prairie, is often his traveling partner. “Blaine had a good rodeo at Denver. He should win some money there,” Keylon noted.
Major rodeos the National Circuit Finals in Florida, the Houston Stock Show and San Antonio are also on Keylon’s calendar. “They all have high payout, sure be good places to pick up a check,” Keylon figured.
“I have no interest in going to 100 rodeos a year like I have,” he commented. “I really don’t fly much anymore.”
The cowboy and Ashley, his wife of ten years, have two children, Gunner’s eight, and Sadie’s two. “They’re growing up fast already and I don’t want to miss time with them,” Keylon insisted.
The family has a new home on 10 acres west of Fort Scott. “I just got a new job too working in maintenance at the community college,” Keylon related. He is a graduate from Fort Scott Community College with a degree in applied sciences
“I wasn’t looking for a change from my job with the city, but it seems to be a good fit,” he said. “Ashley also works as an advisor for the college.”
For such employment requires added skills beyond many cowboys. “I don’t want to toot my horn, but if something’s broke, I tend to be able to get it fixed,” Keylon admitted.
Physical fitness is a key to the 5-foot-4, 148-pound cowboy’s initiative to winning. “I have a set exercise program every day work out about 30 minutes,” Keylon assured. That features a regiment of 150 pushups, 150 setups, 75 pullups and 150 curls with free weights.
Spurring ability is essential. “I ride the spur board everyday usually takes about five minutes when I go out to feed my horse,” he said. “I try to do it right the first time, so I don’t have to keep going, but I want to be correct.”
First ingredient to be winning the bareback bronc riding is not being bucked off before the eight-second whistle. Keylon seldom gets on the ground until he’s ready.
“I bucked off a couple of broncs last year, got on about 60 head,” Keylon said. “Being able to make the whistle comes from seasoning, riding broncs this long.”
He started his rodeo career 19 years ago with professional winnings now totaling more than a quarter of a million.
Best year was 2012 when Keylon qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. He finished 15th in the world standings with $54,478, and also won the Prairie Circuit Finals that year
Keylon was 16th in the world standings with $54,459 in 2009. Last year, he finished 37th with $25,791, winning six rodeos and splitting first in two more.
How much longer will Keylon be riding bareback broncs? “I want to keep going as long as I can feel good. As long as I can win,” he replied. “Oh I get stiffer than I used to, no doubt about that. It’s to be expected when a body takes such beatings all these years.
“I’m really blessed to still be competing successfully and winning as long as I have,” Keylon added.
Sometimes rodeo cowboys start competing in amateur rodeos when their professional career stagnates.
“I sure don’t want to do that. I really like the professional side of rodeo and always want to be a professional,” Keylon said. “When that ends, let the younger cowboys ride amateur and move up in the standings.”
Most important, Keylon acknowledged, “Ashley has always been very supportive of my rodeo career. She tells me if I want to rodeo, then go for it.
“But, I’m sure in the back of her mind, Ashley is waiting for the day when I stop riding broncs,” Keylon recognized.
“Where I can be home this much, have a good job and rodeo too, with a great family. I’m truly blessed,” the cowboy appreciated.