Colton DeVore of south of Clarence is making a name for himself on the rodeo circuit. The nine-year-old son of Jason and Jessie DeVore has earned several honors in the two years that he has participated in mutton busting, calf and steer riding.
In May 2011 the Midwest Cowboy Rodeo Company was holding a rodeo at the Macon County Fairgrounds.
"At the rodeo they offered any of the kids attending to try mutton busting," said Jessie. "So he did."
"The first time I rode I was kind of scared," said Colton. "But I was happy and excited too!"
After his first attempt he was hooked. By July he had progressed to calf riding too.
In November he earned his way to compete at the National Junior Bull Rodeo Association event in Oklahoma by being one of the top two point finishers in MW Cowboy.
Young cowboys were judged on their riding at the rodeo as well as the points they had accumulated during the year. The point tally begins in December. Even though Colton had only begun to ride in May, and had a shorter time window of allowable points he finished as 12th in the nation out of over 60 competitors.
At a rodeo competitors only get one ride per category. To tally any points they must stay on the animal they are riding for a minimum of six seconds. In addition, they are scored on balance, form and spurring. Riding is done barebacked with a rope tied around the animal's midsection. A leather glove is worn on the hand used to hold on to the rope. The other had may not touch the animal during the ride or a foul is called, the ride is declared over and no score is given.
The animal is selected by drawing prior to the ride. Even though it is not their own, the riders are judged on the animal's performance during the ride.
To keep safe each rider wears a helmet, padded vest and mouth guard.
"Just like a football player," jokes Colton.
Colton has attended trainings to help become a better rider.
"They tell us to lean forward and get up off your pockets," said Colton. "To stay focused and not watch the crowd. To keep your head down and watch the animal's neck."
All his hard work has paid off. Colton has received several honors including winter series buckles for steer and calf riding, number one calf rider in 2012 and the All-Around Cowboy buckle.
"Right now he is sitting at number one in calf riding and steer riding in the state in his division," said Jessie.
Colton has made many friends on the rodeo circuit.
Page 2 of 2 - "It is fun, I like the competition with my friends," he said. "But we also clap for each other too."
"The older boys serve as role models and encourage the younger ones," said Jessie.
Rodeos are turning into a family affair for the DeVore's.
Colton's younger brother Calahan, 5, has started to carry on the family tradition and try mutton busting too.
Jason helps out during the rodeos by serving as a pick-up man, assisting riders off the bucking animals. He also helps rope the bulls to return them to their shoots.
"Colton has been riding horses since he was big enough to sit in the saddle," said Jessie. "He likes to work with his dad. Jason is teaching Colton to rope now."
Colton will be riding this Saturday in front of his hometown fans at the Midwest Cowboy Rodeo Company sponsored rodeo during the Clarence Homecoming.
The event will begin at 3 p.m. following the parade and will be held in downtown Clarence. Admission to the rodeo is free