Kasen Brennise, 12, stands near his 9-year-old quarter horse Bart on Wednesday afternoon at an indoor arena near Craig where Kasen practices for rodeo events. Bart wears a trophy saddle Kasen won at a 2011 Little Britches Rodeo event in Rifle. The Craig Middle School sixth-grader also won the world champion barrel racer title at the 2008 National Finals Little Britches Rodeo.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Kasen Brennise, 12, stands near his 9-year-old quarter horse Bart on Wednesday afternoon at an indoor arena near Craig where Kasen practices for rodeo events. Bart wears a trophy saddle Kasen won at a 2011 Little Britches Rodeo event in Rifle. The Craig Middle School sixth-grader also won the world champion barrel racer title at the 2008 National Finals Little Britches Rodeo.

Little cowboy, big dreams

Kasen Brennise’s dream is to rodeo in one of the biggest arenas of them all: the National Finals Rodeo.

The 12-year-old Craig resident is well on his way to realizing that goal.

Kasen secured the title of world champion barrel racer during the 2008 National Finals Little Britches Rodeo. He was only 8 years old at the time.

The Craig Middle School sixth-grader also won several saddles during his rodeo career and “I don’t know how many buckles,” said his father, Scott Brennise, 46.

“Lots,” Kasen said.

Although he’s young, Kasen isn’t new to the rodeo gig. He’s been in rodeos since he was 5, Scott said.

Rodeo runs strong in the Brennise family.

Kasen’s 11-year-old sister, Kinlie, took the 2011 junior girls barrel racing world championship at the National Little Britches Rodeo Finals, and Scott and his wife, Sheila, once rode the circuit, too.

Kasen’s favorite event is team roping, he said, but he competes in a gamut of other events, including flag racing and goat tying.

Buckles, saddles and a world championship title didn’t come without some sweat on Kasen’s part. He practices two to five hours a day, winter and summer.

Scott believes the time Kasen invests into his events now will pay off later.

Rodeo practice builds responsibility, work ethic and motivation, he said.

“You have to be self-motivated to get better,” he said.

Kasen plans to keep sharpening his rodeo skills, aiming always for his dream. The big arena may be a long way off yet, but he’s determined to keep working toward it.

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