Local cowboy rides to top at Las Vegas Rodeo | CraigDailyPress.com

Local cowboy rides to top at Las Vegas Rodeo

John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs — Cowboy Keenan Hayes is only 12, but that didn’t stop him from living out his childhood dreams on the rodeo arena floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center earlier this month. — Cowboy Keenan Hayes is only 12, but that didn't stop him from living out his childhood dreams on the rodeo arena floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center earlier this month.

— Cowboy Keenan Hayes is only 12, but that didn't stop him from living out his childhood dreams on the rodeo arena floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center earlier this month.

Hayes rode two horses at the Mini Bareback Riding World Championship, which was held Dec. 4 and 5, and he finished tied for fifth overall in the final results. He scored a 77 in the long-go Saturday to advance to the short-go Sunday. In that event, he scored a 72 to place sixth, but his average for the two rides put him in fifth overall.

"It all came down to the draw," Hayes said. "I didn't get the horses I wanted, but I think I made the most of what I got."

He admits the fifth-place finish was about four short of his goal of winning the event, but he also learned a valuable lesson — sometimes the draw has more to do with winning than the cowboy.

Hayes said there were two or three horses he had hoped to ride at the event, but he didn't get those horses. He said the winners were the cowboys who drew the best horses, and that was the difference in the event.

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Idaho cowboy Cooper Cooke won the junior division, and Alabama cowboy Ryder Carpenetti topped the peewee division. Hayes competed in the junior division and was one of two cowboys from Hayden in the event. J.D. Case competed in the peewee division, but did not advance out of the long-go round.

"It was just a lot of fun," Hayes said. "It was great being there and getting a chance to ride in an event like that."

Hayes said it's long been his goal to compete at the National Finals Rodeo, which was going on at the same time as the Mini Bareback Riding World Championship. Hayes said he plans on getting his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association card as soon as he's old enough and begin competing with an eye toward nationals.

"He's rode just about everything," Hayes' mom, Jackie, said. "Sometimes, it makes me a little nervous, but I just have to close my eyes. This is what Keenan wants to do — this is what he loves."

Right now, Hayes is trying to learn the ropes of bareback riding. He will compete in a couple rodeos this winter and will be a part of the Routt County Rodeo Team this spring.

Hayes said he started riding sheep at the Routt County Fair's mutton busting event and has ridden steers, bulls and now mini broncs.

Hayes has grown up with rodeo, and his father Donnie was a member of the PRCA from 1979 to 1988.

Today, Hayes is running Rocky Mountain Mini Broncs with his sister Kaitlynn.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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