Beau Kelley spent the first week of the Junior National Finals Rodeo on the roughstock end of the Wrangler Rodeo Arena.
Kelley, a 13-year-old bull rider from Coolidge, Arizona, finished third in the average in the 12-13 division on Monday. A different Beau Kelley, a bareback bronc rider, placed second in the senior division.
Tuesday, Beau Kelly (note the spelling) was once again in action at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena, this time in steer wrestling.
“Yeah, I saw that there was someone else here with the same name,” said Kelly, the bulldogger. “But I don’t ride bulls or broncs.”
No, this Kelly does his work on the other end of the arena, although he hasn’t done it for long. The college freshman began his steer wrestling career four years ago when he was a freshman at Artesia High School in New Mexico.
“It was a guy named John Solt, who’s been my best friend forever, who got me started,” Kelly said. “They have a little ranch outside Artesia. He team ropes and calf ropes and I wanted to do something different. And it’s always been considered a big man’s event and I’ve never been small.
“I started chute dogging in eighth grade,” he added. “I didn’t have horses at the time, but the Yazzies and the McCormicks got me interested and here we are.”
Kelly isn’t kidding. Rooster and Hiyo Yazzie, along with Bryce McCormick all made the drive from New Mexico to Las Vegas. Tuesday, Kelly got things started with a 9.9-second run, while Hiyo Yazzie and McCormick both had no-times. Rooster Yazzie makes first run Wednesday.
Kelly’s run has him sitting 11th after the first 30 runs – not bad for a relative newcomer to the sport. Bulldogging, however, has already benefited Kelly, who played travel baseball when he was younger and football throughout high school.
“I knew that I wasn’t big enough to be a college football player,” he said, “but I knew rodeo could lead to a scholarship.”
It did, with Kelly just finishing his first semester at Dodge City Community College in Kansas.
“Kansas is a lot colder than New Mexico, but I love it there,” Kelly said with a laugh. “After Dodge City I don’t know where I want to go, but I’m getting a four-year degree for sure. Before college rodeo I was just going to get an associate’s degree and then go on to a trade school.”
That has obviously changed now. And Kelly already knows what he wants to do with his future.
“I love bulldogging and I want to do it until I can’t do it anymore,” he said.
Wisely, Kelly has a backup plan that will take advantage of his schooling.
“I want to be a consulting agent for a refrigeration or H-VAC company in a Spanish-speaking country,” said Kelly, who is majoring in international communications with a minor in Spanish. “My brother is involved in H-VAC refrigeration, and if you want a market to expand you need to move to another country.”
This week, though, Kelly is happy to be in Las Vegas. And he’s hoping to put together another solid run Friday while riding Blackie, one of Rooster Yazzie’s horses.
“I’ve got my own horse,” Kelly said, “but he’s just a step too slow for these shorter arenas. I’ve been riding that black horse since I was a sophomore in high school. Rooster will always let me jump on and ride Blackie or the haze horse Bumpy. I’ve jumped as many steers off of Bumpy as I have Blackie. They’re the nicest horses in New Mexico.”