Young rodeo champ wins all-around

Colton Zimmerman admits he was a little nervous before the Colorado Junior Rodeo Association finals at Kit Carson County Fairgrounds in Burlington in August. But that didn’t stop the 9-year-old from doing well enough in three different events to earn the CJRA all-around title for 2013.

A fourth grader at Eyestone Elementary School in Wellington, Colton earned the championship spot despite losing his special horse early in the season. In the first of a series of rodeos staged almost every weekend throughout the state, Colton used a borrowed horse. Then good friends gave him Mody, a 22-year-old female, and before long, the pair were a team, riding and roping through what Colton describes as “a fun season.”

His stellar performances were the result of hard, consistent work. Every weekday in the early evening Colton and his dad, Casey, saddle up and practice for an hour or so in the arena adjacent to their home north of Waverly. Friday nights the family, including mom, Natalie, and younger brother Carter, 5, pack up and head out to the rodeo of the week, sometimes many miles away.

Colton doesn’t have time for any other sport, but he’s OK with that. Rodeo is in his blood — and his dad’s and mom’s, and his grandpa’s. It’s his favorite thing to do. He’s been at it since he was 6. This year he moved up from Peewee to Junior classification and now will compete with 9- to 13-year-olds.

Losing a favorite horse, competing against his good friend and then being able to “hang out” together with no hard feelings, and learning how much time and effort it takes to be your best, Colton has learned a lot at an early age.

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