Local kindergartner headed to national finals for sheep riding

Published 7:50 am Thursday, September 19, 2013

He may be short in stature and just 5 years old, but don’t let that fool you, Colton Carpenter’s a big time sheep rider, and locals will have the opportunity to see him in action in the coming weeks.

From birth, Carpenter was destined to get into the rodeo business, and by age 2, he was following in the footsteps of his dad, Kelly Lee Carpenter, and is grandfather, Louis Henry Carpenter.

Carpenter’s grandfather competed in bareback riding, calf roping and team roping, while his father competed in steer wrestling, calf roping and team roping.

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Carpenter’s mother, Sheree H. Lee, and sister, Belle Carpenter, also compete in rodeo events.

The Luverne Elementary School kindergartner said he enjoys the fans and the ride. He’s also pretty excited about the prize money, trophies and other cool stuff he earns.

“Sometimes the sheep almost crush your leg,” he said. “You have to wear a helmet and a vest.”

Sheep riders must stay on the animal six seconds instead of the eight required in bull riding.

“One time I stayed on eight seconds,” he said. “To stay on, I just count in my mind until I get to six.”

Carpenter said that in one event, he just kept hanging on.

“Dad had to pick the sheep up,” he said, laughing. “It took like 10,000 people to get me off.”

Carpenter said he improves by riding at rodeos, which he does nearly every weekend throughout the year.

He doesn’t get nervous, he said.

Carpenter said he has a large amount of friends who rodeo.

“You can say I have 10,000 friends,” he said, with a big grin. “There are a lot of us who ride all the time. When we get to the place, we all lose each other and we just keep going around the area, and then we find each other. You can hear footsteps and find each other.”

Carpenter said he wants to become a bull rider, but he can’t until he’s 14.

In the meantime, his next adventure is riding zebus, which he described as a miniature Brahman bull.

Dad, Kelly, said they are relatively new and weigh 300-500 pounds.

“I’m going to start real soon,” Carpenter said.

In November, Carpenter will journey to the 2013 American Youth Bullriders Association World Finals in Ignacio, Colo.

“I am excited about going,” he said. “This is my second time qualifying, but my first time going. I have some friends who are going.”

Some 300 kids have qualified for the first day of competition.

Before he heads to Colorado, local residents will have the opportunity to see him in the Alabama Youth and Junior Bull Riders Association state finals, which will be held Oct. 11-13 at the Tom Harbin Ag Center.

“This rodeo will be the last one before I go to Colorado,” he said.

The association faith-based and will hold cowboy church on Sunday before the performance.

“I enjoy it,” Carpenter said.