Born to be cowboys
Brother Brayden (left) and Ty (right) are the sons of Eric and Vikki Aymond from Pine Prairie. They will be competing in roping events at different national rodeo competitions. Brayden leaves today, Thursday, for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Guthrie, Oklahoma (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
By: TONY MARKS
Two Pine Prairie brothers, who have the love of rodeo flowing through their veins, are embarking to compete in events at the national level.
Brayden Aymond, 11, is leaving today, June 15, 2017, for Lebanon, Tenn., to compete in the National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR). which is the largest junior high rodeo in the world. Then he along with his 13-year-old brother Ty will be leaving for the Li’l Bridges National Competition in Guthrie, Okla., that takes place on the first week of July.
“We are looking forward to it,” Brayden said. “We are very excited.”
As a competitor in the NJHFR, Brayden will be matched up against 1,000 other rodeo riders from across the country, from five provinces in Canada, and from Australia. According to Brayden, the best part about it is making friends from all over the world.
The brothers are the sons of Eric and Vikki Aymond, who live on Veterans Memorial Highway a couple of miles south of Pine Prairie. The brothers also attend school at Bayou Chicot Elementary.
“When we were little, we started getting into it with dad,” Brayden said. His dad competed in roping events on the rodeo circuit and has passed the art down to his sons.
“We roped with daddy and won money with dad,” said Ty. “He’s taught us a lot. He’s gotten our horses ready for this, and he’s given us good advice when walking into the box.”
Vikki explained her sons’ dedication to their events as they prepare for the national competitions. “They practice every day,” she said. “They’re either on the horses, or, if it’s raining, they are on those fake cows we have outside roping constantly. They’re very dedicated.”
“It teaches them responsibility and accountability,” she continued. “They take care of their own horses. We don’t go out there at 6:00 in the morning and feed them. They’re out there, and they have to put out their own hay. Their dad and I don’t do everything for them and hand it to them. They work for it.”
The Aymond brothers kicked off this rodeo season last September and have been building up points in the junior high division. They went on to compete in the state finals in the last week of May where they both finished in the top four. Brayden qualified in breakaway roping, and Ty qualified in roping events as well such as team roping, breakaway roping, and tie-down calf roping.
Ty’s favorite event is team roping. “It’s my favorite because I have to work for it,” he said. “Daddy got me to rope together with him a lot. We are looking at leaving in October for Oklahoma City for a big roping competition. It’s a lot of money, scholarships, and things like that, so we got a lot going on.”
Brayden’s favorite event is breakaway roping, and his least favorite is either team roping or ribbon. “No, I like all of mine,” he later admitted.
For Vikki, she hopes the rodeo circuit will lead Ty to college and beyond. “We’re trying to get (Ty) through college with this where he’ll go to LSU-A or McNeese rodeoing,” she said. “He wants to do it more than academics, but academics comes first.”
Prizes available through these competitions include scholarships that Ty and Brayden can put toward college and other prizes as well. For example, Brayden will have the opportunity to ride for the title of National Junior High Finals World Champion which will earn him more than $80,000.00 in prizes and $200,000.00 in college scholarships.
“As they win money they have to give it back to us for what we paid into it,” said Vikki.
“That way they start understanding the financial aspect of it. And then for Ty the money is also going into savings to toward paying for his truck, or if he needs another horse, or whatever he needs. He pretty much supports himself with it.”
“Ty is sitting in the top five in the world standings in his events going into Nationals,” Vikki continued. “Once the pressure gets to him, we’ll see what happens.”
If Brayden finishes in the top 20 in the first two rounds of the NJHFR, he will advance to the championship round on Saturday. World champions will then be determined based on their combined times/scores in the three rounds. Fans locally can follow all the action by visiting NHSRA.org and can watch the championship round live on RFD-TV.