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Freshman Myles Malone finds his place on rodeo circuit

Freshman Myles Malone finds his place on rodeo circuit
Freshman Myles Malone has made a name for himself on the high school rodeo circuit. He is accustomed to winning buckles and saddles everywhere he goes. His new Horse Popcorn is still learning the ropes so Myles makes a regular trip to the roping practice arena in Mansfield at least one time a week with her. (Heather Butler photo)

As he sits atop of his palomino horse in the back of the roping box with his lasso in hand, freshman Myles Malone gets his head in the zone. By now he is  staring down an anxious calf waiting to be released from the shoot.

“I have to catch this one,” Myles says.  “I have to get this calf and get it fast.”
Myles gives the nod to the roping chute operator and the calf takes off.

“Aye, yah, yah,” Myles yells as he darts out of the roping box and heads toward a quick moving painted calf.

Within seconds he throws his rope and catches the calf. He jumps off his horse and runs to the calf, throwing the calf in the air and down to the ground. He quickly ties three of the calf’s legs together and rapidly throws his hands in the air.

“That’s it,” he says as he moves his horse forward to allow his dad the slack to untie the calf.  Then he’s back on his horse for another shot at a catch.

Myles has been roping  since he was eight years old. His father grew up with horses in Fairfield, Texas and as soon as Myles was born he quickly put him on a horse.

“Myles first started riding horses when he was two years old,” Myles’ father Michael Malone said. “When he got old enough he wanted to rope and that is what he has done ever since then.”

Over the years Myles has received support from his family and what he calls his second family in Patches and Mary Starky. The Starky family first met the Malones when they were living in Fairfield. The two families grew close and they consider each other family.

“I see Myles as one of my boys,” Mrs. Starky said. “I have a few boys that come over to rope in our arena and I’m like their second momma.”

Myles and a few other boys go to the Starky house just outside of Mansfield where they  rope with the Starky’s son long after the sun goes down. With all the guys at the arena being around the age of 20 and Myles is only a freshman in high school, Mr. Starky says Myles has no problem keeping up with the adults.

“He’s really good, and I see a lot of potential in him,” Mr. Starky said. “He watches everything the older boys do and follows them.”

The Starky’s also see great things out of the boys as they are roping. Both Mr. and Mrs. Starky are proud to see that the young boys are staying out of trouble and not jumping into peer pressure.

“Its great not to see the boys saying hey lets go get beer or get into trouble,” Mr. Starky said.  “All these boys want to do is rope steers and have fun.”
Myles prepares for rodeos as he would any another sport.  He puts his earphones in and listens to inspiring music. Along with his two horses Popcorn and LA, Myles competes in rodeos all over Texas and Oklahoma. Unlike other sports where trophies are awarded for winning a game or event, in rodeos, you can win money, saddles, and belt buckles.

“I like winning money, and last year I won two saddles and that was very exciting,” Myles said.
With fancy saddles and money on the line and dozens of contestants wanting them just as much as the others,  Myles says he has a drive to be on the top every time he attends a rodeo.

“I start to feel real nervous every time I prepare to run,” Myles said.  “But my parents just tell me to try my best and have fun, and that’s what I do.”

The Malone’s say they sometimes have to sacrifice their time and money in order for Myles to keep doing what he loves. Part of the sacrifices include him missing school on certain occasions to attend a rodeo. His parents however still expect and encourage him to produce acceptable grades.

“We want him to enjoy the rodeos,” Mr. Malone said. “But we encourage him to study hard and make good grades.”

Myles is committed to both making significant grades and putting in hard work into the sport he loves. Mr. Malone says that the other sacrifice made is when he puts his money behind helping his son in the rodeo instead of entering the events himself.

“Some of my friends are still trying to run down the road and rope while their kids are roping,” Mr. Malone said. “I keep telling them you have had your time, just sit back and watch your boy enjoy the ride.”

When the day is done and Myles walks away with or without the buckle, he admits the main focus is to enjoy what you are doing.

“I love being around my friends and the atmosphere rodeos bring,” Myles said.  “There is nothing like being on the back of a horse.”

The cycle continues as Myles crawls back on  his Palomino horse Popcorn, backs in the roping box again, gives the nod and leaves the shoot with his final message to those looking on.

“This one is for the Calf Roping World Championship!” Myles said as he runs down another calf.

See more photos of Myles roping here

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