ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – There’s quite a bit of comradery between competitors at the Texas State High School Finals Rodeo (TSHSFR) held at the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene, but the most fun happens off of the arena floor.
For every rodeo there needs to be a rodeo clown, the lighthearted, fun protector for the bull and bronc riders.
However, at the TSHSFR, its rodeo clown isn’t in the ring and isn’t a clown at all. It’s 10-year-old Ryder Flynn, a spectator and son of one of the cutting horse trainers.
Ryder can be found riding around in a golf cart, with his bright silver Junior Finalist belt buckle, straw hat with a feather in the band and his spurs that clink with every step he takes.
Being a cowboy isn’t just about the looks for Ryder, it’s a lifestyle. However, he told KTAB/KRBC that you have to look the part.
“You got to make it as cowboy as you can get it, just everyday cowboy,” Ryder said. “Wear a cowboy shirt, wear cowboy boots, wear a cowboy hat and be cowboy.”
Simple enough, right? Looking the part is one thing, but breaking horses in the arena to ride and herding cattle through a pasture are the true signs of a real cowboy, according to Ryder.
He calls himself a “super puncher,” the highest form of respect given to cowboys who work cattle on horseback. But to be a super puncher, he said you have to be liked around the rodeo grounds, and this super puncher hasn’t met a stranger.
Flynn waves at anyone and everyone willing to give him a glance, a true people person. But at 10 years old, you would think he’d lose interest pretty quick in the fast-paced rodeo environment.
Fortunately, that is the furthest thing from the truth. As badly as he wants to compete in barrel racing, he said his time will come, but for now he has his eyes set on another prize.
“I just come here for the excitement… And the girls,” Ryder revealed.
A ladies man through and through, Ryder would wink, click his tongue and point his finger guns to any lady he found attractive. He said he knew he would probably leave without a girlfriend, but if one came up and said she knew him, that would be the young lady he’d pursue.
While Ryder was focused on meeting the young ladies competing, his friend Jay Buster Pinds was practicing twirling his plastic pistol on his finger. He had a holster strapped to his hip, quickly drawing his plastic revolver and doing all kinds of tricks.
“I’ve seen it in a lot of movies, and I wanted and like to do it,” Jay said.
Like Ryder, Jay is the son of a well-regarded cutting horse trainer. But while the event was going on, he was locked into what his father was doing inside the arena.
Jay said he wants to be a cutting horse trainer like his dad when he grows up, but wants to focus his career on being a weekend bronco rider.
While both Jay and Ryder have a few years until they are able to compete in the Texas State High School Finals Rodeo, they both say they want to be the most entertaining and funny duo outside the arena.