By Kendra Santos
The Ford brothers are making the most of their first trip to Fort Worth. It’s a lot to take in for two teenaged South Dakota bucking-horse riders. But they’re letting their hair down in and out of the arena here, and having a big time. Bareback rider Kashton’s 16, and saddle bronc rider Jackson just celebrated his 18th birthday yesterday. Both Ford boys have advanced to Saturday’s Showdown Round, where they’ll square off against the big boys here at the $360,000 Cowtown Christmas Championship Rodeo.
“My goal is to be a 10-time world champion, and to win it my rookie year when I’m 18,” said Kashton, who’s fearless and has forged ahead and already graduated from high school at 16. “I want to be the best ever, so it’s fun and exciting to ride against guys of this caliber for the first time.”
Kashton advanced to Saturday’s Showdown Round with 78 points on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Quality Unhidden. He explained that his big brother and he—Joe and Marsha Ford’s boys—grew up on a ranch.
“We grew up helping Dad break colts on the ranch, but we live in town (Sturgis, South Dakota) now,” Kashton said. “I started out by getting on a bucking machine at Travis Clark’s, and Jamie Howlett has been my main coach since I started.
“I chose bareback riding because my dad did it. Our parents didn’t really want us in the same event, because we fought so much and are so competitive with each other. But we’re both back there cheering the loudest for each other when we ride.”
Jackson celebrated his 18th birthday with 85 points on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Scarlett from Hell to advance to Saturday’s Showdown Round.
“I asked for 86 points for my birthday, and got 85,” he grinned. “But I would have been happy with 80.
“Louie Brunson has always helped with practice and answering all my questions. JJ and Cole Elshere have helped me, too. All the saddle bronc riding tradition in South Dakota means a lot to me. South Dakota is our event’s home, and I want to make our state proud.”
As for having a big time here in Fort Worth, the Mount Rushmore State cowboys were off to play a round of Top Golf this afternoon.
“I like it here a lot,” big brother Jackson said. “Everything’s just more cowboy here. This is our first WCRA rodeo, and this is a cool thing to do as a family. My goal is to be the best. Why not take a shot at that Triple Crown of Rodeo million (which RC Landingham will ride at tomorrow night)?
“I was nervous when we got here, but when I have anxiety, I turn it into excitement. There are a lot of NFR guys here, but riding against them doesn’t change my mindset any. My only job is just to go out there and ride. We’re all going to do our jobs. It’s up to the judges after that.”