Keenan Hayes of Colorado defies naysayers and excels in day one of Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo | Sports

Keenan Hayes is hard-headed by nature, it makes sense that he found a love in bareback riding.

He grew up on his grandparents’ ranch, with training cows and horses so he originally got his feet wet – freshly caught by Hayes’ dad.

Now, still on his riding license until 2023, Hayes is here to prove that a Colorado-bred rider, straight from Hayden, CO, can be as good as anyone else.

Hayes stayed for the required eight seconds and captured a second-place finish with an 80.5 after day one of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo at the Norris Penrose Events Center on Wednesday.

The quick start comes just months after Hayes claimed victory on the Mountain States Tour in Loveland, CO.

“It’s the biggest amount of money I’ve competed for,” Hayes said. “I had known most of these guys for two years, so it was even more fun with a rodeo family.”

Hayes only had to earn $1,000 to qualify to redeem his license. By the time he was ready to go, scoring had already started and would have cut his points season short – so he decided to wait.

Across the country and at several events in Colorado, Hayes has already racked up over $50,000 in prize money. He was never one to take “no” for an answer and fell in love with the sport that pushes stubbornness to the limit.

“I just want to make a name for myself,” Hayes said. “I made a lot of money early on and decided to wait a year. I used to wrestle and it’s a similar event – just a fistfight from the start.

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“If I have to do something, I don’t just want to go out and donate money, I try to be the best.”

Hayes even adds to his skills by giving back.

He is part of a group that organizes Bronco camps and helps teach the fundamentals of the sport to young minds. When he starts to rust in his thinking, he bounces right back after teaching it.

As a child, his family did the same for him, which started him on the path, as well as a challenge to anyone who told him he couldn’t.

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The same groups that have supported and taught him plan to be around Saturday for Hayes’ semi-final unless a score beats him before – although a top two finish on day one puts him in good stead. Otherwise, he will immediately return to the mountain road to participate in another event.

No one is harder on him than him – after the ride he had already thought of multiple criticisms of himself. Fixes will come just as quickly, it’s just the nature of Hayes.

Clyde P. Johnson