By Kevin Wilson
The final roper in Friday’s No. 11 competition got set to enter the south pen at the Curry County Events Center. The announcer for the Joe’s Boot Shop Roping event said 16-year-old Landon Koehn needed a 10.56 to win the average and net himself a saddle and a nice chunk of cash.
As Landon’s father gave his son final instructions, he missed the announcement and wondered aloud about what time his son needed.
“Who cares? I’ve just got to rope him,” Landon said, and did exactly that with a 10.39, winning like he’s done so many other times at the Joe’s Boot Shop event.
Landon, who also won the second round and pocketed about $3,000, said sometimes it’s as simple as clearing out your mind.
“I just say, ‘Hey, I’m just going to rope,’” Landon said, “and everything takes care of itself.”
Roping’s taken care of itself quite often for the family, and frequently at Clovis. The family almost always makes the nearly-nine-hour drive to Clovis from Salina, Kan. While Chad Koehn, Landon’s father, sets up the trip and goes to compete as well, Landon does a lot of the winning.
“Twice, he’s won $5,000 here; he’s been really lucky here,” Chad said while Landon went to get his picture taken and claim his winnings. “I first brought him here when he was 8 years old. I took him here as soon as he could do it. He’s been better than me since he was 11.”
There are numerous “lone wolf” riders at the roping event and at rodeo events across the country, who come in solo and depend only on themselves. But there are plenty of teams like the Koehns, who run a 1,000-head ranch outside of Salina, Kan.
Chad also runs an investment and trust company in Salina, which is the main way he supports the family.
“A lot of us have other sources of income,” Chad Koehn said. “A pure rancher nowadays really can’t afford this. A lot of us ranched and roped as kids, then went to the city and got a job.”
The dream, of course, is to throw the office lifestyle to the side, but there’s a certain joy in providing a better opportunity for your children. Chad has three sons — Landon, 15-year-old Jess and 12-year-old Ty. Ty never has taken a passion to roping like his older brothers, but Chad reminds himself that, “it’s a good thing Jim Carrey’s parents didn’t encourage him not to be a clown in school; now he’s making $12 million a movie.”
Landon’s not making nearly that much — a few thousand dollars and a really nice saddle usually covers it — but he knows the success is wholly attributed to his family. His dad lets him practice for hours at a time on the ranch and usually takes care of all the details so Landon usually only has to think about roping.
Oh, and there’s the other family member, Roper. The appropriately-named horse is the preferred horse of the five the family brought to Clovis, and is no stranger to media attention himself. Roper has been featured in numerous publications for his continued work in rodeo despite losing his right eye to glaucoma and equine recurrent uveitis. The eye was removed in a procedure done at the Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University and replaced with a prosthetic.
The Koehns left Clovis Friday, despite the chances of bigger money in the Saturday competitions. Again, family — Jess and Landon compete in the Kansas high school circuit, where they represent Southeast of Saline High School in Gypsum. It’s the same reason Landon missed the Joe’s Boot Shop event entirely last year.
“I wouldn’t want to let him down,” Landon said. “It’s just like any other team sport. I wouldn’t skip a football game, either.”