12-year-old Aiden Lane Treetop has been riding in rodeo competitions since he was three years old.
“Since he started, he’s been kicking butt and taking names. He’s got natural talent, he works his butt off,” said his grandfather, Justin LaRock.
That practice over the years is paying off. Earlier this week at the Junior World Finals in Texas, Treetop placed second best in the world in Saddle Bronc, a category of riding.
“I took second in the second round, Reserve Champion Saddle Bronc, and that’s the buckle,” Treetop said.
Treetop’s grandfather has been by his side the entire time — taking him to competitions, making him a spur-board to help practice and sending him to rodeo schools for training.
“He’s living my dream. I didn’t have an opportunity like this when I was his age. Either you run with the big boys in the NFR or you stay at home,” LaRock said.
The sport isn’t cheap — traveling to compete, plus saddles and other equipment can cost thousands of dollars.
“There was a time there when he first started we didn’t have support. It was just me and him,” LaRock said.
But since Treetop’s success in past competitions, he’s gotten businesses and those in the community to sponsor him.
“They’re just here to boost me, give me that extra boost. Here to support me and thank them all for that and my sponsors. Would’ve never got to Texas and back without my sponsors,” Treetop said.
Treetop says his goal is to go pro and beat Trevor Brazile, a retired rider he got to meet who holds the record for the most world champion titles. His grandfather has other ideas.
“I’ll be happy with one gold buckle. I’d like to take one with me when I go,” LaRock said.
“I’m just glad I’m doing something with my life,” Treetop said.
Treetop was the only rider this year to represent North Dakota at the finals. He even got to display the state flag when he was introduced at the competition.