Kayden Little, 17, of Tatum, New Mexico, is hot off a second-place finish at the National High School Finals Rodeo with Maddy Deerman, and led the Junior NFR heeling standings at press time. He’s already a 9 heeler, and he won the Junior NFR’s 15-and-under division in 2017.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN TEAM ROPING?
When I was little, we lived in the city, and didn’t have horses or anything. But my dad bought me a dummy, and I roped it all the time. A few years later, we moved to a smaller town, and a local rancher named Brett Sterling gave me a 2-year-old filly. I learned to ride and my family and I learned to work with her. From there, Taylor Pettigrew taught me to rope. We showed goats and rabbits, and with the help of Brett we got some horses going. My dad roped a little when I first started roping, especially when nobody else would.
ON WHICH HORSES HAVE YOU BEEN
DOING ALL YOUR WINNING?
The one I’m riding right now came from Tee Wofford in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I call him Mojo and he’s 7. I have a grey horse that’s kind of young that I did most of the high school rodeos on named Moses, and he came from Lathe May.
WHO HAVE BEEN YOUR REGULAR PARTNERS?
Korbin Rice is my main partner. We’re roping in the high school rodeos. I’ve roped with Calvin Taylor a lot, too.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST
OR MOST FAVORITE WINS?
Winning second at the National High School Finals—plus Maddy and I won the state championships this year, too. I won the Junior NFR 15-and-under last year, but my biggest win was the World Junior Team Roping in Ardmore, Oklahoma. I roped with Kreece Thompson there.
WHO HELPS YOU WITH YOUR ROPING?
Taylor Pettigrew is my biggest mentor—more than just roping. I look up to him and my dad a lot. I would drive a few miles every day to Taylor’s place, and he’d turn me steers every day. He has helped me a lot with horses, saddles, hauling, and whatever I needed. Daryn Gonzales—he’s one of my best friends—but he’s helped me a lot with my roping, too.
WHAT ROPE DO YOU USE?
Rattler Radar 4 Medium
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR YOUR ROPING
I want to be the best that I can be. I want to be able to rope, but I want to focus on school and getting a good job so I can rope. I don’t want roping to completely control my life.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR YOUR EDUCATION?
I don’t know which college I’m going to yet, but I’m going into business or architecture. I’m thinking about college rodeo, but I’m not 100-percent sure yet.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2018?
For this year, I want to be the best I can be so I can keep going down the road and keep my horses working good. I won’t be able to go to the Junior NFR this year because I have to have shoulder surgery from a football injury. I won’t be able to rope from the beginning of December to the beginning of February. We figured out I won’t be able to go about a month ago, but it’s still fun to go to the Junior NFR ropings and help my headers get there.