We all remember our first buckle—where we won it, what we won it for and the thrill it was to get that first big win under our belts. As time marches on, many a first buckle gets tossed in a drawer and replaced on our belts by one that seems shinier because it represents a bigger win. Not this time—not even when the buckle is for fourth in the #7 roping. Not after it took Braxton Lambert two years of practice-pen runs to catch his first steer.
Braxton is the 30-year-old son of Casey and Brandi Lambert of El Paso, Texas. He’s on the autism spectrum, and this is a family that’s never let that stop their first-born son from taking life by the horns.
If Casey’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s a famous jockey who rode in 22,000 races—and won nearly 3,400 of them—before hanging up his silks at 50. Casey’s training racehorses now. He’s also a lifelong team roper.
Braxton’s little brother, Kyler, played baseball through college. Braxton didn’t ride much as a kid, either, but has found the perfect pursuit in team roping, thanks to two loving, patient parents and a faithful palomino horse they thank constantly and call Ken.
“Roping has done unbelievable things for Braxton as an adult on the autism spectrum,” Casey said. “He got into following NASCAR when he was little, and could tell you every tiny detail about it all. Braxton’s brilliant. He has a mind like Rainman. He took up team roping a few years ago, and practiced for two years before he caught his first steer.”
But oh how sweet it is when persistence pays. Buckets of blood, sweat and tears could not derail Braxton’s dedication and determination to crack the team roping code.
Braxton’s a #3 roper now, and won his first buckle this spring for fourth in the #7 at the NTR roping in their hometown of El Paso after drawing Arizona’s Rudy Willie to heel for him.
“It was really cool, and Braxton had the best time,” Casey said. “I know where Braxton got his passion for roping from—me.”