Father-son team win DEF roping event

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Father-son team win DEF roping eventElijah and Wyatt Soto have a lot to celebrate. The father-son team won the Team Roping Competition at the Desert Empire Fair’s rodeo. Elijah is now entered in the “World Series of Team Roping” event, set for Dec. 10 and 11 in Las Vegas.

“I think the best job is being the header,” said Wyatt, 13. “I’m good at throwing a lasso. You’ve got to turn the steer.”

The header, on horseback, rides up on the left side of the steer, then ropes its head and turns it. The heeler rides up on the right side of the steer as the steer goes down on its side and ties the steer’s feet. “That’s what my dad was doing,” said Wyatt, who is in eighth grade at Murray Middle School.

Wyatt, who has ridden a horse from a very young age, started roping when he was nine. “My dad taught me forever,” he said.

Wyatt has already participated in a lot of competitions. “This is the first time I’ve ever won anything this big. It made me very happy. I was very excited.”

Elijah has been roping “since age 12 or 13, the same age my son is now. This will be our fourth year competing.”

The Soto family lives near Inyokern. Family members own eight horses, two of which, “Homer” and “Black,” belong to Wyatt.

“I try to ride just about every day,” said Elijah. “There’s an arena at my parents’ house next door, and we go there to practice. Wyatt has been in Junior Roping since he was big enough to get on a horse, as well as my younger son, Aden.

“It’s a family sport. My family’s been doing it for many years. It keeps the kids busy taking care of the horses and competing. There are very responsible and respectable people in rodeo, people you want your kids to grow up around and respect.

“I was really happy to see them bring rodeo back to our town, and not have to go outside the area. There are a lot of people up and down the Owens Valley, involved with working cattle, so lots of local people actually rope and compete.”

The World Series of Team Roping carries up to $4 million total in prizes, over the five days of the competition. Two other men from this area will be entering as well — James Mann from Tehachapi and Skylar McCullar from Trona.

“The World Series is the richest roping competition in the world,” said Elijah. “They give away more money that anywhere else. The National Finals are going on in Las Vegas at the same time, so for 10 days, the whole town will be full of cowboys and cowgirls.”

Elijah will be teaming up with another adult, since the rules require that entrants be age 18 and older, so Wyatt will be watching and cheering for his dad from the stands, with Aden and mother Michelle Soto.

“I’m going to cheer real loud,” said Wyatt.

Story First Published: 2013-11-27