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Hayden brothers hanging on to their dreams

Wyatt Uptain tries to hang on to his bronc Friday at the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo. Uptain and his brother, both Moffat County High School graduates living in Hayden, have big dreams in the rodeo world and are regulars at the weekly Steamboat series.
Joel Reichenberger

— Friday night wasn’t good to Wyatt Uptain.

The Moffat County High School graduate and Hayden resident has been a regular this summer at the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo series, riding in the saddle bronc competition, but more days than not have resembled Friday, he said.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t ride his horse.



He pulled up on on the horse, Passionate Kisses, and rode for the full eight seconds.

It was that he couldn’t score highly enough.



“Just a bad day, I guess,” Uptain said. “My season’s not going very good.”

Frustration and dry spells juxtaposed against a deep love for the sport: Those are, in many ways, the life of the cowboy, and despite the ups and downs, Wyatt Uptain and his younger brother, Garrett, are committed to living it.

Garrett Uptain missed this weekend in Steamboat but has made three of the six weekend performances so far this season. A May graduate of Moffat County High School, he’s hitting the rodeo circuit hard this summer before he leaves next month to begin college at Northern Wyoming Community College, where he’ll ride on the school’s rodeo team.

He’s had a bit more this summer in Steamboat than Wyatt, and most of that luck came all at once July 1, the first performance of the three-performance Fourth of July Cowboy Round-up Days event in Steamboat.

On the Steamboat rodeo’s biggest stage, he rode his saddle bronc, Pony Express, for 71 points and a second-place overall finish, worth $428.64 at the cashier window.

Things got even better when it came to bull riding. There, he took on the bull Seein’ Smoke and carded an 81. That won the weekend’s competition and earned him $1,124.64.

That’s not bad income for 16 seconds of work.

“Steamboat’s a (Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association rodeo), so that’s technically the biggest rodeo I’ve been to, but there isn’t the pressure of a big rodeo going there,” Garrett Uptain said. “It’s so close to home, and I’ve been there so many times, watching my brother compete or watching other guys compete, competing in Steamboat is just a very natural thing for me.”

The Fourth of July success was actually part of a four-rodeo weekend for the Uptain boys. They also hit up a rodeo in Meeker, another in Colburn and Garrett Uptain finished the trip off with a stop in Saratoga, Wyoming.

He roughly doubled his Steamboat winnings at those other rodeos.

If that weekend was the “up,” this last one was the down, and not just for Wyatt Uptain and his romp on Passionate Kisses.

Garrett traveled to Shawnee, Oklahoma, for the high school rodeo national championships. He tried both bulls and broncs, but couldn’t come away with a good ride.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I just didn’t have a very good weekend.”

About 900 miles away, in Steamboat, his brother knew exactly how he felt, as did every cowboy in between.

Wyatt Uptain, who’s been riding in Steamboat’s series for three years, said he just hasn’t had any luck there this summer but has found success elsewhere against similar competition. For instance, he won at that Fourth of July weekend stop in Meeker and again at a rodeo in Encampment.

Both Uptain brothers harbor big dreams in rodeo, hoping to make a career out of the sport they love. They hope to travel the region, even the country, hitting rodeos and banking big checks, eventually working their way to the annual National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

It won’t be easy, and it will take better nights than the brothers experienced this weekend but they have no problem waiting and working for those days.

“Sometimes, you do really well, and and its easy,” Garrett Uptain said. “Sometimes, you get in a slump, and you can’t ride anything. It happens to everyone. You just have to blow it off and keep going.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9


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