First things first, being a cowboy isn’t easy. It involves early mornings, hard work and long hours on the back of a beast that is known to buck every now and again. Pair that with the frigid temperatures in Sublette County, Wyoming, known as the "Icebox of the Country" due to having the lowest year-round temperatures, and anyone pursuing this job in this particular state has their work cut out for them.
It isn’t for everyone, but for folks like Shawn Butner and Casey Manning, cowboying was their calling and the only way to realize their dreams of collegiate rodeo championships.
Born and raised in Wyoming, both Shawn and Casey grew up knowing exactly what they wanted to do. Like most kids in the county, they learned to ride before they can remember and worked on the family ranch every season since then.
Shawn’s grandfather owned a cattle ranch, and he’s been roping since age three. Although he also rides broncos, rides bulls and does team rope events, his true passion is calf roping. He’s been winning buckles since his first competition at age 10, and won second place in the state rodeo.
He’s currently studying sports medicine while competing in college rodeo, and is working toward joining the Mid-States Rodeo professionally. The best advice he ever received, from his grandfather, is to bear down, even when things get a little heavy.
For Casey, competing in rodeos came naturally, as his family legacy is in riding broncos and bulls. He started at 15 and, after getting bucked off the first dozen times, everything clicked. Since then, he’s been bronc riding with the Central Wyoming College in the fall, and at amateur rodeos in the summer.
Although it’s his dream to be a professional rodeo competitor, and he just joined the PRCA, he’s aware of how tough that road is. He recently tore his ACL calf roping, an injury that’s common when dealing with unpredictable animals in high-stakes environments.
For Shawn and Casey, perseverance drives them through the challenges of this intense sport and family keeps them rooted in Sublette County, no matter how strongly they’re bucked.