NEA youth competing at Junior National Finals Rodeo this week

Clay Roemer on a wild ride in Mountain View. Photo by Beth McCollum

Finals Held in Las Vegas, Nevada

Second Trip for Young Rider

BROOKLAND, Ark. – Many adults don’t have the fortitude and fearlessness of 6th-grader Clay Roemer from Brookland.

For fun, Clay rides bucking broncs and other beasts capable of squashing him under their massive weight. Not only that, he’s good at it. This week, Clay will return to the big stage for the second time in his young life as he competes at the Junior National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s quite a journey from the modest region that is Northeast Arkansas. Clay told NEA Report he hopes to shake some of the nerves he competed with the first time.

“The biggest thing is that I’m not as nervous about going to Vegas,” Clay said. “I’ve seen all the lights and know what it will be like.”

But there are more changes in the 6th grader’s repertoire than the sights. He said since he rode last year at the Vegas event, he’s started riding mini-saddle broncs plus mini-barebacks. He described it as a real challenge!

“That has been fun, but pretty hard to learn,” Roemer said. “Since I just started that this year, I don’t have as much experience, but it’s lots of fun. This year I qualified in mini saddle broncs for the JrNFR; last year I went in mini barebacks.”

Saddle-bronc riding begins at the Vegas event on Thursday, Dec. 7. The Junior NFR finals is set for the Monday after.

Last year, we learned about Clay’s fortitude. In 2015, he went into finals sitting second, but unfortunately broke his arm at a different rodeo the weekend before finals. Even then, he worked hard that weekend and came out in first place.

With his arm in a cast, Clay rides anyway. From 2015. Photo by Glennon Photos, submitted by Kerry Roemer

“In February I got stepped on by a huge red horse,” Clay told NEA Report. “It broke my middle finger right where it connects to my hand. It was pretty ugly, but it was my free hand. So, they made me this brace called a taco and I could still ride with no problems. Then I got to ride saddle broncs at a huge rodeo in Madison, Wisconsin. It was a direct qualifier to Vegas. I got bucked off and hit the ground really hard. That broke my right shoulder. That was no fun. I couldn’t ride for three months and basically had my arm strapped around my waist that whole time. It was really boring, and I had to work out a lot after it healed because I was really weak. But as soon as I got to ride, I started doing good again. Injuries don’t scare me; it’s just part of it.”

“The doctors at Jonesboro Orthopedic know me pretty well. They even have my picture in one of their rooms,” Clay Roemer said, laughing.

It’s hard work and grueling pain sometimes for a hobby, but Clay loves it. He said riding bucking horses is the “funnest thing ever.” As for if he will continue riding the bucking beasts forever, Clay said he has no idea what is ahead. He said he’s thinking of Vegas and next season, for sure.

“From the very first time I got to try it, it was just so much fun,” Clay said. “I get to travel, and I’ve made a lot of friends from all over. Older cowboys help me and teach me at schools and even at rodeos.”

Clay Roemer is at home on a saddle.

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