ALMA — Cowboys better watch out. This 12-year-old cowgirl is nothing to be taken lightly as she backs into the roping box.
Matter of fact, every cowboy or cowgirl of any age — or level of rodeo competition — has learned to pay attention when the name Caxton Martin shows up on the entry list.
If the Alma ranch cowgirl is there, it’s with the intent to win, and she’ll certainly do everything to make that a reality.
“I was the only girl who made the short-go-round out of 110 contestants in the 12-and-under boys and girls breakaway roping, and then got second in that round, ended up sixth in the average,” Martin last week after a weekend of roping.
In the breakaway event, contestants mounted on horseback are required to come from a standstill out of a starting box and rope a calf with their lariat only tied to the saddle horn by a twine string.
Time stops when the roped runaway calf breaks the string, with some of the fastest runs in just very few seconds.
The daughter of Alma ranchers Chris and Candi Martin and a Prairie Heights Middle School honor student is sister to Cooper Martin — still a high school student but already a champion roper and a complete story in his own right.
After the dust settled from the United Rodeo Association (URA) Finals at Topeka just a couple of weeks earlier, Martin was named runner-up Rookie Cowgirl of the Year. That’s against all cowgirls, many considerably older, and in a nine-state region, too.
“This was my first year competing in the URA, which made me a rookie, and I won the second largest amount of money among all of the rookie cowgirls competing this year. I just entered in URA barrel racings this year, but I intend to ride in other events in the future,” Martin said.
To claim the runner-up rookie cowgirl distinction, Martin collected $4,183.02 in winnings in URA barrel racing.
“I went to about 14 URA rodeos in Kansas, Missouri and Iowa during the past year,” Martin said.
In addition to winning local rodeo prize money, Martin competed in the finals at Topeka.
“I was fourth in the third go-round, and then ended up sixth in the year-end URA barrel racing standings,” Martin said.
Bear in mind, this barrel racing was against all comers—cowgirls of all levels of ability, including those who’ve qualified for the National Finals Rodeo annually in Las Vegas as members of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.
Just before the URA finals, Martin had been asked to compete in the American Royal Invitational Youth Rodeo at Kansas City. This time she was facing cowgirls eighth grade and under, and Martin proved time and again the best.
“I had some really good runs and placed first in both breakaway roping and barrel racing in both the long-go-round, and in the finals,” Martin said.
As if she doesn’t sound busy enough, Martin is also a regular in Junior High Rodeo Association competitions, and finished the Kansas year-end standings first in barrel racing, fourth in breakaway roping and third in goat tying, another event in her all-around cowgirl repertoire.
Just as notable, Martin was selected to the Kansas Junior High Rodeo Academic Team for her classroom efforts, as well.
Her state year-end standings earned Martin the right to compete at the National Junior High School Rodeo Finals in Gallup, New Mexico, during June — where she finished eighth in barrel racing and in the top 20 in breakaway roping.
Listing accomplishments is easy, but getting there is the tough part.
There are three basic requirements: an athlete, a top horse and lots of practice.
“I’m really fortunate to have outstanding horses. I use Trigger, my palomino gelding, for breakaway roping and goat tying. He might not be real big, but Trigger is mighty. I’ve been riding him four years,” Martin said.
“Lucky is a top barrel horse. He’s a sorrel gelding I’ve had about three years, and he’s a great athlete. I won fifth in the average at the URA finals with Lucky being sick, which shows how big of heart he has.”
Conditioning is as important as practicing, she said.
“I ride my barrel horse at a long trot for several miles at least every other day to keep him in shape.
“I practice roping off my other horse three times a week minimum, usually 10 to 15 calves at a time — depending on the day — right here at our home ranch arena, with our own practice calves,” Martin said.
Every day she’s not entered somewhere, Martin is practicing.
“With less daylight this time of year, after I get out of school, I have to really hurry to get done before dark. But, I don’t let anything keep me away from practice anymore,” she said. “Whenever I have, it showed up at the next rodeo.”
Going down the road is expensive, and Martin knows it, because she’s responsible for her own entry fees.
“I’m fortunate that Cooper is competing at the same time, and that our parents are willing to help haul us to the events. But I’m entirely responsible for the expenses when I get there,” she said.
“I have to keep close tabs, though. I’ve been doing good enough to make some money and sometimes even help with the gas costs. I try to always save some, too, because you can’t win every time.
“And I’m always on the lookout for a different and better horse, so I need to have the money available for that, if the time arises.”
Coaching is necessarily at any level of competition, and Martin feels fortunate that her parents and brother are capable, and always willing to offer advice.
“They are very helpful in everything. Cooper is such a good roper, and he really assists me a lot. My parents and Cooper are all very good supporters,” Martin said.
However, Martin and her champion roper-brother do not share horses.
“I ride mine, and he rides his. That’s just the way it is, and it always works out to the best that way. Horses are so important to each of our success, there’s no reason for one or the other of us to mess up the other’s horse.
“That’s why we’re always on the lookout for horses to keep us mounted the best we can be at all times,” Martin said.
Martin said she really hasn’t looked too far beyond high school for education, in part because of all the competition anticipating competition in high school rodeos.
But her long-term future seems set.
“I plan to rodeo,” she said. “I intend to compete in barrel racing at the National Finals Rodeo.”
In the meantime, Caxton Martin plans to win events in any type of competition — cowgirls, cowboys, young, old, regardless of level or division.
And in any event, from roping to barrel racing to goat tying to whatever else is available.
Martin is a cowgirl in a hurry.