Cowboy Up

Cowboy Up

by Susan Neuhalfen

Argyle is not without its celebrities. Among them a rodeo champion ranked 2nd in the world. He is fearless, tough as nails and getting ready to compete for the World Champion title in Las Vegas.

Here’s the kicker: He’s 9 years old and 55 lbs.

Meet Lelo Henderson, a Hilltop Elementary 3rd grader who is competing in the Junior NFR Mini Bare-Back Riding Championship.

Lelo got his start riding sheep at the North Texas Fair in Denton and, as the reigning Mutton-Busting Champion, he was retired at the ripe old age of six. He began riding calves for two years before discovering mini bucking horses. Despite being one of the youngest in his category he proved that he could hold his own by winning a direct qualifier to Las Vegas in 2016, two weeks after he got his cast off following a broken arm.

“The funny thing was he broke his arm at school,” said his mother, Deborah Henderson. “It had nothing to do with getting bucked off a horse.”

This year, he will compete in the 9-11 year old category, so he’ll be competing with kids just about to turn 12 years old and over 75 pounds.

“He gets down in that chute and becomes a different person. He’s so focused and systematic,” said Deborah. “The crazy thing is, later he’ll be running around playing with his cowboy buddies.”

Lelo practices 3-4 days a week on a spur board with hide thrown over the top to stay prepared and in shape not only physically but mentally for the upcoming championships which will be held at the beginning of December.

Because the tour is technically over October 1, any rodeo participation at this point is by invitation only which is where sponsorship becomes so important. Lelo has the support of many Argyle businesses including his father’s business, JHL Fencing & Welding, as well as Orchid Hill Farms, Resistol Hats, CNN Mortgage’s Joe Bartram, Rapid Med and the Argyle Youth Sports Association (AYSA) among many, many others. Without them, it would be very hard for him to participate as much as he does. The Henderson Family is thankful for them all.

“Argyle has really gotten behind Lelo,” said Deborah. “Securing sponsors, especially ones who are as supportive as the ones here in North Texas are, is a big deal.”

Believe it or not, Lelo does play basketball and baseball and loves to fish when there is time. He lives in Argyle with his parents and his sister, Neva, who is a freshman at Argyle High School. Deborah says she’s a volleyball mom and her husband is a rodeo dad in order for both kids to participate in the sport of their choice.

“The times I’m not there to watch Lealond compete, I know his father has it covered whether it be safety or guidance,” said Deborah. “Every time the chute gate is opened it makes my heart race.”

For those interested in helping, a gofundme page has been set up to offset the costs of Lelo’s Las Vegas trip at www.gofundme.com/our-local-cowboy.


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