Taming fires and horses, Berthoud firefighter heads to roping competition in Las Vegas
By May Soricelli – Public Information Officer, Berthoud Fire Protection District
One of Berthoud Fire Protection District’s firefighters, Kyle Stricklin, has been roping steer his entire life and is currently en route to Las Vegas, Nev., to compete in the World Series of Team Roping Finale with an ambition to win a portion of the jackpot.
Before the days of taming fires as a Berthoud Firefighter, at the age of 5, Stricklin’s father Joe introduced him to the world of roping. A cowboy through and through, Stricklin grew up on a ranch with many horses, and grew a fondness for them at an early age. When his sister and he were old enough they learned how to rope steer with their dad. Stricklin says his sister never really took to the activity, but he enjoyed it so much he’s still roping today. “I grew up doing it [cattle roping]. That’s just what we did as kids. It made me feel special, because not a lot of kids did that, and I got to grow up doing it.”
In 2000 Stricklin’s family moved to Colorado from Texas, when he was a freshman in high school. Once out of high school Stricklin began working for the Bureau of Land Management Forest Service for several years, and it was there he found his second passion in life – firefighting. In 2014 Stricklin became a Reserve/Volunteer Firefighter for Berthoud Fire Protection District, and after two years, on Jan. 1, 2016, Stricklin joined the ranks at the fire house as a full-time career firefighter. “I like helping people. Being able to come to work knowing I get to help people is very gratifying. It’s an honor to help strangers and make someone’s bad day a little better,” Stricklin said with heartfelt conviction.
The man loves a challenge. Whether at work or out at the ranch, Stricklin loves to take on the tasks that require strength and determination, including taming horses. “They’re stubborn,” Stricklin said. “I like taking a horse that’s green and turning him. They are creatures of habit. And they are just like people, because they are all different.”
At the firehouse the challenges are limitless, including the rigorous training, the ever-evolving types of emergency calls, and constant opportunities as a firefighter to serve the community. The ranch is a different story. The pace is slower, Stricklin says, and the challenge of taming horses for riding is peaceful. “It’s good to go out and relax and there’s days it’s a pain. With work [at the fire station] there’s times you need to be in a hurry. So, I get off work and go saddle a couple of horses and take it easy the rest of the day. There is a slower pace.”
Stricklin and his dad have always traveled around the state and the country to compete in team roping. The travel and excitement is something Stricklin enjoys.
Team roping consists of a two-member team, both mounted on horses, who compete in the quickest time to rope a steer. One person is the “header” and will work to get a rope looped around the horns or head of the steer. The other team member is the “heeler” which will simultaneously rope the steer by its hind feet. In their competitions Stricklin is the heeler and his father is the header. “The faster the time, the better you do.” Stricklin said.
Every weekend he is not on shift at the fire station Stricklin participates in roping competitions locally and practices back at his home. Stricklin and his father have had a lot of success in team roping, including a recent $10,000 jackpot they won at a competition at The Ranch in Loveland.
The duo is now headed to participate in the World Series of Team Roping Finale at the South Point Hotel & Casino Equestrian and Event Center Las Vegas where they will compete in four rounds of roping on Dec. 15. Stricklin is most eager to compete for a portion of the $20 million jackpot that is split between the top 41 teams. If he won, Stricklin says, “I would buy a house and a boat load of land, enough to keep my horses.”
Stricklin is an incredible firefighter and servant of the community. As he trades his fire helmet in for a cowboy hat over the next couple of weeks everyone at the firehouse is wishing him the best of luck.
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