Are there cowboys in Tallapoosa County?
Twins Wyatt and Colton Allen of Dadeville were competing in team roping in their third National High School Rodeo Association Finals Rodeo in Nebraska last month when they silenced the crowd.
“The team right before was from Nebraska,” the twins’ father Ed Allen said. “It was home for them.”
The Nebraska team made an amazing run as the header put a rope around a steer’s horns and the heeler tangled the steer’s rear legs.
“They went 5.7 (seconds),” Allen said. “The crowd was cheering. The place was coming apart.”
Wyatt and Colton were backing their horses Woodrow and Tony in the chute as the rope was pulled in front. The crowd was still electrified after the run as the Allen twins signaled for the release of a steer. The Allen’s made quick work under the sound of 8,000 cheering fans.
“Here these boys from Alabama went 4.24 (seconds),” Allen said. “It kind of put a hush on the crowd, but they did cheer them on. They clocked the fastest ever time that has ever been recorded in the high school rodeo team roping national final. It was impressive.”
The time is super fast. It would have been the fastest time at the national college rodeo in June. It is fast enough to compete against many of the professionals.
“It would win most any rodeo you would go to,” Allen said. “It was awesomely fast. Everything came together. They had the perfect run. It would be in the top three almost everywhere.”
Wyatt said they have run similar times locally but not at big events.
The Allen twins made a decision early in life to pursue a life on horseback.
“The baseball folks live with a ball and bat in their hands,” Ed said. “(Colton and Wyatt) are with a horse and saddle. We played baseball for a while.”
But the twins made a choice years ago before their third season playing youth league baseball.
“Colton said, ‘Daddy, we have got something we need to talk to you about.’” Ed said. “‘What is it?’ ‘You need to pull over. It’s bad.’”
Ed pulled over in a parking lot before getting to the ballfield.
“Colton said, ‘We don’t want to play this baseball no more,’” Ed recalled. “‘We just want to rope.’ Ever since then, we have been full blast into it.”
And Ed is not kidding when he says ‘full blast.’ It was a months-long journey just getting to the national rodeo.
“We might have been home two, maybe three weekends since the beginning of the year,” Ed said. “Our weeks seem to run together. We ain’t been home. We left three weeks ago and went to Stevenville, Texas. That is where my oldest boy is in college. We left Stevenville and went to an international high school rodeo in Shawna, Oklahoma and stayed there four days to compete. We left there and went to Lincoln, Nebraska and stayed there seven days while they competed at the high school national final. We got home Sunday night.”
The trip had the family in a truck and pulling a trailer of horses for 4,500 miles over three weeks. But that is just the start — the family runs its own roping production company with 300 roping steers and 200 head of brood stock. After returning from Nebraska on Sunday, Ed went to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as the co-op director for Alexander City Schools while the boys tended to the farm.
“Thursday, we left to go to Montgomery to put on a roping that started Friday,” Ed said. “It went Friday Saturday Sunday and we got home Sunday night.”
But it was no relaxing journey from the rodeo to home as the family got to their Dadeville home about 11 p.m. after some work in Montgomery.
“We prepared the steers to head home,” Ed said. “We hauled all of ours home and a guy that provided some for us, he hauled his home.”
Then it was a 6 a.m. wake up call to move the steers around to distribute them amongst several pastures.
“It’s a business,” Ed said. “We put on ropings in Baker, Florida, two days, then two days in Andalusia in April. We do monthly ropings in Franklin, Georgia. We do Montgomery with the Southeastern Livestock Exhibition. We put the team roping on with them the same time the rodeo is going in.
“We provide cattle to a number of different places,” Ed said. “We have one roping in Rainsville, Fathers Day weekend. We have two ropings, one in July and one in August in Montgomery. We go back to Andalusia in October. We do a two-day roping in Franklin, Georgia the week before Thanksgiving. We stay gone a lot.”
The twins work beyond the family farm helping work cattle for other livestock owners. Ed’s oldest son went to Central Alabama Community College and is attending college on a rodeo scholarship in Texas, Colton and Wyatt will attend Southern Union Community College this fall.
Allen said the horse industry contributes $4 billion to Alabama’s economy every year with nearly $1 billion coming from the roping side.
“That includes team roping, calf roping and break away roping,” Ed said. “It has been really good for us. We had to work hard at it. It’s not a push a pencil job that you will make a lot of money at because you made the right decision. You can lose a lot of money if you make the wrong decision.”
The father is proud of his boys and the time the family hobby allows him to spend with them.
“It’s constant,” Ed said. “There is never a dull moment here, ever. We are always working.
“I guess we are as close you can get to the modern day cowboy as there is. They live it, breathe it and sleep it.”