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22-year-old Berry adds more calf-roping wins to his resume

James Berry practices roping a calf at his ranch in order to prepare for future rodeos. Berry estimates that he practices roping between 50-60 calves a week to prepare for rodeos. (Brittany Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat)
James Berry practices roping a calf at his ranch in order to prepare for future rodeos. Berry estimates that he practices roping between 50-60 calves a week to prepare for rodeos. (Brittany Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Most young boys have dreams of becoming a football star or a doctor, but for 22-years-old James Berry Jr., it is all about riding.

Horse riding that is. Berry has been riding horses and competing in calf roping competitions around the world since he was 7 years old.

He became interested after watching his father ride, and Berry just seemed to have a natural talent for the sport.

“When I was young, my dad started me riding horses and all my friends rode and did rodeos,” he said. “As I got older, I got better and better and I decided I want to take it on to the pro level.”

Seeing his full potential, his father, James Berry Sr., focused his time in getting his son prepared to become a calf-roping champion.

Now, 15 years later, Berry Jr. is a professional calf-roper who has won more than 20 professional competitions with his horse, Cash.

The latest came Nov. 2 when Berry placed first in the calf-roping competition in the Louisiana Rodeo Cowboys Association Finals Rodeo in Monroe, La.

Next up for Berry is the National Black Rodeo Finals in Shreveport, La., Nov. 16.

Until then, Berry will be practicing every day to get ready.

Berry practices roping a calf at his ranch Wednesday afternoon in Natchez. (Brittany Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat)
Berry practices roping a calf at his ranch Wednesday afternoon in Natchez. (Brittany Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat)

Training for a calf-roping competition is more than just repeatedly chasing after a calf. It requires strength and condition training, as Berry is required to run to and lift a calf as quickly as he can.

The average calf used in rodeos will weigh about 200 to 300 pounds.

“It’s just like any other sport such as football and basketball,” Berry said. “You have to work out. You have to run and practice every day. Once you get to the pro level, this is my job. This is what I do every day, ride and rope.

“Both (me and my horse) have to be in shape, because you have to jump off the horse and flank the calf. It’s a lot of hard work. We can’t go out there not practicing every day, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Berry said he practices roping approximately 50 calves every day as he prepares to compete in more professional competitions. His next pro competition will be in January as he travels to San Angelo, Texas.

Berry said his ultimate goal is to reach the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, where only the top 15 calf-ropers are qualified to compete.

“I want to make it there,” he said. “I have to be in the top 15 in the world on the pro level. I just have to keep winning associations all over the world.”

 

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