• Jolene Hamilton

Family Tradition: Baylen Ward rides rank in honor of his late uncle Jeremiah

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

It's been a decade since Jeremiah Ward climbed onto the back of a bronc and busted out of the chutes at the Colorado Championship Ranch Rodeo in Hugo, Colorado.

But, every June during the annual event, twelve top hands from different states bear down to remember a man whose spirit is as legendary as the wild horses beneath them.

The cowboys battle for the cherished Jeremiah Ward Memorial championship title, then an ornery bronc with an empty rig leaps out of the chute to honor the man who liked them rank.

"When we remember someone, we like to do it in a way that epitomizes who they were," says event announcer Randy Lewis.

In the ten-year existence of the Jeremiah Ward Memorial, many bronc busters have claimed the title, but none more special than this one.

The crowd went wild as a lanky Baylen Ward lasted 8 seconds atop a wild bay named Big Boy. Before dismounting, the young cowboy removed his hat and waved it in the air with his free arm, a signature move of his late uncle.

Ward was all smiles as he entered the winners' circle alongside the Ward family and the man who tied with him for first, Tyler Smith.

In true cowboy fashion, Smith handed Ward the hardware with a handshake and a smile.

"It was easy to let Baylen take it since it was his uncle's event," says Smith. "I was happy to share the win with him."

Ward walked out of the arena carrying a shiny new buckle with his uncle's name etched in gold. Reminding us all that grit is legendary, and often, a family tradition.

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