Cowboy way of life a passion for Sumter teen

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By Brenda Locklear

 When you learn a little about Karter Kagel’s background, it might not surprise you that he recently took the state high school championship roping win and is on his way to vie for the national title.

An only child, “cowboying” was something Karter loved right away.

His dad, John W. Kagel said aside from the fact that both he and his wife, Linda, ride, it goes even further into her background. She grew up on a dairy farm with horses. 

“She didn’t quit riding until about three months,” before Karter was born.

“And he just came out a cowboy,” his dad said.

While he’s not getting rich as a cowboy, he is making some money.

He has some sponsors who help with supplement for the horses and the cost of his ropes from his sponsor, Lone Star Ropes, but otherwise, he does most of that himself.

His dad said he’s earned about $100,000 in roping competitions - he earned $1,700 at an event in Trenton this month.

He does everything from giving younger kids lessons to training horses as a sideline - something his 

His dad said he makes several hundred dollars a month training horses for other people.

“When you’re at home, you just have to practice. You can’t just mess around, you’ve got to treat it like it’s everything.”

And when he’s competing, you have to “be consistent,” have a game plan and go “as fast as you can.”

He started teaming with his current partner this year.

In July, they’re heading for Shawnee, Ok. and Rock Springs, Wyoming where Karter will compete - youth finals in Oklahoma and the high school championship in Wyoming.

“To win Florida and go out west, it’s a big deal. He’s worked really hard to get where he’s at. 13 years of hard work,” said his dad.

“It’s kind of the cowboy way. It’s kind of a passion.”

Do the bronc riding and other aspects of the trade ever scare them as parents?

“It scares you a little, because it’s your kid,” but at the same time, he said, “You gotta live and I guess you kind of learn the cowboy way.” “It’s a dying breed and he gets lots of respect - he’s really, really good at what he does. It’s almost like he was born 100 years too late.”

At 17, he’s worked with, and on, local ranches as well and has already roped in competition for a brand new dually pick-up, losing by one steer.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” his dad said.

Karter also rides saddle broncs and works his own herd of cattle.

“I started riding a horse when I was three and a half years old. I had a pony before that.”

And by then, he had already been dragging ropes around the property. The family lives on 10 acres in Wildwood, but has several cow leases in other locations, he said.

Karter got his first horse before he was four years old, but she has since gone on to work for some other young children.

“Glitter, that was my first, without her - heck I don’t know - she dang sure started it all. She took me a long way.”

These days, he’s riding Caterpillar, Hank and Hodge.

Karter went to Lake Pansoffkee Elementary School, the Villages charter schools and is about to graduate South Sumter High School, according to his dad.

His agritulture teacher, Patty Wells said, “Four years ago I was at a youth ranch rodeo that was a fundraiser for Mike Rosa. I noticed a kid that could really ride a horse well. He had a good seat on him. Two years later I have the same young man in my Ag class.”

“That same kid that rode so well was now in my classroom. What a great kid! Intelligent, good manners and always willing to lend a hand above and beyond regular classroom expectations.  He has traveled all over the United States, going from one roping to the next. It’s hard to believe that a kid his age can have so many funny stories to tell, but he does! He said his dad always roped and his mom ran the cow horses.”

Kagel said since the time he began riding, he has had one goal - world champion.

“It was pretty much natural to me,” he said of riding horses.

“They brought me home from the hospital and sat me on a horse.”

As for being thrown, “Once or twice,” he said.

“Sometimes you can’t help it,” he said of dealing with some of the younger horses.

It happens when he’s riding other people’s horses.

His parents, “... pretty much go along with it and smile.”

“He’s an all around cowboy. Two schools in Texas and one in Arkansas are interested in him. His college will be paid,” his dad said.

“Rodeoing has kind of always helped me through school,” he said, mentioning the offers he has for college - full ride scholarships. But even knowing his college is paid for, Karter has talked about going to work at a “feed lot in Nebraska for two years, just to ride horses up and down the lane with cattle.”

It doesn’t pay much, but it may be something he chooses to do temporarily.

While he laughed and said it’s probably not the smartest thing he’s considered, he has a love for what he does.

“A lot of kids love throwing a football and I guess I never got it. I played football for two weeks,” and that was enough for him - he was done.

“I wanted to go rope.”

And later in life, he definitely hopes to make pro rodeo and eventually world champ.

In the long run, “I’d definitely like to have a ranch with some cows and property,” he said.

But he’d really like to move out west, where it’s “more open,” and there’s “more rodeoing.”

At the same time, his family’s construction business is in Florida, so it’s likely he’ll be here, taking over one day, he said.



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