By Tristine Toyn
Not too many 14-year-olds have had a chance to participate in a world competition, but Darien Johnson can say he has and will again. This young cowboy has had an amazing year. In October of 2016, he qualified to go to the Western States Regional qualifier and then onto the Jr. NFR in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Darien is the son of Casey and Chanelle (Toyn) Johnson. His mother, Chanelle, is a former Morgan resident, and Darien’s grandmother and aunt still reside in Morgan County.
Darien gained an interest for rodeo a few short years ago. He tried his skills out on calves and steers for a couple years and then moved on to mini bulls. He has been riding for the Legacy Youth Rodeo Association and the Utah Youth Rodeo Association for about four years.
It wasn’t until March 2016 that he decided to add bareback to his list. His dad, who also rode bareback horses, asked if he wanted to try it out, so “I hopped on a horse and it just stuck,” says Darien.
His love for the sport quickly developed as he continued to practice and work hard to get better. In 2015 he placed first in the bareback event, which qualified him to compete in the 2016 Mountain States Regional qualifier in Rock Springs, Wyom. From there he went on to compete at the 2016 Jr. NFR in Las Vegas, Nev.
While in Vegas last year, he placed 13th overall. It was huge accomplishment t for a young cowboy who had only been riding bareback horses for a few short months. The top 15 contestants qualified to go on the 2017 World Circuit Tour. Out of the contestants who would compete, the top eight of them would get their chance at the 2017 Jr. NFR.
Placing in the top eight just wasn’t a high enough goal for Darien. He had his eyes set on winning. Darien was able to travel across the U.S. on several tour stops at some of the most famous rodeos. Darien had tour stops in Odessa, Texas; Hamilton, Mont.; Bryan, Texas; Marysville, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Navasota, Texas; Evanston, Wyom.; San Francisco, Calif.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. He was able to compete in PRCA rodeos including Sandhill’s Stock Show, Grimes County Fair, Bryan Lions Club PRCA, Marysville Stampede, Cow Palace, and the infamous Days of 47. Darien had nine tour stops and placed first in five of them, leading him to a No. 1 spot in the world heading into the 2017 JR. NFR.
A couple weeks ago while practicing, Darien came off a horse and got hung up. In the process he broke his nasal cavity and hand. For a quick second he thought his dream had come to an end; however that was short lived. He has been blessed with good news that no surgery will be required. However, he was told that he will not be able to compete using his right hand. But don’t think that this would stop a kid with a diehard attitude; instead he will be riding left handed. Now that is some dedication and hard work.
His hard work and dedication has awarded him several buckles and most of all, his spot at the world championship in Las Vegas in December. Darien has had so many businesses, family and friends to support him. He is so grateful for all of the graciousness and love that people have shown to him as he shoots for his dreams.
If you would like to donate to medical bills or to his trip to Las Vegas, you can do this on gofundme.com or email his mother at firstname.lastname@example.org.