“Primetime” at the Junior NFR

The act has become an integral part of the Junior National Finals Rodeo.

During a break in the mini saddle bronc and mini bareback bronc events at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena, Casen Gines walks out on the arena floor wearing a gray jumpsuit and begins “cleaning” the dirt. He then finds a lone glove and puts it on. Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” begins playing over the speaker system and Gines starts to dance. He throws the glove to the ground and trades banter with Junior NFR announcer Steve Goedert before putting the glove back on and once again showing off his dance moves.

The 11-year-old, who is better known as Shorty “Primetime” Gines, is in his element.

“How many kids his age would be comfortable in front of a crowd?” asked Laci Demers, who serves as the promoter for both the saddle bronc and bareback events at the Junior NFR. “It’s one thing for these kids to nod their head and then ride their horses because they don’t worry about the crowd, that’s not on their minds. But when you take a young kid like that and put him out there you’re asking a lot.”

That’s fine with Gines. After all, the fifth-grader from Powell, Wyoming, has been doing this for a while.

“I started when I was 6 in Cody,” said Gines, referring to the Cody Nite Rodeo. “My first act was probably my Michael Jackson act. I have three acts, but we’re working on some different ones.”

At 11 years old, Gines already has his career path pretty well figured out. His mother, Codi Gines, said Casen and his older brother Caden had developed a love of rodeo at an early age after seeing pictures of their father, Colby, as a bull fighter.

“Shorty started out being a steer fighter,” she said. “And then he wanted a barrel so I built him a barrel, a little miniature barrel. I have to rewrap it for him all the time to keep it looking pretty. So he started out with baggies and being a steer fighter.

“And then he was a barrel man for the steers. And then it turned into him wanting to do clown acts. And then he started fighting the mini bulls because Caden took the money he made on selling his pigs and bought mini bulls.”

Shorty has become a regular at the Cody Nite Rodeo and he also has performed regularly at rodeos in northern Wyoming and Montana and at junior qualifiers. This summer he also took his show on the road to pro rodeos in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Evanston.

“My dad was a bullfighter, but I have a good sense of humor,” Shorty said. “My dad said clowning would be a good job, so I started clowning.”

While Shorty has focused primarily on perfecting his rodeo clown act, he also has thoughts of following in his dad’s footsteps and being a bullfighter.

“He can’t decide because he likes ‘em both,” his mother said.

His decision is complicated by the fact that he has role models in each profession to emulate.

Cody rodeo clown and barrel man Matt Tarr and legendary barrel man Justin Rumford, who was recently named the Clown of the Year for the seventh consecutive year by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, are obvious favorites. Shorty has worked closely with Tarr and has already attended two of Rumford’s rodeo clown schools.

As for bullfighting, Shorty not only has his father to look up to, but local bullfighter Dusty Tuckness, the seven-time PRCA Bullfighter of the Year.

Like all of those guys, Shorty Gines is more than a specialty act at the rodeo. He also competes – team roping, breakaway roping and ribbon roping – and is usually seen hanging out with the competitors when he isn’t preparing for his act.

“He comes to all the rodeos and he’s always around the kids,” Demers said. “And I think he’s going to be around a long time.”

Shorty Gines has a similar sentiment. When asked if his goal is to one day be in Las Vegas and performing at the Thomas & Mack Center for the National Finals Rodeo, a big grin came over his painted face and he gave an enthusiastic one-word response: “Yes!”

As for performing at the Junior NFR, Shorty “Primetime” Gines admitted that’s he is indeed nervous, but added that that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“I’m always nervous,” he said. “But my dad tells me that nervousness fuels the fire and it motivates you.”

Demers believes adding Shorty to the Junior NFR has been a winning proposition.

“You need those specialty acts and we chose to go with a kid,” she said. “It fits in with what we’re doing and we thought it would be great.

“We just wanted to show that there’s more to rodeo than the contestants and the stock and the horses. And we thought Shorty was a perfect fit.”

Cue the music.

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