ST. HENRY — Preston Crist, 13-year-old son of Keri Niekamp of St. Henry and Jason Crist of Greenville, is doing well on the rodeo circuit.
Even though this his second year of rodeo action, the teen is no stranger to horses or competition. He has been around horses all of his life and eventually began showing them and other animals at fairs and such.
“I have been riding horses since I was 6 days old,” said Preston, who apparently had a little help that first ride. “I started riding by myself when I was 5.”
He has won the Rolling M Rodeo in Springfield, winning a belt buckle, and this past summer, he won a saddle for his performance at the Lazy H Arena.
“Now I’m doing the Crazy Woman Ranch Rodeo in Lancaster, Ohio,” he said.
At the rodeos, the St. Henry Middle School seventh-grader runs barrels and poles and does team roping and breakaway contests with calves.
At the Mercer County Fair, he shows everything, including rabbits, pigs and horses, and he showed in pleasure at the Quarterhorse Congress. He used to show in the open classes at the Darke County Fair in horses and sometimes rabbits.
“I ride horses after school everyday,” he said. “There is a rodeo almost every weekend. Right now, I have three horses for the rodeo but I’m only riding two. They are Hoowey, Sonny and Henry. They are kept at Classy Ass Farms and Niekamp Circle.”
Yes, the hobby is expensive, but he believes with the prizes he has won “you’re getting more from what you put into it.”
“I win top-of-the- line buckles and stuff for my horses,” he said. “I would like to thank my sponsor…The Bootery, Classy Ass Farm Performance [owned by his father] and Ron Crist Auctioneering. I would also like to thank my parents, my stepfather Scott Niekamp and dad’s fiancee Haylie Harshbarger for letting me do it.”
Preston is also the grandson of Ron and Deb Crist of the Bradford area and Ernie and Deb Varvel of Arcanum, and stepgrandson of Roger and Becky Niekamp of St. Henry.
Preston plans on continuing his rodeo career in high school.
“When I’m a freshman I will be going to rodeo in four states.,” he said.”They’re fun. I get to be with friends.”
In the meantime, he will play football for eighth grade this summer and play baritone in the middle school band.