Ty Blasingame grew up on a Ramah ranch with big rodeo dreams. A decade into his professional career, one of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's top team ropers hears the clock ticking with a growing family and the need to shift priorities to not miss any more of life's precious moments.
That's the dilemma of the full-time rodeo cowboy.
"I've been going hard since 2009, and I see it coming to an end," said Blasingame, who's headed to the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, which runs Wednesday through Saturday at the Norris-Penrose Event Center. "I want to make the National Finals Rodeo one or two more times, then I want to start sticking around home."
Blasingame's daughter, Kashlyn, turns 5 this month, getting ready to start school. And his wife, Mindy, gave birth to their second child earlier this year.
He's not there, and it takes a toll.
"Until this year, I took my family with me," Blasingame said. "I always said I'd never do this without my family. Since the new baby came along, I've been going by myself. I've seen families not be as tight that way. Being gone as much as I've been, I swore I'd never do that."
Blasingame, 29, qualified for the NFR in 2010 after barely missing the year before - he finished 17th, two spots from roping at the world's premier rodeo. He finished 21st and 18th the past two seasons.
In similar fashion, he finds himself in a familiar spot, 20th in the world standings, as the rodeo season ramps up to a fever pitch of lucrative events over a short period of time. In the past week, Blasingame roped in Livingston, Mont.; Mobridge, S.D.; and Mandan, N.D., before jumping in his truck for a cross-country drive to Window Rock, Ariz.
This week, he and heeling partner Matt Zancanella will head back north to Casper, Wyo., then rope at rodeos in Estes Park and Vernal, Utah, before two rounds at his hometown rodeo on Friday. The rodeo, a silver event on the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour, offered a purse of $455,000 last year, a potential payday to keep NFR dreams alive.
Blasingame looks forward to roping in front of familiar faces, but really hopes two solid times can land him a championship buckle.
"This is my hometown rodeo, and I want to win this one bad," Blasingame said. "I've been close. Last year, we took second in the first round, then I made a mistake the next round. The year before, we won the first round, then we come back and my partner missed. I remember coming here as a boy with my grandmother and have a lot of friends and family here."
He'll quickly depart Colorado Springs, almost as fast as he arrived. By this time next week, Blasingame will have his eyes set on the next handful of rodeos, highlighted by Nampa, Idaho, and the world-renowned Cheyenne Frontier Days.
The regular season ends Sept. 30, and if Blasingame finds himself in the top 15 among headers, he'll get the chance to rope at the $6.1 million NFR in Las Vegas in December.
If not, it won't be for lack of effort.
"No matter what, you got to keep going," Blasingame said. "The season is a grind. It's a battle and a huge mind game. I won my first two saddles when I was 9, and roping professionally became a dream of mine, watching guys like (seven-time world champion) Clay O'Brien Cooper. I wanted to make a living at this, to see what we have to do.
"It's sure not easy, but I have no regrets.