COLUMBIA FALLS — Rodeo is integrated in Montana's culture as a true community event and one Kalispell man, Ryan Ehmann, is giving back to his community by coaching the next generation of bareback riders.
"I have the mindset that every ride for me I just want to be an inspiration to these young kids," said Ehmann, a former PRCA bareback rider. "I want them to realize that, man, this guy's 51, how is he physically able to do that? And it's like, guys, you stay away from the partying, and the drinking, and you gravitate more towards the gym and taking care of yourself, taking care of your body."
One 13-year-old rider who’s been learning under Ehmann knows he couldn’t ask for a better teacher.
"It's amazing," said Daxton Hudson. "He's a great guy, he shows me a lot a lot of workouts and stuff and it helps me out a lot."
Hudson is one of many young riders learning from Ehmann, just like 9-year-old Leo Boucher.
"This is my fourth year," said Boucher with a smile.
And when asked what his favorite part of the rodeo is, Boucher kept it short and sweet.
"Probably riding," said the young bareback rider.
Not only has Ehmann provided a presence in the rodeo area to his students, but outside of it as well.
"I live with my single mom so it's like he’s kind of a father figure for me honestly," said 16-year-old bull rider Korbin Baldwin.
"He’s a pretty awesome guy. And he's always back there behind the chutes helping me. You know, I never had a dad back there pulling my rope. So, I always had to find someone and he kind of took that spot and really helped me out quite a bit."
It's a role Ehmann doesn't take lightly after the loss of his 11-year-old son Brentley in 2022.
"I have the mindset of every ride is for my son in heaven," said an emotional Ehmann. "And every ride could also be my last ride. And I'm doing this just to have fun and be an inspiration to these kids."