Jason Amon is a young cowboy making his mark in the high school and junior rodeo circuit.
The 16-year-old saddle bronc rider is ranked first in the Arizona Junior Rodeo and third in the Arizona High School Rodeo Association.
Amon, a sophomore at Payson High School, has dreams of competing on the college and professional level some day.
The soft-spoken young man, who addresses adults as "sir" and "ma'am," holds down a full schedule at school, works part-time and practices his bronc riding techniques on a bucking machine at his home in Payson.
Amon recently raised enough money to attend the Shawn Davis Rodeo School along with rodeo teammates and bareback bronc riders Garrett Riggins and Klayton Haught.
The three traveled to Twin Falls, Idaho in March for the three-day school, sponsored and taught by former world champion cowboy, Shawn Davis.
Amon said the instruction was beneficial. He was schooled by roughstock rodeo professionals on everything from the finer points of how to calm a horse in the bucking chute to "marking" a horse on that first crucial jump out of the chute. He also learned different ways to spur the horse to improve the overall score.
"I will use what they taught us," Amon said. "The experience will help me to cover (ride) more horses."
Preparing mentally to think through a ride was another aspect of the instruction, he said.
The mental preparedness may help Amon to "cover" one of the toughest horses in the high school rodeo circuit.
ER, short for emergency room, is a mare from the RC Mercer Rodeo company and, according to Amon, she is respected and feared by saddle bronc riders.
Broncs with a reputation like ER are the reason young and old rodeo contestants wear a protective Kevlar vest similar to that of a police officer.
"She is a huge horse," Amon said.
"When she bucks, she will leave you sitting in mid-air and then move out from under you. She bucked a rider off at the state finals and sent him into a fence."
Amon has seen action on ER four times in Payson and Chino Valley and twice at the State Fair. So far, Amon and ER have split the battle.
"I've ridden her two out of the four times and took third place on her in Payson," Amon said.
Amon, along with several other team members from Payson High, will be traveling to Kingman today, April 5, for a weekend rodeo.