Coaching Today

High School Rodeo – A Unique and Fun Sports Opportunity

By Katie Todd

Many high school teens participate in sports; I participate in rodeo and swimming. They have some similar features and in other ways are totally different. However, the same attributes are needed in both sports. You must be determined, aggressive and focused.

High school rodeo is a fun sport. Events for girls are Goat Tying, Breakaway, Barrel Racing, Poles, and Team Roping. Boys events include Bareback Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Calf Roping, Bull Riding, Team Roping and Steer Wrestling. My events are Goat Tying, Barrels and Poles.

Goat Tying is probably one of the harder events in rodeo. In Goat Tying, you race down on your horse to a stake that has a goat on a 10-foot rope. When you get to the stake; you get off your horse at a run and run to the goat. You flip the goat over and tie three of its legs together. The goat must stay tied for six seconds. This event is timed and the fastest time wins.

In Poles, there are six poles you and your horse have to run. This event begins by racing to the last pole on the far end. You then weave through them and turn around and go back through. Finally, you race home. This is a timed event with the fastest time winning. If you knock down a pole, it’s a five- second penalty that is added on to your finish time.

In Barrels, it’s a clover leaf pattern that you can start on the right or left side and run around each barrel and run home. Just like Poles, the fastest time wins. A five-second penalty is added on for knocking a barrel.

My love for horses started at a very young age. I was on my first horse about the age of 5 months.  When I was old enough, I started 4-H and gravitated toward the Barrels and Poles. At the age of 13, family friends told us about high school rodeo and said that we should try it. Never did I think this would be my high school sport. I thought it could never be more than just a county fair. After my very first rodeo, I fell in love with the sport, the people, the atmosphere and the competition. It was just so fun.

Training horses and training the rider is pretty much like any other sport; you and your horse need to be in shape. Once in a while we run the pattern; horses don’t need to be run through (practice) all the time. Otherwise, horses start to get sick of the pattern and don’t ever want to do it – just like I get annoyed at practice when the coach keeps making me do the same thing over and over. It just isn’t fun anymore!

High school rodeo events have a dress code, which includes hat, boots, belt, jeans, western shirt and your back number. Your back number never comes off during the whole weekend, even when the events are not going on.

Iowa has 21 different rodeo competitions. The competition starts on Saturday and you complete all your entered events. On Sunday you stay in the same place and compete in your events again. The last rodeo, State Finals, awards buckles for the people who are in the top six of all the rodeos. The top four move on to the National High School Rodeo and compete against people from all over the nation. Obviously, making the Nationals is a very big deal. The best four from Iowa are pretty good on the National level.

Rodeo is not an inexpensive sport; it costs $100 to be an Iowa member. Each rodeo event costs $50 for the weekend competition. Participants also pay for stalls to keep their horses in and, of course, there is the cost of gas for all the traveling and pulling the horse trailer.

Coaches come from all the state. Usually, you have to have a parent who knows what to do or knows someone to help you get started. This is not an easy sport, but after you put in the work, it can be one of the best experiences in your life.

The best things about high school rodeo are the people and the fun in competition. Another great thing is meeting all my good rodeo friends and nice people who sponsor and participate in the events. Like other sports, the most difficult thing is not doing as well as you had hoped.

Something unique about rodeo is sportsmanship. People in rodeo are such good sports toward other competitors. Everyone knows once you get in that pen, it’s all out and as best you can. During your race, all the people cheer you on. Even though you are in competition against each other, they still want you to do well. That’s why high school rodeo is such a fun sport.

About the Author: Katie Todd is a junior at Ponca (Nebraska) High School. In addition to participating in rodeo, she swims in a cooperative program between Ponca and South Sioux City (Nebraska) High School and was the team’s best swimmer this past season.



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