Rodeo: a unique sport in which your teammate is a loyal, four-legged friend
By ADRIEN VAN STEENLANDT
Boyle County High School
When thinking of sports, rodeo is not the first activity that comes to mind. However, here at Boyle County High School several students compete in rodeo and are quite successful in the sporting event. Senior Sarah Duffy and sophomore Taylor Sharp are two young ladies who pursue their dreams on horseback.
From an early age, the girls were surrounded by and passionate about their equestrian companions. Years later, they were introduced to the concept of competitive horse disciplines by various people. Duffy reflected on her interest for rodeo in which “my neighbor let me ride her barrel horse, and I began to ride barrels from then on.” This moment served as a catalyst in which Duffy became intrigued and involved in rodeo.
Sharp saw her rodeo dream come to fruition in a different manner. “Caitlin’s dad had always tried to get me into it, and after I stopped cheering in middle school, I fell in love with it.”
Unfortunately, the Kentucky High School Athletics Association does not sanction rodeo as a high school sport, so Sharp and Duffy must turn to the Kentucky High School Rodeo Association (KHSRA) for opportunities to compete in events such as barrel racing, pole bending, and goat tying. The KHRSA also allows students unfamiliar with rodeo to get the knowledge they need to begin their journey.
As rodeo is not a common pastime in today’s generation, the young ladies elaborated on what drives them in rodeo in which they simultaneously replied, “My horse.” However, Sharp elaborated, “Everyone is so friendly and the competition is great, making it fun to be around everyone.”
Realizing that competitive rodeo requires a lot of maintenance, the girls must balance their time between horses, academics, and their social lives. Duffy states, “It does conflict with my life a little, working out in the barn and riding, because I compete almost every weekend.” Sharp adds, “You get used to the work, it becomes an everyday part of your life. It’s truly a get away.”
The ladies share a special relationship with their horses. Rodeo is a sport between horse and rider and according to Sharp she shares a special bond with her horse because “you spend so much time with them.” Duffy adds that her horse “always comes to me at first sight”, showing that she and her horse are loyal companions.
The two were quick to elaborate on how these special bonds were made. Duffy and Sharp state that they spend at least two hours every day with their horses mucking stalls, watering, feeding, riding and grooming their horses.
Sharp appreciates her family support and they take pride in her “doing something different.” In addition, she has also developed an extended family. “We have a rodeo family that supports us.”
Duffy shared how rodeo has taken her to many states throughout the country. “We’ve visited Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming, and Nebraska to name a few. Without my family, I could never have been able to do this.” Sharp views rodeo as “a vacation that I really enjoy.”
The competitors explained that in rodeo, success is hinged upon timing. You win if you have the fastest time while competing in various circuits such as barrel racing, pole bending, and goat tying. Duffy says, “ I got to attend nationals in pole bending and goat tying. At nationals I was ranked 88th in goat tying and 46th in pole bending.” Nationals includes all states as well as Australia and Canada, quite the achievement.
Because of her achievements at home and on the national stage, Duffy plans to continue her journey beyond high school as she aspires to “attend the University of Tennessee at Martin on a partial or full rodeo scholarship.”
Sharp and Duffy continue to chase their dream of rodeo through steadfast commitment and unrivaled determination alongside their beloved companions.