By Grace Abate
Rodeo season has started and everybody is getting ready. For the participants, it’s time to saddle up and practice.
Gracely Speth and Kelsey Thiem have been rodeoing for years; they both participate in team roping and breakaway. Speth also does cutter. Team roping is one of the only team events in the rodeo. It has two members on every team, one header and one heeler. The header ropes the horns of the cow, then wraps their rope around their saddle horn. The heeler then ropes the heels of the cow. The breakaway event consists of one rider and one calf. The calf and rider are let out of corrals at the same time, where the rider ropes the calf quickly, but does not take them down. Cutter is an event that showcases a rider’s horse. The rider and horse will separate a cow from a small herd, when the cow tries to return to it’s crowd it’s up to the horse to keep them away.
Speth has been rodeoing for as long as she can remember, but started competing in eighth grade. Speth’s dad “grew up on a ranch and rodeoed his whole life,” so she says it was inevitable that she would join the sport as well.
Speth says that rodeo is “not like any other sport because it’s not really a sport. It’s a way of life, or lifestyle due to the amount of time, resources, and sacrifice one must put in to be successful”.
She puts in that time too, when the weather is nice enough Speth practices her events 20 hours a week. Her favorite part is the adrenaline rush it gives, and all the life lessons she has learned from it, such as, responsibility, humility, social skills, how to be a part of a team, independance and even financial management.
Kelsey Thiem has been participating in rodeo for 10 years.Thiem practices about two hours a week on her horses Salty and Ranger.
“My dad always did rodeo so it’s kind of in the family I guess,” she says.
Thiem’s favorite part of rodeoing is being able to travel all around Montana with friends, although her least favorite part is the long car trips she must endure.
Whether you’re new to the sport or seasoned pros like Thiem and Speth it’s never too late to fall in love with rodeo. For information about upcoming high school rodeo events, go to http://www.mhsra.com.
Rodeo Season is Here!
By Grace Abate