When Laurie O’Bryan took her daughter Hannah to a rodeo to see if she would be interested in participating, she had no way of knowing she would be making her 6th appearance at nationals one day. The Kentucky High School Rodeo Association held state finals at the Murray Expo Center this month and Hannah, who will be going into her senior year at Calloway County High School, qualified for nationals in the four events she competed in: barrel racing, goat tying, pole bending and breakaway roping. Nationals will be held in Wyoming in July.
“You compete throughout the year at all the rodeos and the top four competitors in each category qualify,” Hannah said. “All the events I compete in are timed and the best time wins. First place gets 10 points and the scale goes all the way down to one point.”
Hannah, who has been competing since fourth grade, said she has been blessed with the horses she has handled and wouldn’t be successful without God or her support system.
In the future, she hopes to be a veterinarian and is preparing for her future. “Rodeos happen away from home and the vet isn’t there,” Hannah said. “If I have a horse get sick I need to know how to handle that.”
Laurie O’Bryan believes there are benefits to competing in a rodeo. “The competitor has to learn to have patience, how to win and lose and to accept the outcome,” Laurie said. “You learn to respect the animal and to get your frustrations out in practice when things aren’t going your way.”
As a year-round event, Laurie emphasized the need for horse and rider to stay in shape and keep safety in mind. “Any parent worries, especially with the speed involved in timed events,” Laurie said. “Riders dismount running horses to tie goats in one event, and worrying is just part of it. But you have to love what you do. If you don’t, you won’t be successful.”
The trip to nationals will be about a 24-hour trip for the O’Bryans, who will travel with friends and stop to give the horses a break from time to time. Nationals prizes include buckles to the top 10 contenders in each event, scholarships and sponsorships.