I love rodeo. I’m so glad it’s the life that chose me.
by Rylee George
I was really hoping to win Reserve All-Around Cowgirl at the California High School Rodeo Association State Finals in Bishop in June. I was finishing up my junior year and had qualified in four events: breakaway roping, team roping with my partner Karson Mebane, barrels and goat tying.
The announcer started reading results. I held my breath and waited.
“The Reserve All-Around Cowgirl is…”
I listened, hoping to hear my name ring out over the loudspeaker, trying to calm my anxiety.
Throughout the Finals, I tried not to let the nerves mess with my head. I had performed as well as I could, and I knew my family was proud of me no matter what.
My family has always supported me. I got my first pony when I was eighteen-months old. Dad started teaching me to rope when I was five. He’s a team roper, though not as competitive as he once was. Apparently I picked it up pretty quickly.
As soon as I started competing, Dad hauled me to every rodeo, jackpot, roping school or event I wanted to go to. We joke that he was more excited about my participation in rodeo than his own. My mom came with us and videotaped every run. I competed in everything I could – breakaway roping, barrels, goat tying, pole bending and team roping.
When I was in eighth grade I won the breakaway roping at the California Junior High Rodeo State Finals. I won it on a horse named Luke. My prize was a saddle. I figured that wasn’t too bad for an eighth-grader. I can’t remember if I made As or Bs or Cs that year, but I’ll always remember winning that saddle.
Since then, I’ve improved a lot. I headed to the State Finals in June feeling confident in my abilities and my equine partners. My best two horses are my breakaway horse and my team-roping horse. My team-roping horse is Nick. He’s a twelve-year-old palomino gelding. He scores and faces really well, and I always feel confident on him. He’s seasoned enough to know his job but not so old that he’s slowing down or requires a lot of upkeep. Dakota, my breakaway horse, is really turning into something special. She was three when I got her. My mom’s cousin gave her to me for free. She’s only seven and is already working really well for me. I can’t wait to see how we progress together.
At the Finals, my average in the breakaway was 16.5 seconds on four head. I finished fourth in the State. And in the team roping, Karson and I won first! I’d never won the State Finals in team roping. Doing well in both events is what made me think I had a good shot at Reserve All-Around Cowgirl.
When I didn’t hear my name over the loudspeaker, I was confused and pensive trying to figure out what was happening. The announcer continued.
“And the Champion All-Around Cowgirl is…Rylee George!”
I was so happy! We all hugged each other. Winning as a junior felt especially good. I immediately started thinking about what my senior year would hold!
I’m a senior now. I turn eighteen in November. By now, I’ve won twenty-one saddles! I’m not trying to brag, but each win makes me feel like I can do this, like I’m getting better. I hope one day to make the National Finals Rodeo. For now, I have my sights set on the High School State Finals and Nationals next year!
My future feels like endless opportunities. I love rodeo, and I’m so glad that it’s the life that chose me.