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Take a Chance

By , Appleton, WI
I could feel the adrenaline running through me. This happens every time before I go out into the arena in front of all those people. They just sit there and watch. For most people the pressure is unbearable. For me, it’s just an adrenaline rush. We enter the arena and you could see the crowd cheering. The gun shoots off in a split second, signaling me to start. Right away my horse knows it’s go time, and she takes off, coming up on the inside of the barrel, about to quickly take a left turn and circle around the first barrel, and right away coming to the inside of the second barrel. Taking a left turn, moving swiftly around the second barrel, and running up to the final barrel, coming along the inside and going into the final turn in the left and racing out between the two first barrels. That’s when the timer stops. My time came in as 18.03 seconds, which isn’t even that good. I had been doing this since I was 9 years old and I’m very slowly improving.
“And that was Aubrey who is 17 years old and with a time of 18.03,” the man shouted over the loud speaker. My mom came out to say congrats and better luck next time to me and my horse, whose name was Thunder.
Stamina and concentration are two key words in my vocabulary. It takes both stamina and concentration between me and my partner to be able to do what I do. My mom is the one who taught me this and someday I plan on passing it on to my baby girl. The basics to it is there are 3 barrels, and the goal is to get the fastest time, but it’s not just about your speed, it also has to deal with how well you and your companion work together and how well your turns are around the barrels.
First of all, summer is coming up which means more practicing. I’m excited and I just really want to get a good time. I drew plenty of diagrams and figured out how long I need to take to go around each barrel in order to reach my goal of 15 seconds. Just one more year of high school after this and I’ll be in some more shows and I will start to get noticed more and more. I plan on winning plenty of shows which should help to pay for some schooling because some of those winnings mean big bucks. Since last year I have been giving kids horse back riding lessons and my parent’s ranch that we live on has many sponsors because we have our own program at my house for kids with and without disabilities to be able to ride horses.
I have had Thunder since I started barrel racing which was at the age of 9 and I got her when she was about 2 years old. I pretty much grew up around her and she was getting old she is now about 10 years old and I don’t think I could allow her to barrel race anymore. She has held up so long and she is a very beautiful paint.
I was talking to my mom one day about how I thought she was getting too old to be barrel racing and I walked into the kitchen by my mom and said, “Do you think that Thunder is getting too old for this stuff?”
Then she questioned, “Too old for what? Barrel racing?”
“Yeah, I mean she is a really good horse and I really don’t want to get rid of her but she is just getting too old for barrel racing and I think that she just needs a break,” I explained to her.
“Well you can use Sassy,” she told me.
Then I answered, “Well I don’t know yet.”
I walked outside and went into the stable by Thunder. I decided I wanted to go for a ride so I saddled her up and got on. We went down the trails at my house and I just kept going and I didn’t want to stop. Next when we got back from our trail ride I took her saddle off and just sat there and pet her for a while. I didn’t want to get rid of Thunder because she is my first and only horse I have had. I came back into the house and took shower while Ma was cooking up supper. I walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table.
My mom started to say, “I have been thinking about what you said…”
“Well I just think that I will use her for one more competition Ma!” I interrupted.
“Well I was kind of thinking that maybe if you don’t want to get rid of Thunder then we will keep her she can just be used as a trail horse so you can have her here for you to just ride around and then you can use Sassy because she is all set to barrel race,” she explained. Then my dad walked into the kitchen.
“Hey dad,” I said.
“Hey Aubrey, what’s going on?” he replied.
“We were just talking and me and ma decided that I was gonna use Thunder for one more competition then I will start using Sassy and we will just keep Thunder for trail riding,” I suggested.
“Well that’s fine with me but just make sure you keep giving Thunder attention,” He said.
“Well of course I will dad and I was going to ask Henry if he wanted to come for a trail ride with me but I haven’t seen him all day,” I told him.
“That’s because he was with me all day at work. We had to go build a lean to for a friend,” He explained.
Henry was my brother; he is 1 year older than me. The funny thing is that I look just like Ma and he looks just like dad, so I guess you could say like father like son, like mother like daughter. I wasn’t really short and I wasn’t really tall. I had long curly brown hair and sky blue eyes. Unlike me Henry had blonde hair and he was taller than I was but he also had blue eyes. I was just happy though that I get to keep Thunder but I figured I better start working with Sassy soon after my next competition. The next competition was the last one for Thunder and I wasn’t really expecting much to happen. This rodeo competition is one of the most important ones around. If you want to become known for whatever event in the rodeo that you do this is the place to come. This year was supposed to be big for me but after not doing so great in my last competition I didn’t really think I was going to do that good this time.
As I was walking Thunder around, preparing her for the competition I saw her. She is one of the best barrel racers known. She was my inspiration. Her name was Tana Poppino. In 2007 she made the top 15 in the world of barrel racers.
She walked over by me and said, “Hey what’s your name?”
Then I replied, “Aubrey.” I couldn’t believe she was talking to me. “And this is my horse Thunder.”
“Aubrey. That’s a pretty name and you have a beautiful horse here,” She said.
“Thanks,” I answered.
“Well good luck,” she said as she started walking away.
“Thanks,” I said again.
“And here is Aubrey who is 17 years old with her companion Thunder who is 10 years old,” The man shouted over the loud speaker.
For some reason I wasn’t as nervous as I normally am but I couldn’t tell if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I came in confident and ended out strong.
“And there was Aubrey with a time of 16.02 seconds and her horse Thunder! Wow! What an awesome time there. So put your hands together for these two!” The man shouted again into the loud speaker.
“I did it I finally did it! I’m so happy I didn’t give up on you Thunder,” I shouted as a big smile spread across my face.
Maybe I did have a chance at becoming one of the best barrel racers out there. Maybe I have a chance. A big rush of joy ran through me and it was one of the happiest moments of my life. Ma, dad and Henry all came rushing down from the stands to give me a big hug. They all had the biggest smiles on their faces I have ever seen.
“Congratulations!” they shouted, “We knew you could do it!”
I was just completely speechless. I had no idea what to say. All I could think was that I was so proud of myself. I can’t believe I thought before that this day would never come and it did, it finally did.





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