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Charging down the field at 30 mph, wind tearing at my eyes and causing tears to form, I slow down and brace myself for the tight turn. Leaning into the turn, I go around the barrel and feel power beneath me as I accelerate (out of the turn). The only thing is, I’m not riding a dirt bike or an ATV with a huge engine in it. Underneath me is a one horsepower engine named Stormy. I’m riding my horse as I practice for competition.

Last year, I competed in the Will Lantis Memorial Championship of Cowboy Mounted Shooting in South Dakota. It is a fast-paced competition of riding horses while shooting at targets with a pistol. My horse runs at a full-out gallop and can hit speeds over 30 mph with nothing holding me in the saddle other than my balance. The adrenaline rush that follows is only matched by roller coasters.
I spend six weeks of riding my horse for two to four hours a day, four to six days a week, all for one event. I will attend multiple competitions this year, but they won’t mean half as much as this one. I train for this one three times longer than the others.
When I get home from school I ride in the arena trotting and turning while doing small exercises to get my horse to listen to me. I gallop in the field to build up not only his stamina and strength, but mine too.
There will be over one hundred riders there and many have world and national titles…We both need all the practice we can get.

The weekend consisted of one smaller event and a larger one following it. I hoped to place first in my division. And not only did I place first in my division, but I placed fourth overall out of ninety riders. I beat world and national champions who ride and train horses for a living. I was happier than I had been in a long time that day and my cheeks started to hurt from smiling so much.
In the larger event, I had once again hoped to place first in my division. I placed first in my class and fourth overall again, but this time it was different. I’ll admit it. I was beat by not one, but two girls and since only one man beat me, I was the men’s reserve overall champion. When they posted the results, I looked at who had beat me and thought Wow I did great again without realizing what had happened. Then my dad mentioned that I had placed second in the men’s division. I didn’t truly understand how well I had done until the announcer said, “It is my pleasure to give this award to Brennen Hogen” and I walked up in front of everyone and stood there while they clapped for me.
It was the best competition of my life and I can account it to one thing: riding constantly in the weeks beforehand, even when I was tired and didn’t want to. I wanted to win and by working hard and being persistent, I did better than I have ever done.
My favorite quote is one I made up myself. “Don’t set goals in life, surpass them.” This is how I try to live my life. I know good results come from trying your best and I’m not afraid to work hard to accomplish my goals.





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