Behind The Scenes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     One of my favorite things to do is participate in high school rodeo. I compete in five of the six girls' events: pole bending, breakaway roping, team roping, barrel racing and cutting. I couldn't name a favorite because I enjoy them all.

Many who do not participate in high school rodeo but know people who do have the idea that a lot of illegal and bad things happen. I am here to give you my eyewitness account of what really happens.

The rodeo starts for me on Friday night with the cutting. This typically starts at 6 p.m. and can go until 11 p.m. or so depending on the number of cutters and the weather. Most participants are so worn out by the end that all we can do is take care of the horses and get to sleep for the next day of competition. Sometimes, however, a few of us play cards or just hang out and talk.

One of the most common card games we play is pitch. This is a game that most participants play very well by the time their four years of high school rodeo are over. Another favorite activity is driving around. Yes, I know you are probably thinking that's lame, but it can be a lot of fun. Many times we find some cool places, like parks and restaurants. No drinking takes place because of all the adult involvement, which is a good thing.

Saturday brings an early awakening. I take care of the horses, and then get myself ready for the day. Usually rodeos start by splitting the arena and doing boys calf roping and steer wrestling on one side, while on the other, the girls participate in goat tying and pole bending. After that they usually do bull riding and then go into alternating sections of barebacks, saddle broncs, team roping and breakaway roping. This usually starts at 11 a.m and finishes at 5 o'clock. The last event in the main arena is girls barrel racing, which takes two hours. Then we go find a restaurant with a few friends and our parents. Since my parents have the luxury of a motor home, my team roping partner and I sometimes buy groceries and cook meals in the good old camper. After that we usually take care of the horses and get them ready for the night.

After that folks get ready for the dance. Yes, we backwards country people have dances almost every Saturday night that last until midnight. After that, if we have the energy, we get together for a game of pitch. As you can see, pitch is popular with the high school rodeo crowd. We usually drag adults who are not sleeping into the game. And more often than not, we beat them, which is very amusing. After we play a quick game, we head to bed, since we do not want wear ourselves out for the last day's rodeo.

Sunday brings another early rising and then we're in the saddle for one more long day. We usually leave the rodeo grounds about 7 p.m., which is late if we have a five-hour drive home, which is not uncommon.

So, as you can see, high school rodeo is not about drinking and doing illegal things. It is too important to do well at your events and to have fun with family and friends than to go out and look for trouble. My experience with high school rodeo has changed my life. Not only have I met new friends, but I also have greater ties with my old ones. It has also given me a greater appreciation for the sport of rodeo and for my family. Without them, I could not participate in high school rodeo, or do as well as I do.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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