By Alexandria Davis
The end pole was coming up. She had made it this far, but wasn’t ready for the last pole. Her horse, Trigger, curved around the poles easily beneath her, but, in the last moment, slung her onto the ground.
Picking herself up off her stomach, she hit the ground in anger with her fist, but was soon up with the crowd roaring in laughter as she chased the horse down to get him out of the ring. Moments like this are the ones that recent NHS graduate Rachel Bradshaw finds as some of the funniest times she’s had participating in rodeo events.
Five years ago, as a young girl, Bradshaw set out on a mission to start up her career in the rodeo with the inspiration of her grandmother, who participated when she was younger. Now, Bradshaw participates in barrel racing and pole bending competitions across south-central Arkansas.
For Bradshaw, the rodeo kept her out of trouble throughout high school. It taught her to use her patience and to work hard for what she wanted in life and in the rodeo. At a young age, her parents encouraged her to ride horses.
“The first time I rode my first horse, my family set me on it and the horse took off into the field. It scared me, so when the horse stopped, I kind of fell off because my legs were like jelly from the ride,” Bradshaw said.
During the time that she has spent enhancing her skills, she has made countless memories that she will be able to carry on to college. Bradshaw plans to attend Southern Arkansas University to major in animal science with a focus on large animals, then to Oklahoma State University to receive a veterinarian degree, but while she works hard in the classroom, she also looks forward to trying to make her own mark on college rodeo.
“It’s something I want to carry on with in college, but apparently it’s hard to do that and keep up your grades, but I want to try and see how it goes in the beginning and how I do,” Bradshaw said.
Currently, Bradshaw is participating in competitions hosted by the South Central Arkansas Horse Show Association. She has won ribbons for barrel racing and pole bending and is running in the top 5 in barrel racing and pole bending.
Bradshaw also is normally top 15 in high school rodeo and is top 15 in Southwest Arkansas Rodeo Association pole bending with a buckle that she received from placing in those competitions. She will only win ribbons until the end of the year when all the points she has maintained will be added up for overall awards with this association.
“Some advice for younger participants and people wanting to start riding would be to pray about it. When you put God first, everything is possible. If I hadn’t done this the other day when my horse fell on me, then I might have gotten hurt pretty bad,” Bradshaw said.
The Southwest Arkansas Rodeo Association holds competitions every other week for participants of all ages. The association will conduct finals Memorial Day weekend, where Bradshaw will be competing in the pole bending competition.