Success for Maryland Rodeo Kids
(first appeared in the November 2014 issue of The Equiery)
By Katherine O. Rizzo with photos by Lisa Cavin
When the Maryland High School Rodeo Association (MDHSRA) got started a year ago, the organizing committee had no idea how popular it would become. What started out as a few high school kids competing in rodeos outside of Maryland has grown to nearly 50 students from Elementary through High School competing both here in Maryland and elsewhere as part of the National High School Rodeo Association circuit.
“It has really been a grass roots effort to get the word out about the club but it has worked!” said current MDHSRA president Katie Nechamkin. “We’ve even had several kids from Maryland who were competing on teams for other states come back to Maryland and join us.”
Members compete in several events, with some choosing to specialize in one event, such as barrel racing. Most have caught the rodeo bug and have branched out to compete in more than one of the 12 events offered. Events vary based on age and gender but typically follow what you would expect at rodeos including barrels, poles, and rough stock events.
The events and points are divided between Junior High and High School and new this year is the addition of the Mustangs for Elementary School members. These kids only compete in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, goat tying, mutton busting and calf riding.
One of the goals of MDHSRA from the beginning was to be able to host rodeos right here within the state and they accomplished this in 2014. “Several were held at the Howard County Fair Grounds and one was at the Howard County Farm Museum as well as another one at the Charles County Fair,” Nechamkin said. She added that the club is looking into adding locations for the coming season on the Eastern Shore and in Garrett County. “Our goal is to have 14 pointed events across the state leading up to the state finals in May,” she said.
They are also holding several clinics during the winter months including a few for Reined Cow Horse, which is a combination of reining and cutting. “They have to ride a basic reining pattern, then move a cow to a pen and finally move the cow in a figure-eight pattern,” Nechamkin explained.
What was probably the most exciting part about this past season was having members qualify for the national finals. The High School finals were held in Wyoming this past July with the Junior High finals being held in Ohio in June.
Ten members qualified at the High School level with a few qualifying in more than one event. For the Junior High members, there were four who qualified from the free state. All qualified members represented Maryland at the national finals. In addition, Miranda Iager represented the Free State as MDHSRA’s first Rodeo Queen.
For more background on MDHSRA, please visit the Archives and Sporting Blog on equiery.com.