The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Boswell: Exploring the thing called rodeo


September 17, 2016

Alisa Boswell

Love and support for your high school and college sports are always a big part of small town life.

But unless you are involved in the lifestyle, rodeo probably doesn’t get the same level of attention as other sports do, such as football and baseball.

Getting about three phone calls last week made me realize there are definitely locals who care about the rodeo life. A few people called me with concerns over whether we were covering the Eastern New Mexico University College Daze Rodeo this weekend or not.

Of course, I responded. We did last year.

But the phone calls got me thinking that maybe I need to make the effort to attend the rodeo one night to show support, just as I did for the first ENMU football game of the season. So on Friday night, I did.

There is definitely no denying the distinct culture of rodeo life. Spending time in the bleachers with my very prissy girlfriend — who insisted rodeo could not be the life for her — got me thinking about the rodeo lifestyle and what drives those involved in it.

So Saturday morning, I trekked back over to the arena and wandered into the participant side filled with trailers and horses eyeballing me suspiciously every time I rounded a corner. Everyone was on or with a horse, and I drew curious looks from several people, because I had a camera and car keys but no horse.

I talked to rodeo participants about what makes them so passionate for their trade.

Bree Von Hellborn, 18, of North Central Texas College in Gainsville, Texas, is a bit of a rodeo enigma, because she is a first generation rodeo participant (many grow up in the trade).

“I’ve always wanted to do it ever since I was a little girl,” Bree said. “I always had a passion for horses, and I got this barrel racing magazine. I looked in there ... and thought, dang, I wanna do that.”

Bree said although she was not in rodeo, her mom grew up around horses.

“My mom gave me horse books when I was a little girl, and I was like, OK, I really like these animals,” Bree said. “Everybody was like, ‘She’ll grow out of it; she’ll grow out of it.’ I never did.”

She laughed.

Ariana Sanchez, 20, a junior at ENMU, who is originally from Lubbock, said she has been doing rodeo since she was in the seventh grade.

“It’s an adrenaline rush, and it’s the challenge,” Ariana said of why she loves rodeo. “It’s just a passion. People have their niche. Some people have basketball, some have football, and this is what we like to do.”

“Everybody that rodeos, they’re adrenaline junkies,” she added. “That’s what it is. You get out there, and the horse is moving 30 to 35 miles per hour, and you sit up there — it’s the adrenaline; it’s the bond you have with your animal.”

And that relationship with your horse is the most important part of rodeo, according to Ariana.

“It means the world to me,” Ariana said of her bond with her horse, Diva, who she has had for several years.

“It’s (your horse) your partner. You work together. You form a bond, and you learn their quirks, and they learn you,” she said. “You can’t go out there with no trust. You have to go out there knowing that your horse is on the same page as you and that they’re going to go out there and do what they know how to do.”

Due to deadlines, look for sports coverage of the rodeo in the Tuesday newspaper.

Alisa Boswell is managing editor for the Portales News-Tribune. Contact her at [email protected]


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