The speed, the atmosphere and the family feel.
There’s nothing like a rodeo weekend for Gracie Finley, who now is No. 2 in the state for breakaway roping.
“Everybody’s always positive. Everybody stands up for the national anthem. Everybody says a prayer before the rodeo. It’s like a family,” she said.
Finley, a Lakeview Academy student, will soon saddle up to Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, where she received a rodeo scholarship and a spot on the school’s team.
“I wouldn’t touch a horse until I was 5 years old. Then (my dad) put me on the back of a horse and I loved it,” she said.
Breakaway roping is a rodeo event where a rider tries to lasso a loose horse. Finley is also No. 5 in the state for barrel racing, a speed event around a pattern of barrels.
Sometimes getting up to 20 miles per hour, the speed of barrel racing makes it Finley’s favorite event of the two.
Finley was named the “best all-around cowgirl” at the Wayne Dutton Livestock Junior Rodeo four years in a row.
The wide open spaces in Cleveland allow Finley to keep two horses, Annie and Hammerhead. Annie is the barrel racing horse and Hammerhead is for breakaway roping.
“Hammerhead is very calm, except when the music starts playing. Then he gets hyped up. Annie, she’s always hyper,” she said.
Gracie starts every morning at 6 a.m. feeding the horses, then there’s four hours of riding in the afternoon.
“I don’t think they know how much work it takes to do it,” Finley said of misconceptions her classmates may have of the sport.