I could go on for hours on this topic! Rodeo, trail riding and anything else horse related is an awesome experience for families on so many levels.
To keep myself under control, I reached out to my Facebook friends for their input on this lifestyle we love so much. Words like family, support, fun, confidence and hard work are just a few that surfaced.
No matter what level you compete at, rodeo is quite possibly the most family-oriented sport on earth. When you hear people within the sport talk about their “other” family, they’re most likely referring to their rodeo family. A rodeo family consists of people you see at rodeos and similar events that become lifelong friends. Regardless of how long you’ve known these people, they cheer for you and your kids, help each other in and out of the arena with horses, tips and tricks, they’re willing to give you their shirt off their back and THEY’LL FEED YOU!! They are the people who are a phone call away when you blow a tire or have truck or trailer problems. These people laugh with you, cry with you and raise your kids with you.
When I started high school rodeo, my family knew a handful of people, as we’d always been involved in rodeo. When I finished high school rodeo, we knew everyone involved and still stay in contact with many of them. I’m 28 years old and my best friends all stemmed from being involved in rodeo. High school rodeo led me to college rodeo, then professional rodeo. Now I have friends from all over the place, Iowa, Alabama, Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado and many other states in the country!
“I love the fact that it is family-friendly and most everyone is a good sport. The kids all cheer for each other, regardless of the fact that they are competing against each other. Everyone pitches in and helps, even if it means teaching a kid that wasn’t raised in rodeo about our beloved sport. I have never seen another sport love God, our country and its contestants like rodeo. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind sport,” said Amanda Morris from Tennessee.
Rodeo teaches kids essential life lessons:
? Thankfulness. Without parents [or amazing relatives or friends] helping and supporting them, a child cannot even begin to enjoy the sport of rodeo. The rodeo family stresses that children need to be thankful for all the people who make it possible for them to learn and compete, and for the many, many people who create events for them to attend. And for the most part, children involved are respectful and thankful or learn to be.
- Responsibility: Horses and ponies are living, breathing, eating animals that must be taken care of daily to survive. Kids learn to be responsible for feeding, watering, grooming, exercising, training, cleaning stalls and trailers, maintaining their bodies physically and mentally and much more. And most parents expect their children to do these things themselves in exchange for the opportunity to learn and compete.
- Preparation: When your kids start traveling with horses, they learn to prepare the trailer with feed, hay, bedding, supplements, tack, bits, ropes and any other supplies they might need to take care of their animals and compete. With a soccer bag, kids only have to worry about food and a few supplies for themselves. Horses can’t pack for themselves. (Nothing against soccer or any other sport, just a simple point).
- Hard Work: Taking care of animals and learning rodeo skills is hard work. It takes long nights in the barn cleaning stalls, putting up hay, working the arena, taking care of calves, goats, steers, even when it’s cold, rainy or windy. There must be consistent, individual practice, Practice, PRACTICE. Their team is their parents, and no one else can be blamed when things don’t go right. It’s not always easy to practice and like any other kid, they’d often rather do something else. But just like in life, kids must take care of their responsibilities and work to make themselves better regardless of the weather or how they feel. If kids don’t put in the hard work in the practice pen, they won’t be successful. If they do, they will improve more and more and be able to take ownership of that improvement.
- Communication: Riding a large animal that can’t talk takes a lot of teamwork and non-verbal communication. More experienced riders are key to learning how to do this. Kids learn to think through the message they want to send to their horse and how to send it. Just like people, they learn to communicate differently with each horse they encounter to reach a common goal. Communication, verbal and non-verbal takes thought and time to develop. Horses teach kids this from the very beginning.
- Confidence: When a kid is responsible for preparing, working hard in the practice pen and learning to communicate to get results with their horse, things start to come together. After they’ve put in the hours and the work themselves, kids glow with confidence when they accomplish their goals. It’s not easy riding horses, but the work that goes into it and the results they achieve gives kids the confidence they need to take on life.
- Embracing the journey: Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn. Rodeo and related events teach kids to roll with the punches. Only the top few win and getting there is a very fulfilling struggle. Kids learn to smile even when (things don’t) work out and rodeo family members are quick to remind kids that there is always another day. Go back to the practice pen, keep working hard and you will improve. Kids learn to embrace the journey, keep smiling and have fun along the way!
Rodeo is truly a one-of-a-kind sport where strangers become family, everyone cheers for each other and children learn life lessons. Celina Dugas says, “We wouldn’t trade this for the world.”
If you are considering anything horse related for your family in any way, please reach out to us by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, sending us a message on Facebook or Instagram or calling or texting us at (641) 799-5042. We will find someone in your area to answer your questions, show you the ropes and get your family started on the right track!