High School Rodeo With Loralee Ward


Sierra Sisneros, Staff Writer

Let’s start off with some general information about what high school rodeo is. The National High School Rodeo Association was created to give high school students the opportunity to participate and compete in such a unique sport that is much different than normal high school sports. The athletes compete on a scale comparable to professional rodeo competitors. At the national level, contestants can receive scholarships up to $200,000. NHSRA is independent from all other high school sports.

Reined Cow Horse

Loralee Ward is a sixteen year old sophomore. She does not really do any extracurriculars besides high school rodeo. In the “off seasons,” she goes to jackpots and futurities. Loralee partakes in the events of reined cow horse, cutting, barrel racing, pole bending, and light rifle shooting.


Reined cow horse is when the contestant completes a reining pattern then call for a cow. They box this cow, and then take it down the fence. They must successfully get both a left and right turn. Then, they drive the cow to the middle of the arena (ideally) to complete at least one full circle each direction.


Cutting is when, during the allotted time, the horse and rider must cut at least two cows from the herd, and one must be a ‘deep’ cut, or when the cow is cut from deep inside the herd, not just a cow standing on the outer edge. Each rider selects four helper riders to assist them in the competition. Two of the helpers are the “herd holders” who keep the herd from wandering into the competition area, while the other two helpers are “turn back riders” who keep the cow from escaping to the far end of the arena.

Barrel Racing

Barrel racing is when three barrels are set up in a triangular shape from the entrance, known as the alleyway of the arena. The goal of the event is to make a tight circle around all three barrels, leaving little room for the horse to conform to the shape of the barrel. The fastest time wins in this event. One little mistake and the barrel can fall down, which creates a time penalty for the rider. The riders all ride in a cloverleaf pattern.

Pole Bending is where horse and rider run weave through six poles.

Light rifle shooting is an event where on shoots from 3 different positions (prone, kneel, stand) 50 yards away from a stationary target with four bullseyes. The shooter puts three rounds in each bullseye, totaling to 12 rounds for score in each position.

Light Rifle Shooting

The goal of high school rodeo is to qualify for Nationals in the summer. Each state takes four qualifiers per event to represent their state against all the other states. It is the largest rodeo in the world, and highly prestigious. High school rodeo also has great scholarship opportunities, and stands as a stepping stone to college rodeo and eventually PRCA. Plus, no one can beat the quality of people who rodeo!