Then the adrenaline takes over, said Courtney Myers, 17, of Refugio.
Myers, along with four other finalists from Refugio County, left for Texas High School Rodeo Association state finals in Abilene on Saturday.
“When you nod your head, everything slows down,” she said. “Your breathing slows down when your roping. And when you’re done, everything goes back to normal.”
That’s the main reason Myers loves to rodeo: the adrenaline rush.
But more reasons to love rodeo are intrinsic to Myers. The sport has been part of the Myers family for some time.
The daughter of Mike and Kelley Myers, she said her dad participated in rodeo.
“I’ve been rodeoing since I was 4 or 5 years old,” she said.
She said making lifelong friends is another benefit of the sport.
“Those friends. They’re friends for life. It’s a family deal,” she said.
Myers said her dad still has friends from when he was in rodeo.
Myers qualified in Region 8 competition for state in breakaway roping and team roping.
Also traveling to Abilene was Robert Arriaga, 18, of Woodsboro.
Arriaga qualified for state competition in Region 8 in bullriding.
The son of Cindy and Porfirio, Arriaga said he was influenced by his grandfather, who was an all around rancher and all around cowboy, those qualities that the THSRA promote.
“And my cousin John was a bullrider,” he said.
THSRA’s vision: enriching the lives of our student athletes by preserving our Western heritage through the sport of rodeo, promoting family values and providing them with future opportunities through college scholarships.
THSRA began in Hallettsville in 1946. The idea behind the first High School Rodeo was to encourage rural-oriented youth to stay in school and complete their studies.
Students must maintain certain academic standards throughout the school year to be eligible to compete.
Arriaga won his chance at state in Sinton. The Region competitions run from August through February, and afterward, riders like Myers and Arriaga practice for the state competition, going on this week.
Myers works with her horse, Mr. Jones, who was given to her by her sponsor: the Weeks family of Premont and Uvalde.
That family gave her Mr. Jones a couple of years ago.
“We practice anywhere available,” she said.
“I like to practice a little bit slower – work (Mr. Jones) a lot and get in the right mind set,” she said.
Myers team ropes with Cameron Loveday, who also will be traveling to Abilene to compete.
Also, Daniel Braman and Colton Arredondo qualified to go to state competition in THSRA.
The THSRA also awards scholarships to seniors.
Myers said she is going to junior college, first, probably in Wharton or in Uvalde.
Arriaga said he hasn’t thought about college as of yet.
He said this is his first year in THSRA and his second year bullriding.
Arriaga added that practice pens for bullriding are practically nil in the area.
“When I get a chance, I go to George West. There’s just not too many bullriding arenas and practice pens around,” he said.
The rodeo high schoolers will compete in a short go. A short go is two runs adding up to a single score. If you are one of the fastest times or highest scores, you advance.
Winners will advance to the national competitions in Rock Springs, Wyo.
Myers said Texas always has participants at the national level.
“Texas has the toughest competition. At the nationals, we have been the best of the best,” she said.