It’s time for the rodeo

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Alabama Junior Rodeo Association will hold its state finals this week at the Covington Center Arena, and local sixth grader Grace Schulz has her eyes set on the top.


Schulz has been a part of rodeos for the past two years, but this will be her first time at the AJRA.


“My aunt and my grandmother rode for years,” she said. “And that is how I got into it riding. Then I became a part of the Opp Saddle Club, and some of my friends got into rodeos. So I decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be really fun.”


Schulz will participate in three events during the state finals including barrel racing, pole bending and goat tying.


“Goat tying is probably my favorite event,” she said. “You ride do the alleyway on your horse, then jump off when you get close to the goat, flip it and tie up the front two feet and one back foot with a string.”


Schulz and her horse “Gracie” both have to stay in shape to compete at such a high level.


“We go see my trainer to tune the horse up,” she said. “Work on ground work, and a lot of slow work. Slow work is like walking and trotting through patterns, and working on things so that the horse doesn’t get hyper in the alleyway. Once a weekend we run barrels in my pasture, and I will stretch out the horse’s legs so he is loose and doesn’t pull anything.”


Along with riding in three events, Schulz also rides on the drill team.


“I also ride on the drill team ‘The Midnight Riders,’ and we perform as entertainment. We ride in different patterns like a figure eight. It’s good because it makes the horse better. It opens up their minds to new things.”


Schulz said her favorite part of the rodeo is getting to see friends and family.


“I like it because you get to meet new people,” she said. “I also get to spend a lot of time with my family and friends, and that makes you closer.”


The rodeo events will officially begin at 10 a.m., on Thursday, but the Queens Contest begins today at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday’s events will also begin at 10 a.m.