Young Riders

RAYMONDVILLE — Audrey Hernandez rode her horse gracefully through the tight curves, hooves kicking dust into the air.

Ripping around the last barrel yesterday, the 8-year-old contender raced toward the end of the arena, winning the clover-leaf barrel competition for her division at the Willacy County Youth Rodeo.

Her light brown hair waved wildly in the breeze, sun glancing off her horse’s sleek brown coat, a jubilant smile on her face.

“You have to keep prac-ticing and practicing,” said the Lyford resident. “You have to keep on doing it no matter what.”

The youth rodeo was part of the 2016 Willacy County Livestock Show and Fair. However, it was organized by the Willacy County Riders and Ropers Club for students too young to participate in adult rodeos. The Profes-sional Rodeo Cowboys Association says riders must be at least 18 years old.

The riders yesterday competed in three events: cloverleaf barrel racing, straight barrel racing and pole bending. They com-peted in each event in four divisions separated by age.

While some young riders new to rodeo were simply led by their parents around the barrels, others took full command of their mounts.

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