Many know that students in high school can participate in activities such as basketball, baseball, volleyball, and other extracurriculars. However, another activity for students is the rodeo through the Illinois High School Rodeo Association (IHSRA). Sophomore Makenzie Parkison of Brownstown High School is one of many students across the state who participate in this activity.
Makenzie has been riding in the rodeo for three years, but has been riding in fun shows since the age of five. She participates in pole bending, barrel racing, goat tying, and breakaway roping, and is currently sitting in third place in pole bending. The events she attends occur all over Illinois, from Harrisburg to Belvidere, and even Murray, Kentucky for the Kentucky Invitational. In a previous year, she ranked in the top fifteen in pole bending and qualified for the state finals. And if she is ranked in the top fifteen after the spring season this year, she moves on to state finals, and if in the top three, she will go to the Nationals in Wyoming.
Every event is operated in a different way. Pole bending for instance, is when the rider runs the horse to turn the end pole and weaves through the six poles one way, then back through the other way, and finally turns back and runs to the gate. Barrel racing is where the rider runs the horse to either the right or left to turn the barrels. If they go right, the first turn will be to the right, and the next two will be to the left before they finally return to the gate. When goat tying, the rider runs the horse down to the goat before dismounting on the move. They then flank the goat and tie the legs with string in under thirty seconds. Finally, breakaway roping is where the calf is in the chute, and the horse and rider are in the heel roping box with a rope tied to the saddle by a string. At the riders signal, the calf is released and the horse and rider follow, swinging the rope until the calf is caught, the slack is pulled, and the string holding the rope breaks stopping the time.
Makenzie has always wanted to compete, and followed in the footsteps of her brother and cousin who competed in the IHSRA. She also competes in the IBRA in barrel racing and pole bending which allows her to accumulate points and win prizes. The rodeo has been an influential part of Makenzie's life between meeting new friends, riding horses, and having fun at bonfires after performances or special kids rodeos. Makenzie plans to continue the rodeo in college, but hasn't decided where as of yet. Good luck Makenzie!by Chloe Carson
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