Local student to compete in rodeo nationals

Published 1:42 am Sunday, June 14, 2009

NATCHEZ — Labrelah Hutchins has been around horses all her life, and has been competing in rodeos since she was 5 years old.

That lifetime of persistence and dedication has paid off as Hutchins, the daughter of Linda and Larry Hutchins, has earned the right to compete in the fifth annual Wrangler Junior High Finals Rodeo in Gallup, N.M. from June 28 through July 4.

“I’ve always loved horses since I was a little kid,” Labrelah said. “My father and brother ride horses, and I just started when I was old enough.”

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Labrelah, who will enter the ninth grade at Cathedral School in the fall, isn’t the first rodeo rider in her family. Her brother Michael went to the national competition three consecutive years.

“We’re a rodeo family,” Linda Hutchins said. “Labrelah was a small child when she went to nationals the first time (to watch Michael) and now she’s a contestant. It’s no surprise she got into rodeo.”

Labrelah earned her position on the Mississippi junior high rodeo team in the pole bending competition on her horse Fancy, which she has had for three years.

Pole bending is timed event that features a horse and one mounted rider, running a weaving or serpentine path around six poles arranged in a line.

The rider will take up a gallop and run past all the poles, turning at the last pole. The rider and horse will make a serpentine path through the poles, that is, passing on alternating hands and leads through the poles.

When the last pole is reached, the horse and rider continue in a mirror pattern through the poles back to the first one. When the pattern is completed the horse and rider then gallop back past the poles and through the timer.

If the rider knocks over a pole he will be penalized, resulting in either disqualification from the event or a 5-second penalty (per knocked pole).

Labrelah qualified for nationals by accumulating points in rodeos throughout Mississippi.

Fifteen rodeos were sanctioned by the junior high federation and Labrelah competed in 13 of them, accumulating enough points to advance to the national competition.

The national competition will feature over 1,000 contestants from 47 states, Canadian provinces and Australia.

Cowboys and cowgirls will compete to win over $75,000 in prize money and over $50,000 in college scholarship money.

To earn the title, contestants must finish in the top 20 after to rounds of competition before advancing to Saturday’s final championship performance.

But even if she doesn’t make the finals, Labrelah still will have a great time while she is out there competing.

After all, that is why she does what she does.

“I have lots of fun,” she said. “I do it for the fun of it. I’ve been doing it ever since I was a little girl. It’s the thing I’m used to.”