Rodeo readies for spring season in winter practices

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Motivation isn't just for humans, but for animals too.

During the long winter months, it isn't just people who fall into patterns of inactivity and apathy, horses do as well.

And like any athlete, if a horse doesn't work out, it will pay the price when the competitive season rolls around.

That's why senior Camie Haskins is on her horse nearly every day.

Every Thursday she's riding with teammates from the Moffat County High School rodeo team in the first organized practices the team has had in nearly two years.

Haskins realizes the importance of daily practice, and if she can't work out with the team, she has the opportunity to do so as often as she likes in her family's arena.

"I'm on my horse almost every day, maybe not practicing, but at least riding him," she said. "For other girls on the team, Thursdays are the only time they get to work out, so it's pretty big for them."

The rodeo team reintroduced organized practice under the guidance of first year coach Denette Webber.

Before Webber's arrival, the cowboys and cowgirls had to use their own initiative, under little or no supervision.

Webber saw the importance of keeping both horses and riders in shape, and implemented organized practice as the way to accomplish that goal.

"A lot of horses have been pastured since September, so it's important that the kids are getting them in shape for this spring," Webber said. "Not only that, but it's important the kids are in shape, so when season comes around we aren't dealing with injuries."

While most of what is practiced on Thursday night's is relevant only to girls, with events such as pole bending and barrel racing, a local club has reached out to help with one of the boys events.

On Tuesday nights, the local roping club has opened its doors to the ropers so they can now face live action calves.

Even the hardest rodeo events to practice for are receiving attention under Webber's guidance. Early this year, there was hope that the Hayden arena could be used for rough stock practice, but because it lacks certain safety features, it was not a viable option.

Webber did the next best thing.

"We got a kickboard for the rough stock riders," she said. "It's a board that the kids saddle and practice their spurring on. It's mainly used to strengthen the legs."

The high school team is off to a good start for the upcoming season, but it won't come quickly.

"There are some events, like jackpot barrels, we can do over the winter, but you still want to compete," Haskins said. "You just want the end of September and the beginning of March to come as quickly as possible."

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