Summer is Becky White's favorite time of the year, but not for the same reasons that most of her high school friends would list.
White's summer fun stems from her two trusty steeds. Her steel steed -- the family's dually truck that takes her all over the Midwest to rodeos, and her true steed -- Chloe, which takes her through the poles and around the barrels to the prize money.
While on both rides, White is living a dream.
"This is what I want to do for a living," she said. "I want to get in my truck and ride from rodeo to rodeo."
Over the next three weeks, White will have a healthy taste of what she wants her future to be. At the moment she's on the road to Shawnee, Okla., for the International Finals Youth Rodeo. That rodeo will last through the week and then she'll take off for the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) in Gillette, Wyo. The next week it's back on the road to the Little Britches National Finals Rodeo in Pueblo.
"I don't miss anything by being on the road," White said. "If I'm at home I have to do chores or I have nothing to do."
White comes from a family of rodeo road warriors. Her older sisters, Lacy and Kelly, showed the way for Becky. They both qualified for the NHSFR in high school. As a junior, Becky started to put some pressure on herself to make the finals.
"It had been so long since one of us made it because Kelly qualified her freshman year," Becky said. "I wanted to make this year the year."
Becky's freshman year she finished fifth in poles in the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association standings, which was one spot from nationals. Her best finish her sophomore year was seventh place.
"I went into this year focused on doing what I had to do," she said. "I wasn't as focused on winning every run, but I wanted to make clean runs and score every time."
The senior-to-be remained near the top of pole bending in the four fall rodeos. Then, she opened the spring in Cortez with the best weekend of her high school rodeo career. She won first place both days in pole bending and she was first and second in the barrels. She won the all around that weekend and $900 in prize money.
Going into the state finals, White was in second in pole bending. A no time in the first go of the state finals put the pressure on her.
"Kelly really helped me at the finals because I was a wreck before the short go," she said. "When it comes to the mental game sometimes I'm not so good when I'm under pressure."
She managed to earn six points in the short go and tie for third.
By qualifying for the NHSFR, White has to prepare for a quick getaway from Shawnee. The short go for the Shawnee event finishes July 16 and there's a mandatory check in for the high school finals the afternoon of July 17. Last year, Moffat County's Kendel Fawcett had to do the same thing and she chartered a private jet to make the trip. White said that a jet was a possibility as well as an all-night drive up to Gillette.
"The drive will be hard on the horses, but as long as we take care of them they'll be all right," she said. "But (it's) something I hope that happens."
The International Finals Youth Rodeo is the richest youth rodeo in the world. A top finish could pay for the three weeks she'll spend on the road.
Experience is what White hopes to get out of the high school finals.
"Kendel told me to expect the best competition ever," she said. "I'd like to get into the short round and then next I'd like to qualify again and be the first of my sisters to go twice."
The standings are reset at the high school finals, so it's all about the performance that week. To qualify for the short go, White will have to finish in the top 20 average after two go-rounds.
The next week is when White expects to be in the running for the money and awards.
Her only competition saddle comes from her world championship in barrel racing from Little Britches. She earned the title in 2003 and hopes to add another this year.
"I'd like to be in the top five in two events," she said. "I've never made the short go in goat tying at a big rodeo so that's a goal too."
Even if she doesn't reach any of her goals, White doubts she'll regret taking three weeks away from the comforts of home.
"I love just hanging out with my rodeo friends," she said. "I don't miss anything at home when I'm on the road with them."