Cowgirl to make international debut

Alexandra cowgirl Amelia Knowles, 15, pictured with her horses Manawa and Koda, will travel to...
Alexandra cowgirl Amelia Knowles, 15, pictured with her horses Manawa and Koda, will travel to the United States in July to compete at the International Finals Youth Rodeo. PHOTO: RUBY SHAW
The United States is in the sights of an Alexandra cowgirl, not long after she was crowned one of the best junior ropers in the country.

Amelia Knowles, 15, will travel to Shawnee, Oklahoma for International Finals Youth Rodeo (IFYR) in July.

Her international debut follows a 2023-24 rodeo season in which she won the national junior breakaway title.

Breakaway is a rodeo event in which riders attempt to rope a calf, with a rope attached to their saddle. Once the calf has been roped, the rider stops their horse, allowing the calf to continue running and the rope to break away from their saddle horn.

Amelia aimed for a time around the three-second mark and trained "hard and consistently" during the season.

New Zealand rodeo titles were awarded based on a points system across the entire season and Amelia’s junior breakaway title came down to the final rodeo of the season, at Waimarino, Bay of Plenty, in March.

"All I had to do was make a couple of catches — and I did," she said.

The feeling of winning was "pretty unreal".

"I won’t repeat what I said because it’s not PG."

Amelia also joined her father, Danny, in the open team roping event in Waimarino, which the pair won.

"He is still going on about it," she said.

"It was pretty special."

Amelia has been riding since before she could walk and has grown up in the rodeo community.

Handling pressure was key to being a successful breakaway rider, she said.

"You’ve got to be able to take that risk and take that shot, otherwise you’ll go from taking a winning shot to being third."

Amelia will rely on that risk-taking instinct in July when she competes for the first time, in breakaway and barrel racing, at the IFYR in the US.

"They’re roping at that standard [in the US] that we’re aiming to rope over here [in New Zealand]."

She will have to ride a borrowed horse during the event, something she has done before in North Island rodeos.

"It [is] a bit of a risk and a bit of a test of my horsemanship to be able to get on someone else’s horse and pick up some money."


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