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It’s that combination of speed, thrill and riding skill that has had Cust’s Caitlyn Hey hooked on barrel racing for two years.
The 14-year-old Christchurch Girls’ High School student is on the team for the 2020 New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Trans-Tasman High School Challenge competition.
She followed that up by winning the second round of barrel racing in a time of 16.61 seconds, shaving nearly 4½ seconds off her first-round outing.
Spots at the tournament are hotly contested, says Caitlyn’s mother, Adrianne Lill-Hey.
‘‘You apply to be part of the team, and they don’t just look at your rodeo ability. They assess you on your personality and conduct, and on your school results too.
‘‘Then, if you get chosen, you accrue results points over three challenges here in New Zealand, followed by three in Australia, to find the winning team each year.’’
Caitlyn came to barrel racing from the dressage show ring, where she still competes, but it has represented quite a change in equestrian disciplines.
‘‘She had a problematic pony, so went to Nicci and Brent Crowe, here in North Canterbury, for help.
‘‘They took her on board and ended up introducing her to barrel racing, and lent her a horse for 18 months,’’ Adrianne says.
‘‘We bought her a new pony just two months ago, called Yellow, which she rode for this competition.’’
The first-round tournament was held in Invercargill. Then, horses and riders headed to Outram for the second round, on Waitangi Day.
The final New Zealand stage was set for Mataura, but flooding made that impossible.
Given that competitors were already in Outram, that club offered to host the final stage, two days later.
‘‘We’ve had three events in a week — everything’s a bit of a blur,’’ Adrianne says. ‘‘We’re now looking forward to August, when we’ll go to Australia for the second half of the challenge.’’
Caitlyn says she enjoys the camaraderie of the rodeo.
‘‘I enjoy the atmosphere and we have fun,’’ she says.
‘‘I ride every day and we run the drums (barrels) once a week.’’
She says she and Yellow are a good team.
‘‘She listens to me.’’