Cowgirls wrangling up fun |

Cowgirls wrangling up fun

On days when most kids are out shooting hoops, tossing a ball back and forth or taking a dip in the pool, there’s a whole segment of our Nevada County youth playing a different sport.

In two days, county residents will get their fill of rodeo at the Penn Valley Rodeo this weekend but throughout the year, to satisfy their own desires, kids are practicing their rodeo skills in the National High School Rodeo Association or California High School Rodeo Association down the hill in Lincoln.

It’s a different outlet for different youth.

“The first time I did rodeo I really liked all the excitement that was involved with it (and) all of the adrenaline rushes I had,” said Natalie Holmberg-Douglas, a Nevada Union student. “I thought it was really fun.”

Holmberg-Douglas, her sister Maxie, and a host of other kids are finding that there are simple joys found in the genteel sport. But however nice and exhilarating rodeo may be, it is a niche sport in its penetration in the area.

“It is kind of neat thing because it’s like a little community,” said Angie Montre, whose daughter, Kaity, is the Junior Miss Penn Valley Rodeo Queen. “I love it. It’s a lifestyle. The whole family, we all do it. Not necessarily that we all ride in the rodeos but we have horses and we have other farm animals and enjoy the events.”

The high school rodeo associations aren’t affiliated with the schools so while many of the county’s youth who attend Nevada Union, Bear River and other schools participate, they do so as part of part of the state’s association in District 3, which includes Yuba, Placer, Sutter, Yolo, Solano, Sacramento, El Dorado and Nevada Counties.

Generally, the kids practice barrel racing, pole bending and calf or goat tying several times a week. It takes a bit of dedication on behalf of the kids, as well as the parents to get into and stay in the sport.

“We practice at home,” said Kaity Montre of her and her horse Zip. “Some of us have memberships at different arenas. Just everyday, we’re working and refining our turns.”

“It’s a huge commitment because it’s a large financial commitment,” Angie Montre said. “You’re dealing with an expensive animal that’s just not a one-time purchase. There’s daily upkeep, vet care, feed … it’s a lot. A lot of these kids are taking lessons, sometimes on a daily, if not weekly, basis.”

For Montre, 15, time spent on rodeo comes in a mixed bag. In addition to her participating in high school rodeo, her duties as Junior Miss Penn Valley Rodeo Queen keep her busy. She hasn’t even finished her first year in the sport.

“I’ve rode ever since I was born,” said Montre, who’ll be giving up her crown this weekend. “I’ve always had a memory on a horse. And I (show jumped) Western Pleasure and equitation trail for about six years and I just wanted to try something different. Just try a different field.”

She’s turned her focus to barrel racing, pole bending and horsemanship, which she’ll show off this weekend. These few events contrast heavily with some of the more widely attractive bull riding and cattle tying.

“I think it’s fun and it’s a good experience for me and my horse,” said Maxie Holmberg-Douglas, 12, of her and her horse Little Red. “I like barrel racing because I think it’s fun I think it’s the easiest sport for me.”

Most of the kids involved in high school rodeo see the benefit of being a part of their community and the opportunities to travel. Some, even, dream of joining rodeo teams in college.

“I know all of us, we really want to get out there more in the horse world and show people we’re out there,” Kaity Montre said. “I want to start giving kids lessons.”

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