Meet the Member Eli Woodyard
story by Jet Toberer Second-generation team roper, Eli Woodyard, of small town Max Meadows, Virginia, has been roping since he was 8 years old, and […]
story by Kyle Eustice
Hailing from the town of Denver, North Carolina, 13-year-old Anna Digh is an 8th grader at North Lincoln Middle School, where she’s immersed in the typical classes like English, Math, and Science. After school and on the weekends, however, she taps into her inner cowgirl and practices her rodeo events, which include goat tying, pole bending, and barrel racing. Anna joined the JRSRA a year ago, but has been riding horses for over six years.
“I found a local barn and just started riding,” explained Anna. “My parents, Rob and Hope, were surprised because it’s not really the typical sport. My mom loves it and likes riding horses with me.”
Her grandparents, Martha and Harvey Cherry, built Anna a barn, so she has a place to keep her horses. Before joining the JRSRA, she was competing in her local association, the NBHA, but she wanted to do more. She initially started rodeoing with a friend and was welcomed in with open arms.
“People are really nice,” said Anna. “I always try to support everyone, too. You have to try your best and be helpful when people need you.”
Anna has a couple of different horses that she uses, although she says Sugar Daddy is her favorite. “Sugar Daddy is a quarter horse, a Palamino,” explained Anna. “He’s really well behaved and he’s just an angel. I’ve had him for about three or four years already.”
Admittedly, she says her other horse, Prince “works better.” Another quarter horse, Prince is more of a chestnut color. “Prince can flex better than Sugar,” said Anna.
Anna’s biggest accomplishment so far is placing third in the pole bending event a couple of JRSRA rodeos ago.
“I won some money,” said Anna. “That was pretty cool.”
In the future, Anna wants to be a professional horse trainer and one day make it to the world championship. She would love to win a trailer and see all of her hard work pay off.
In the meantime, Anna is extremely involved in her middle school cross country team. It’s another sport she’s very passionate about and has been doing since the 4th grade, although she didn’t join a team until her 6th grade year.
“It just feels really good,” said Anna. “I like to run long distances. It’s really fun. The longest I’ve ever run is six miles. We do meets every two weeks and practice a lot.”
In many ways, rodeo and cross country require some of the same characteristics. As Anna explained, they both take a lot of preparation, dedication, and focus. Every morning, Anna wakes up at 5 a.m. to start her day.
“You have to be ready at all times,” said Anna. “And practice is so important.”
When she’s not busy with homework, riding practice, rodeos, or running, she likes to unwind watching Netfilx, and relaxing with her two dogs, Charlie and Douglas. “They’re the best,” said Anna. “It’s nice to do nothing at the end of the day.”
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