story by Lindsay Humphrey As a first-generation rodeo athlete, Abree Ensey and her 16-year-old sister, Paige, are figuring things out as they go along. They […]
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Meet the Member Hannah Hughes
story by Lily Weinacht
Hannah Hughes has been rodeoing since she was five, and has watched her parents, Rod and Donna Hughes, grandparents, and cousins compete in the sport since she was knee-high. Today, the 14 year old from Fort Scott, Kan., competes in barrel racing, breakaway roping, and goat tying. “I like the adrenaline rush of breakaway, and everyone on my mom’s side of the family has roped,” says Hannah. The 2014/2015 season is Hannah’s first and only year with the KJHSRA before she high school rodeos. She planned to join in 2013, but was unable to after breaking her pelvis when a rope horse she was riding flipped over on top of her. She recovered completely, and made the 2014 rodeo in Garden City, Kan., her first one with the KJHSRA. “I enjoy working with my horses, and I like seeing my rodeo friends. They’re like family to me!” she says.
While Hannah rodeos in the KJHSRA, she fills the remainder of her weekends with the Christian Youth Rodeo Association (CYRA) and the Eastern Kansas Timed Event Circuit (EKTEC), while also being a member of the Kansas Quarter Horse Association. Hannah is coached through barrels by her mom, and her grandpa, a former tie-down roper, gives her pointers on breakaway roping. “There have been a lot of people who have helped me,” Hannah says gratefully. She barrel races and goat ties off of RH American Rocket (aka Rocket), a 15-year-old registered American Quarter Horse, while breakaway roping on Frenchmen Effort (aka Effie), a mare that is new to Hannah. “We’ve been doing jackpots on her and she’s been doing really well,” says Hannah. “I’m looking forward to using her this season!”
The Hughes live on 80 acres in the country, north of Fort Scott. They are in the process of rebuilding their entire home, barn, and arena, after a tornado swept through the area in April of 2014. The barn is the first building to be erected. Meanwhile, Hannah has the opportunity to practice with the Fort Scott Community College’s rodeo team. “Coach Chad Croft and assistant coach Cali Griffith have been very instrumental in helping Hannah be where she is,” says Donna, Hannah’s mom.
An eighth grader at Christian Learning Center in Fort Scott, Hannah enjoys her Animal Science class. But playing basketball on her school’s team, the Mustangs, is her favorite part of the day. She is eligible to play on both the varsity and junior high teams, and at the end of January, Hannah went with the girls varsity team to Iowa for a basketball tournament. “This was my second time going. We go to the Christian College and get to stay in the dorms with the college kids, and we get to see the college life a little bit,” says Hannah. She is also a member of 4-H, showing one of her younger horses in halter classes, and competing in the speed events. Hannah shows her Australian Shepherd, Cowgirl, in agility, obedience, and showmanship. The duo went to the Kansas State Fair in 2014 in agility and showmanship, where they earned several top blue ribbons.
During the winter, Hannah uses her hiatus from rodeo to see friends, go shopping, and eat sushi. But she’s always anxious to return to rodeo. Hannah has won several all-around titles with the CYRA and EKTEC, and hopes to earn a buckle with the KJHSRA by the end of the year. Her mom was a WPRA Circuit Champion, and Hannah’s dream is to pro rodeo after college. She adds, “My goal for this year is to make it to the NJHFR in breakaway and goat tying, and someday make it to the NFR!”