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Meet the Member Sally Poteat
story by Lindsay King
Fourteen-year-old Sally Poteat from Spartanburg, South Carolina, traded in her English saddle for a barrel saddle as soon as she got the chance. “When I was growing up I always wanted to ride, for my fifth birthday our neighbors down the street brought horses for us to ride in the yard. I started taking riding lessons not long after that when I got into the first grade.” Sally runs barrels, poles, ties goats, breakaway ropes and ribbon ropes. “A friend of my grandpa’s puts on a rodeo and my mom used to take me to them. That is where I first saw barrel racing and decided that I wanted to do it.” Christmas of 2014 brought Sally her first horse, Dash, a five-year-old sorrel gelding who she ran barrels and poles on for two years until he passed away. She now rides another sorrel, an 11-year-old mare named Lexi while she ropes off Stella, a blank-year-old red dun mare. “Barrels is my favorite; it is what I started doing what I always wanted to do. I like to go fast and the adrenaline rush I get right before I go in the gate.” The 2016 reserve champion barrel racer and sixth place pole bender sending Sally to the Junior High National Finals Rodeo. She earned a second trip to nationals after winning ribbon roping at state and placing sixth in the goat tying. “State finals from the past two years have been my favorite so far, those were definitely two of my better rodeos. Both weekends were hectic but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.” Heavy rainfall in Tennessee left the arena sticky, Sally still managed to place 21st in the preliminary round, missing the short round by less than one second. “My ribbon roping partner, Colton Schlock, and I finished with a 17.42 run and we were only one hole away from making the short go finals.” Sally is now the reigning 2017 Foothills Youth Rodeo Association princess.
Sally, along with her parents Warren and Elizabeth and 17-year-old brother Trey, are big University of South Carolina Gamecock fans. “We all go hang out with my parent’s friends when the gamers are on. That is where my mom went to school.” Next year Sally will be a freshman at Boiling Springs High School. Her favorite subject in middle school was social studies. “Last year my teacher was really good and throughout middle school I had teachers who taught really well so I always looked forward to going to that class and learning about that subject.” During the school year, Sally spends three times a week with Crystal McDowell working on her events. During the summer she gets to the barn at seven in the morning to help Crystal work some of young horses on the roping dummy. “I participate in a lot of church activities and I like to shop I guess. But mostly, I just rodeo, practice and give lessons with Crystal, you could say that is my hobby.” After each rodeo Sally goes to the nearest Waffle House to get her favorite: a Texas bacon patty melt, hash browns and a cherry Coke. “Most of the time my whole family goes with me to rodeos. At first, mom always would mess with me when I was saddling and trying to get into the zone. She has kind of learned to leave me alone a little bit before and after I run. Usually my dad will help me get ready, putting my rubber bands on and stuff like that.” Sally does not get nervous for her roping runs but she does get a little worried before she goes in for the barrels and goat tying. “My horse gets really hot sometimes so I just try to keep walking. And I try not to talk to anybody because I will get out my zone if I do. I always go over in my head what I need to do because I will forget if I don’t tell myself. I get really nervous in barrels.” This is Sally’s first year to run in the JSRA. “I have had a great time. The ground and stock have always been great. And everybody is always so nice, they lend a hand whenever they can.” Sally is looking forward to competing in the SCHSRA, FYRA and maybe even rodeo in college. “Rodeo is something that most people do not get to experience, but it is something that I have loved and has changed my life for the better.”