story by Ruth Nicolaus If it’s true that people act like their pets, Cassidi Alverson is a prime example. The Colorado High School Rodeo Association […]
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Meet the Member: Aleeyah Roberts
story by Lily Weinacht
Barrel racing has another devotee in 14-year-old Aleeyah Roberts. The CSHSRA competitor from Black Forest, Colo., had a banner year in 2015 when it came to chasing cans. Her first qualification for the CPRA finals saw her going in 15th place and coming out seventh, along with placing second in the average to Laura Lambert. Furthermore, she and her eight-year-old sister, Savannah, took home six of the 15 saddles from the NBHA District 3 finals.
“Barrels are my favorite, forever and always!” says Aleeyah. “I love the adrenaline rush – the push from start to finish and the feel of the horse when it all comes together. I know it’s done in 15 or 17 seconds, but it feels like forever out there. I’m always happy when my run is over, yet sad when it’s finished.” To counteract barrel racing withdrawal, Aleeyah also competes in goat tying, pole bending, and ribbon roping, with plans to start breakaway roping this summer.
She credits much of her barrel racing success to family friend and fellow rodeo competitor, Cynthia Heitmann. “When we moved to Black Forest and I started rodeoing, she helped me out with all my horses,” Aleeyah explains. “I got really frustrated with one of my horses and didn’t want to rodeo anymore, but Cynthia got me through it, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am without her!” Despite the temporary bump in the rodeo trail, Aleeyah has always been the type to back her dreams with hard work. She started riding at the age of four and went to watch her first rodeo – a Little Britches rodeo – several years later. “I hated watching,” Aleeyah recalls. “I didn’t want to watch, I wanted to do it! I got a buckskin paint named Nacho when I was nine and that’s when I started rodeoing.” Since then, she continues to compete in the NLBRA, as well as the CJRA and Mile Hi Barrel Horse Association.
The other half of Aleeyah’s team are her horses, Reekay, who carried her to the CPRA finals, and Swagger, her backup barrel horse. “Reekay – we also call him Richard – is my first competitive rodeo horse,” says Aleeyah. “He’s the most solid horse I’ve ever ridden, and I love him to death! Swagger is still learning barrels, but he’s a gem when he can get it done. I think he’ll be my CPRA mount this year since he can run in places that Reekay can’t. We have quite a few other horses because my mom breeds Appaloosas. Our stallion is Heartbreak Kid and our mare is Pants On Fire.” Along with her horses, Aleeyah and her parents, Nicole and Warren, scarcely leave for a rodeo without their Border Collie, Gator, and they’ve even unknowingly brought a cat along. “Our cat, Rodeo, jumped into the tack room at home and we didn’t know, so he came to my first CPRA rodeo and that’s how he got his name,” Aleeyah recalls with a laugh.
A freshman at Pine Creek High School, Aleeyah is especially fond of Language Arts. “I like to read and write, especially when the teacher has us write about something we like. I write about barrel racing.” When she’s not exercising her pen, Aleeyah is on the track running both the 100 and 200 meter dash. Once home, she practices in the arena with her sister, and uses any spare time to read, romantic comedies making up much of her reading list.
Along with progressing in the CSHSRA standings, Aleeyah’s goal is to qualify for the WNFR. “I feel like that would be a huge accomplishment, and it’s something I’ve always seen my sister and I doing,” she says. “Another goal is to qualify for and win The American. That’s what I’m most dedicated to right now, because you can be any age to race in it!”