story by Lindsay Humphrey Pistol was the horse that taught Spring Pennington to ride and he very likely built the foundation that her confidence stands […]
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Meet the Member Brooklyn Balch
story by Lily Weinacht
Brooklyn Balch finished the 2018 rodeo season as the first girl from Texas to qualify for the NJHFR in three events. The 15-year-old from Cameron, Texas, was the state goat tying champion and all-around cowgirl, while also winning reserve in ribbon roping with Jett Barrett and placing third in poles. With her first Nationals under her belt, Brooklyn went on to the AJRA Finals in July, where she won the finals all-around and placed high in the pole bending standings. She also competes in barrel racing and breakaway roping, and while she treats all of her events as favorites, she is particularly passionate about goat tying. “I like it so much because it’s an event that you have to be mentally and physically good at, and it’s more of you and not so much the athlete you’re on,” she explains.
Brooklyn started rodeoing when she was 7 or 8, and found her stride in eighth grade. “I was losing a lot, and my mom told me that you have to lose a lot before you can win. My eighth-grade year I started doing really well, and when I knew what it was like to win, it was addicting. Now when I lose, I take it as a better example and go outside and practice more.” Brooklyn practices year round, making the most of her outdoor arena and even parking a car or ATV nearby to light the arena for goat tying. “I go to all of Lynn Smith’s clinics and she helps me tie, and she said that you don’t want to practice too much and get stressed, so I plan a schedule,” explains Brooklyn, who also does cheerleading and runs track. “I ride a couple horses a day and tie, or I’ll ride more horses and rope.”
Her barrel and pole horse, Ruger, is particularly important to Brooklyn and her family. He started as her older sister, Ashlee’s, horse after their 2-year-old brother, Mason, passed away in a fire accident and the Balchs turned to horses for therapy. Ruger, whose registered name is BB’s Angel From Above, shares a birthday with Mason and went on to qualify for the junior high state finals in barrels and poles with Ashlee before becoming Brooklyn’s rodeo horse. “It’s amazing how he’s been a part of our family, and a blessing,” says Tammy. Brooklyn also competes in goat tying on Gray, who was trained by Stephanie Jacks Saculla, and breakaway roping on Ranger.
Also part of Brooklyn’s rodeo team are her parents, Eric and Tammy. Eric coaches a high school varsity football team and strength and fitness, helping Brooklyn with her mental and physical strength. Tammy, who is also a teacher and a past all-around rodeo athlete, helps Brooklyn with her horses and roping. “Carl Cox has really helped me rope, and Jordan Briggs has helped me in poles. I look up to her in a lot of ways,” Brooklyn adds. Her brother and sister, Cade and Ashlee, are equally supportive and come to as many rodeos as they can. The family also enjoys hunting and fishing together, and eating Eric’s barbecue.
A freshman at Cameron Yoe High School, Brooklyn enjoys her English and biology classes, while her cheerleading team qualified for state finals this winter. She’s also planning to college rodeo in the future, and study in the medical field. “For my short-term goals, in high school rodeo I want to make state high up in my events, and be the first girl freshman to make it to Nationals in more than two events. I want to win the AJRA all-around and the goat tying, and I pray to do the best that I can. Before every run I pray to God and I pray to my brother. I don’t know what the plans are for me but I’ll enjoy the road, and whatever He allows me to take, it’ll be good.”