story by Lindsay Humphrey “To me, there’s nothing better than pulling back on two feet; it’s almost euphoric,” said Colter Snook who’s only been heeling […]
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Meet the Member – Kaitlyn Dinges
By Lindsey Welchel
Kaitlyn Dinges, 18, has never been short of horse-related activities to pursue. She’s shown many disciplines from English to cutting, but when she joined the Kansas High School Rodeo Association a whole new adventure began.
“Halfway through my sophomore year of high school I was just strictly showing cutting horses, and I decided I wanted a little bit more variety, and we decided to high school rodeo. I just cut for that semester, and then the fall of my junior year we really hit it hard,” Kaitlyn explains.
Soon she was doing more than just cutting. She was running barrels and poles and then joined in on breakaway roping.
But there’s another aspect of the Western lifestyle that took center stage during her high school rodeo career. She’s been the rodeo queen for the past two years.
Competing in queen pageants was not new to Kaitlyn, who held her first title at the age of 8. Through the endeavor she’s learned valuable lessons.
“It’s taught me a lot. I’ve learned very thorough public speaking skills that will probably benefit me the rest of my life, and I’ve met a lot of people and made a lot of contacts that have really helped me get to where I am,” she says.
Those skills have already started to pay off for the young Ness City, Kan., cowgirl, who graduated high school in May. She’s been running her own boutique business, “Cowgirls Like Us Boutique” for the past two years. They sell clothing, tack and a variety of other products, and the skills Kaitlyn has acquired as KHSRA Queen lend themselves to entrepreneurial success.
But it’s the deeper bonds within her rodeo family that Kaitlyn credits for helping her along most.
“With rodeo being a family oriented sport, it’s taught me so many things. I will be forever grateful for my time in the National High School Rodeo Association simply because of the people I’ve met, the friends that I’ve made and the unforgettable memories I’ve had,” she says and adds, “we’ve had horse issues and things that have gone wrong throughout our time in high school rodeo, things that just happen to everybody, but when you’re dealing with such great people that are willing to help you… there’s no way I would be competing to the level that I am or doing what I’m doing without all the people that have helped me along the way.”
As much as Kaitlyn credits rodeo for its lessons, she credits her family for their support. Kaitlyn’s dad Darren and mom Brenda run a cow/calf operation and a farm. She has two older siblings, three nephews and a niece.
“We’re a really tight knit family. My family has always been extremely supportive of what I’ve wanted to do… and that is the best thing I could ever ask for,” Kaitlyn says.
This fall, Kaitlyn will be pursuing a degree in marketing from Fort Hays State, but in order to focus on her business and training horses, she’ll begin her college career in online courses. She’ll also embark on running for Rookie of the Year in Kansas Professional Rodeo Association and Central Plains Rodeo Association.
No doubt, she’ll take with her all that she gained in the KHSRA.