story by Lindsay Humphrey “I was born carrying a rope.” It’s a bold statement from 14-year-old Gunnar Tipton who’s been roping calves and heels competitively […]
Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Riley Ybarra
story by Lindsay Humphrey
“This season has been heartbreaking; we were all looking forward to our last hoorah of our junior high years. But it happens and we can’t do anything about it, so we have just moved on and kept practicing so when we get to next year, we are ready,” said Riley Kade Ybarra. Just like the rest of rodeo nation, Riley’s entire season was canceled on account of quarantine. Unfortunately, it was Riley’s final year with the NMJHSRA. “The worst part about all of this is that I haven’t seen my friends as much as I would like to, it’s hard not being with them this time of year like I am used to,” said the 14-year-old.
As Riley prepares to move up to high school rodeo, she has a role model in her older brother, 16-year-old Meason. “I’m a little nervous to move up, but I feel good about it because I have put a lot of work into the sport. I know it will pay off eventually.” Luckily Riley is used to that level of competition thanks to Meason. “My brother is very competitive, so we are always competing against each other at home. Always having that competition at home helps with the pressure at a real rodeo.”
As a six-event athlete, it’s important for Riley to keep her focus both at practice and rodeos. Her parents–Tony and Jessica–play a pivotal role in that. “My dad jumps in and helps with anything; it doesn’t matter what it is. We couldn’t do anything without all his help. My mom is really supportive too, she is always helping us with the chutes, helping us feed, and cooking at the same time.” Now that the entire family spent the remainder of their school year at home–including 8-year-old Brady–the family room has seemed to shrink significantly. This made it critical for Riley to find her way outside often.
“Usually this time of year we are running around crazy, but we have gotten to just hang out and do whatever we want. And just relax.” A 4-year-old colt gifted to both Meason and Riley from their grandfather has kept the pair from getting bored at home. “We’ve been training him, and it’s been nice to have one to just have fun on. My brother and I are training him together. He’s been roping on him and I’ve been running barrels and poles on him.” This lovable gelding is more like a pet than a horse, he’s always asking for more when it comes to petting, just like a dog. Now he’s known as Crash, but that name evolved from Mr. T, That Bay Horse, and The One On The End.
Although Riley has enjoyed teaching Crash barrels and poles, of her other events–breakaway roping, goat tying, team roping, shooting sports and ribbon roping–breakaway is her calling. “The first time I roped a calf I was at a 4-H rodeo and I had never done it before that. I like being able to hang out and have fun with my horse in the breakaway. And I like the adrenaline rush.” At state finals last summer Riley was the only seventh grader to make it to nationals in the breakaway roping. “I worked really hard for that spot and I believe I deserved to go. Every day I would get home and rope the dummy and rope calves for hours and hours.” Although Riley caught all of her calves at nationals, it wasn’t quite enough to take her to the short round. Now that she knows what to expect, she’s excited to give it a go in the NMHSRA.