story by Lindsay Humphrey “I’ve tried other events, but I really like barrel racing. It’s where my heart is,” said 17-year-old Payton McNiel. “I’d rather […]
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Meet the Member Sage Bennett
story by Lindsay Humphrey
“We didn’t realize the last rodeo of the fall season in Artesia would be my very last high school rodeo ever,” said Sage Bennett from Capitan, New Mexico. Sage managed to leave it all out in Artesia’s arena by not only catching her calf both days in the breakaway and winning both rounds, but she also won the average. “I usually do well in the first round and then freak myself out in the second,” said the 18-year-old. This spring season was supposed to bring glimmers of hope for a national title. It was also going to be the only season Sage and her 12-year-old brother, Flynt, would get to rodeo in the same association. “It made my dad a little sad that we didn’t get to rodeo together or at all this spring.”
This disappointing end to Sage’s high school rodeo career was punctuated by an alternate ending to her time at Capitan High School. “I was actually counting down the days to graduation three months ago and then the quarantine happened.” As a sophomore Sage was homeschooled when the family still lived in Vega, Texas. Flipping the switch back to homeschooling couldn’t have come at a better time for Sage. “It only took me a couple of hours to get my schoolwork done because I only had four classes this year. This time at home has allowed me to start some younger horses and get them going for next year.” Although closing the book on one chapter is sad, Sage is looking forward to what her next one will bring.
Making her way to Hobbs, New Mexico, will give Sage the opportunity to rodeo for Hobbs Junior College while studying animal science. Her career goal outside of rodeo involves becoming a large-animal veterinarian. Thanks to her time at home, Sage has her mounts ready for both the barrels and breakaway roping. “There’s been no pressure and I’ve had lots of time to focus on them. If I would’ve been traveling to rodeos, I would’ve been focused on my solid horses for those.”
The transition away from home might be a bit harder because of all the time Sage has been able to spend with her parents, Teal and Courtney. “Ever since I was itty bitty I can remember getting up at 3 in the morning and then going back to sleep in the pickup. My dad and I would be going out to brand. I’ve gone with him every day since I was six.” It’s been in these quiet moments together that Teal gave Sage all the tools she needed to move forward in life. “He’s always been there for me and is willing to teach me new things. He always tells me to never settle and to always get better any way I can.”
In the same way, Courtney has also encouraged Sage to pursue greatness in life. “My mom keeps me pumped up to go, she encourages me a lot. She’ll also make sure I know when I need to get my game back together.” Between her two events, Sage needs more encouragement in the barrels simply because she craves breakaway roping. “I still learn something from roping every single day.” The daughter of a rancher and horseman, Sage has always sought out the greener mounts. “I always felt like getting on green horses would make me a better roper rather than getting on a finished horse.” Sage grew up riding and roping but didn’t rodeo until the eighth grade. “I did every event in that first year, and I eventually slowed down to just my two events. I was kind of thinking more about my future and how I can’t run poles in college and stuff like that.” Outside of rodeo, Sage was disappointed she wouldn’t get to walk across the stage at her high school graduation. Her school organized a graduation parade in place of their normal pomp and circumstance.