Rodeo Culture Runs Deep in SWLA

Rodeo Culture Runs Deep in SWLA

It's a culture that runs strong in Southwest Louisiana... rodeo culture that is. And for many, it's a way of life that starts at a young age.

Rodeo participants prepare throughout the year with hopes of qualifying for state and local rodeos, vying for a chance to qualify for national championships.

For those who aren't familiar with the sport, what goes on in the arena is only a snapshot of what goes on throughout the year.

"I practice almost every day," said Ava Richard, 16 year old rodeo participant. "If it's not goat tying, I run and try to build stability, and other things too."

And that's on top of normal everyday responsibilities, like chores and homework.

"We do a lot of practicing and we'll do agility work," said Stacey Martin, owner and instructor of Next Level Goat Tying. "In the weeks leading up to the rodeo finals, we'll do two-a-days."

Those practices usually last a couple of hours. According to Martin, many of the athletes will go home and spend more time practicing with their own horses.

"A lot of training goes into it and I think that's what people don't realize," she said. "My son is 10 and he gets up before six every morning and he goes and feeds his animals, and he knows he can't go to bed until everything's done right."

For many, these practices are just another item on the agenda.

"My son he rodeos of course, plays baseball, basketball, football, so we still have to rope, practicing roping and then go to the other practices or go to the games," said Lenny Parker, father of one of the rodeo participants, coach and former rodeo participant himself.

"It's a year-round thing and we don't stop practicing."

And if you ask any of the kids who do the sport, they'll say they love rodeo, because they get to spend time with their family and friends.

"My favorite part is knowing how you have friends outside of the arena, but when they're also inside the arena, they become your competition," said Ava. "But you cheer for them, because you also want them to do better than you."

"To see them achieve their goals that they've worked so hard for, I mean, there just really isn't a better feeling to see that smile on their face," said Martin.

The Louisiana Junior High and High School Rodeo Finals begins May 25, 2018 and ends June 2, 2018.

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