SAN ANTONIO – Fifteen young people from around the state competed this year in the Youth Horse Challenge, which is newest Youth Rodeo event at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.
The contestants and their horses were put through paces. They started with a simple horse tack test, naming the different parts of horse equipment. Then they took to the arena floor to show off their horse training skills.
They started out on the ground as they worked their horses through obstacles. Then they mounted up and maneuvered through a horseback obstacle course complete with a makeshift river, bridge and logs. The course came to an end with the contestants putting the horse in a trailer.
That's where 13-year-old Ananiesa Brantley, who just moved to Texas from Virginia, ran into a problem. Her horse, Smooch, was scared of the trailer, Brantley said. She actually rented the horse for the competition and had only worked with Smooch for a couple of weeks.
Brantley competed in the 8 to 13 age bracket. The next bracket featured contestants ranging in age from 14 to 18.
They had a couple of added skills tests, including a portion that allowed participants to freestyle.
One rider, stood on his horse and performed a few rope tricks. Another rider, 15-year-old Chance Clipper from Huntsville, removed the saddle and bridle from his horse, Cat, and replaced it with a training rope, jumped on a took off.
"Me and my brother, we used to go out and catch the horses before we would go roping, and we would just jump on. We were to lazy to walk so we would make them walk," Clipper said.
When it was over, Clipper came out with the highest point total for all the events, winning a $10,000 college scholarship.
"That's a pretty big chuck, especially for college now. I'm excited," Clipper said.
He also won a belt buckle and a pair of boots.
All the contestants went home with a learning experience.
"I learned you have to work together as a team in order to get somewhere with a horse," Brantley said.
"I learned to never doubt yourself before you ever go into the arena, always show your best and be positive no matter what," Clipper said.
Of course, moms and dads were happy with the event and beaming with pride.
Clipper's mother was really excited, considering his horse is only 3 years old.
"She is still a baby. She is still growing. It's his 4-H project and he has done everything with her, so we are very proud, very proud," Roxanne Clipper said.
Brantley's stepfather was equally proud.
"I am always proud of her. (She) did a good job today," Michael Agee said. "(I'm) proud of you, too," Agee said, referring to Smooch.
As far as the overall event, it was "very nerve racking but very exciting," Brantley said.