Two sisters — two different national rodeos.
Marion’s Kaylie and Kamryn Garza both placed in the top four of about 100 competitors in their respective events to qualify for national junior rodeos.
Kaylie qualified for the National Junior High Rodeo Association Finals in goat tying at the Texas Junior High finals in Abilene, while Kamryn finished first in barrel racing at an National Finals Rodeo qualifier, also in Abilene.
Kaylie competed at the National Junior High Rodeo Association finals at the end of June in South Dakota, while Kamryn qualified for the NFR Junior World Finals in Las Vegas in December.
Both are veteran rodeo riders, having begun when they were about 8 years old.
Kaylie, the oldest of the two at 14, finished fourth out of 100 competitors in Abilene in goat tying, squeaking out a spot at the national rodeo in June.
Just the top four finishers advanced to nationals.
Kaylie was leading the event after the first two rounds, timed out at 8.1 and 8.3 seconds, but ran into a troublesome goat in the final round, she said.
“I drew a bad goat in the short go,” Kaylie said. “I timed out at 9 seconds and something, but it was still good enough to qualify.”
The goat, which is tied with a rope in the ring, pulled a fast one on her in the short go.
“It ran off to the left and I wasn’t ready for that, so it threw me off a little bit,” Kaylie said.
Qualifying from Texas is a big deal, said Kaylie’s mom, Tammy.
“Getting out of Texas is the toughest part,” Tammy said. “Everybody says that Texas is really the national rodeo. Once you get out of Texas — that’s a huge accomplishment.”
Kaylie’s horse, Hollywood, a sorrel, has been her partner for three years now.
“We didn’t know that he was so awesome,” Kaylie said. “I actually got him for breakaway, but I started doing goats on him and he really picked it up quick. He’s the best horse ever.”
Kaylie just returned from the national rodeo, where it didn’t go quite as she hoped, but it may have been a small miracle that she could even compete.
A window on a horse trailer fell on her hand, shoving the knuckle on one of her fingers into her palm and requiring surgery, just nine days before the national rodeo.
The stitches weren’t removed until the day before she left for nationals.
“I had no practice at all until two hours before the competition,” Kaylie said.
Another uncooperative goat and a slip when dismounting Hollywood hurt her times at nationals.
“When I dismounted, I fell,” Kaylie said. “I hadn’t fallen dismounting since two years ago, when I had a cast on my hand.”
“Even though I didn’t do my best, it was awesome just to watch everyone, and to be a part of the Texas national team. We won by 6,000 points in the team standings.”
Kaylie is an all-around cowgirl, the goat tying just one of several events in which she qualified for state.
Kamryn, 10 months younger than Kaylie, decided a couple of years ago to concentrate on barrel racing.
“I love the barrels a lot more than I like the other events,” Kamryn said. “I just like to go fast. I don’t really like to rope or the goat tying.”
“She’s my speedster, she loves to go fast,” Tammy said.
Her partner, Snickers, a dark brown bay, gets the pampering treatment from Kamryn.
“She’s spoiled,” Kamryn said. “I like to take really good care of her.”
Lots of supplements, chiropractic care and laser treatments are just some of the ways Snickers is “spoiled,” although all of the Garzas’ rodeo horses, including Hollywood, get some of the same care.
“She has a lot of stuff I have to feed her and she gets a lot of treatments,” Kamryn said. “She deserves it.”
“She likes to take good care of her because she doesn’t want anything going wrong,” Tammy said. “They all get extra supplements, but Snickers is just special.”
Kamryn also rode at the the Texas Junior High finals, but knocked over a barrel in one of her runs, garnering a 5 second penalty that prevented her from advancing to nationals.
She and Snickers won at the Texas NFR finals, mere hundredths of a second in front at least a half dozen other riders.
“I won with a 15.6, but I believe second through fourth also ran a 15.6,” Kamryn said. “There were three 15.7’s, and a lot of 15.8’s.”
To win the event in Texas, when it was that close, makes her feel good about her chances in December.
“I am very excited to go to Vegas,” Kamryn said.
Kaylie and Kamryn compete in the rodeos, go to school and play every sport they can at Marion — a full schedule that doesn’t leave a lot of free time.
“The other sports are more during the week,” Kamryn said. “We usually had two games a week, and the rodeos were usually on the weekends — but of course you have to practice every day.
“A lot of the rodeos, I ride in the barrel racing, and then I take my homework up to the stands.”
Tammy is not quite sure how they keep up at times.
Sleeping happens whenever and wherever they have time — many times on the way to and from competitions.
“A lot of it is in the truck,” Tammy said. “I don’t know how they do it. They get really good grades, and their priorities are so much higher than a lot of kids their age. They are like my heroes.”