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Like a rhinestone cowgirl

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Tristen Collins stands at the entrance of the long, dark alleyway leading to the arena and listens to her dad’s pep talk. She absentmindedly strokes the neck of her horse, Jym, and feels him shudder in response.

She strains her ears as she tries to hear the announcer’s voice through the roaring of the audience. She stares blankly past the two competitors waiting before her, toward the unsuspecting goat at the other end of the arena. While the person in front of her makes their run, she starts to focus.

Then her name is called.

It’s her turn.

She hesitates for a split second, says a quick prayer, and dives into the arena.

She races to the other end of the arena, effortlessly dismounts from her massive horse while it charges at top speed, and grabs the goat. Without batting an eye, she flips it over, ties its feet up, and raises her hands, signaling to the judges to stop her time. She knows she’s never competed that well before, and, after everyone in her division makes their run, the announcer calls the top three finalists. She places first.

“Rodeoing has really become a big part of my life,” Collins said. “I love how it lets me combine my love of horses and my love for competing. I really like to win, and rodeoing has helped me do that and so much more.”

Collins has been around horses since childhood, and in the past few years, she’s found a sport that could last her a lifetime. Her love for horses started at such a young age that was easy to jump into this sport mentally.

“My parents surprised me with my first horse when I was little. Since then I’ve had five: Babalooey, San Jo, Zippy, Harley, and my current horse Jym,” Collins said. “I like the feeling of accomplishment when we both do well at competition. It’s good knowing that all of those hours in the practice pen paid off.”

Collins has been participating in rodeos for five years and competes in barrel racing and goat-tying. Barrel racing is one of the most well known rodeo events and her favorite.

“Barrel racing is where you run around three barrels standing in a triangle. You have to make a clover-leaf pattern around them, but if you knock a barrel over you get a five second penalty,” Collins said. “I’ve definitely knocked over a few barrels, but it feels great when you make a perfect run.”

Goat tying is a more unusual event and requires speed, focus and agility.

“Basically goat tying is where you charge at a goat, jump off your horse and tie the goat up,” Collins said. “It sounds silly, but it’s pretty difficult and a lot of fun. The first time I ever goat-tied, I went over the time limit and didn’t qualify, but I still really like it even though my first time was embarrassing.”

Although Collins has only been competing for the past few years, her love for horses started at a young age. Many of her best and worst memories come from her unusual, and often embarrassing, rodeo experiences at competitions.

“I have tons of memorable moments from rodeoing,” Collins said. “One time it was really cold outside, so my horse was very fresh and energetic. As soon as he ran into the arena for goat tying, he started bucking. I jumped off, landed on my face, and had to sprint down the whole arena to tie the goat. In front of everyone. It was horrible.”

Although Collins has only been competing for a short time, she has already competed in more than 300 rodeos and won numerous awards.

“My most memorable award I ever got was my first check in goat tying,” Collins said. “It was for getting third place, and it was only for $40, but it meant more to me than just money.”

She hopes to continue this passion in college.

“I really want to be on the rodeo team at SAU in college,” Collins said. “My dream job would be to be on the Justin Sports Medicine Team. They help professional injured cowboys and cowgirls.”

Collins’ unique experiences and skills learned through rodeoing have helped shape her personality and outlook on life.

“I’ve learned from rodeoing that life has its ups and downs,” Collins said. “Sometimes you have a good run, and sometimes you need to try harder. No matter what the outcome is, if you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll be happy.”

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About the Contributor
Katherine Doan, Staff Writer
Katherine Doan is a second year staff member and a super stoked senior. She is Student Body president and First Lieutenant of the Texas HighSteppers. Katherine enjoys long naps and walks on the beach, along with going in circles with ex bae. When not busy with school festivities, you can often find her organizing closets or chatting with her therapist.  

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Like a rhinestone cowgirl