For many students participating in school sports or other school activities is a normal thing to do. Unlike normal students freshman Talee Thompson does the opposite: rodeo.
Like barrel racing there are many events in rodeo. Thompson became fond of the working cow horse, after going to the 2017 Lucan Oil AQHA World Show in Oklahoma City. It sparked an interest within her to compete in the working cow horse.
“I saw how fun and exciting it was and I had the horse to do it with,” Thompson said.
“The working cow horse is a series of classes that judges on your horses ability to do multiple things,” Thompson said.
Along with the classes the horse gets judged on various things.
“They get judged on how they move with the horse, how they perform over all, how there body is built, and more.”
Thompson has two quarter named Zippy and Whiskey. Zippy was born at Thompson’s house in 2004, where she began to show horses using Zippy.
Thompson received Whiskey last December, and uses her for the working cow horse, and started training Whiskey soon after she got her.
Thompson’s entire rodeo career all began before she could even walk. She began showing horses when she was one year old. Thompson won many buckles from showing horses. After showing horses for many years Thompson soon got bored with it.
“I really just wasn’t enjoying it,” Thompson said.
She tried barrel racing for a while before she realized she also wasn’t enjoying it.
“I figured that out this past year because I was just so stressed about getting hurt.”
After Thompson figured out that she wanted to do the working cow horse she began training. The working cow horse requires a lot of training and can really change your life style. Thompson began training her horse for the working cow horse when she was just ten years old.
“It has definitely had its challenges because we were both very young,” Thompson said.
Training and practicing has busied up Thompson’s’ schedule.
“It definitely has created my lifestyle, normally on weekends I am at a show or at a clinic improving and trying to get better, and on the weekdays I am exercising with my horse,” Thompson said.
Since rodeo is her only sport that she does, Thompson prioritizes her horses.
“I put my horses before my school work, especially since it has been getting darker earlier. I usually put my homework off until nighttime.”
Thompson practices almost every day of the week that she can to keep consistency and to have better performances each time a rodeo comes around.
“We work on drills and speed so it is kind of like a normal sports practice but just with a horse added into the mix,” Thompson said.
During her practices, she mostly works on transitions and soundness with her horse, she also perfects her keep her horse busy and engaged while she practices.
“I just try to keep her moving so she doesn’t get bored with the same thing. For me, it takes a lot of hard work, time, and tons of patience.”
“They help me prepare my mind, so that I don’t get as nervous going into the arena and I think it helps Whiskeys’ mind because she won’t be stressed on what we’re going to do because we have been practicing. It really helps prepare me for what comes next.”
Thompson loves the relationship that she has made with her horse Whiskey throughout the years.
“I enjoy the bond and trust that I have with her because she trusts me and at any given moment she could turn into a beast that could kill me,” Thompson said.
Although Thompson trusts her horse it still doesn’t help the nerves that she gets before she competes.
“It’s very nerve-racking because you don’t want to make a fool of you have a crowd that you want to impress. I try not to watch other people that are going before me because watching them makes me even more nervous,” Thompson said.
Thompson does get nervous at the before the rodeo, but that doesn’t stop her from performing well.
“Once I am in my pattern I actually relax. Just going into it is when I am not relaxed.”
Despite getting nervous before rodeos, Thompson has won many awards from showing her horse Zippy for several years including five buckles and also three buckles from barrel racing.
With only starting the working cow horse last year in December, Thompson has only won one buckle from the Cactus Classic held in Hutchinson.
“In 2012 I won my first buckle when I was eight, and over all of the years I have won ten buckles,” Thompson said.
“A few of the buckles I won were in the little rodeo association called HQHA I did in 2014 and again in 2016.”
Thompson has competed at Hutch, Kingman, Lyons, and Great Bend. Although most of her rodeos are local Thompson has gone to a rodeo in Nebraska.
Thompson plans on continuing the working cow horse for now, but would like to expand on her rodeo events.
“I am looking to continue doing this (working cow horse) in the future, and I would like to start getting into other events, because my horse can do it,” Thomson said.
Thompson’s goal is to go to college with rodeo.
“I honestly really just want to be a team roper, because I feel it will lead me to a good path in life; I love it so much,” Thompson said. “Plus it will be like a second job for me and it just creates a really good atmosphere for me.”
Thompson also has big dreams for her future rodeoing career.
“The biggest dream that I have is to win a world title in either the working cow horse or breakaway roping,” Thompson said. “I want to win a world title because that will prove what I am capable of.”