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SADDLE UP, COWGIRL: Drew Howard poses next to eight awards she claimed at a recent competition, including 2014 MJHSRA State and National All Around Cowgirl.
SADDLE UP, COWGIRL: Drew Howard poses next to eight awards she claimed at a recent competition, including 2014 MJHSRA State and National All Around Cowgirl.

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Local student qualifies to compete at World’s Largest Junior High Rodeo

Published 9:51am Monday, June 30, 2014

Rodeo has a unique history. Much unlike other sports, it emerged from an industry’s daily routine — one with long hours and modest compensation.

In any other field, leisure time might have been spent elsewhere, rather than a recreation involving the very animals one had already spent long hours tending; but being a cowboy has always been more of a way of life than anything else.

That way of life comes naturally for Drew Howard.

Howard, who will begin her freshman year at Poplarville High School this fall, has earned a position on the Mississippi National Junior High rodeo team.

Howard is currently traveling with fellow teammates to Des Moines, Iowa, June 22-28 to compete at the 10th annual National Junior High Finals Rodeo and this isn’t her first time at the rodeo. In fact, her family would say it seems like she’s always been on the scene.

“From the time she was a baby, she’s been riding horses”, her mother recalls. With Howard, it’s something that just comes naturally. It even runs in the family.

Howard’s father comes from a long line of cowboys and cowgirls who love the rodeo; so, there was never a shortage of relatives around to train her in the tradition.

Being around horses came as such second nature that Howard began entering independent competitions locally at the age of four. When she reached 5th grade, she became an active competitor in the Mississippi Junior High School Rodeo Association, a state organization that allows the most outstanding students to compete annually on a national level.

Howard considers one of her finest accomplishments being named 2014 Mississippi Junior High School Rodeo Association’s “State and National All Around Cowgirl”. She is currently the MJHSRA Vice-President and Captain of the state’s CINCH Team (a team of nine elite students from Mississippi who excel both in the arena and the classroom).

After high school, Howard hopes to compete in the college rodeo and once she’s completed each student division, her dream is to one day take part in the National Finals Rodeo.

According to a press release by the National Junior High Finals Rodeo, the world’s largest junior high rodeo, the national event “features roughly 1,000 contestants from 42 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia. In addition to competing for more than $75,000 in prizes, NJHFR contestants will also be vying for more than $100,000 in college scholarships and the chance to be named a National Junior High Finals Rodeo National Champion. To earn this title, contestants must finish in the top 20.”

At the National Junior High Finals, Howard is competing in Barrel Racing, Goat Tying, Girl’s Breakaway Roping, Team Roping, Ribbon Roping and Shooting.

According to Friends of Rodeo, a national organization designed to protect the rodeo and preserve it’s heritage, there are two categories in which contests are judged. The first is rough stock events that are won by accumulating points, including bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, and bull riding. The second includes timed events such as barrel racing, steer wrestling, and roping contests.

Drew Howard is the daughter of Jim and Shannon Howard of Poplarville.

Live broadcasts of each NJHFR performance will be streamed online at NHSRATV.com. Performance times are 7 p.m. on June 23, and 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day thereafter.

To follow your local favorites at the NJHFR, visit NHSRA.org daily for complete results.

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THE RODEO DICTIONARY

ARM JERKER — A horse or bull that is really stout and bucks with the power to cause a great amount of pull on the contestant’s arm.

BAIL OUT — A horse that comes straight up on its hind legs when coming out of the chute, and then begins to buck.

BOOT THE BULL — A term used to mean a particular bull can be spurred. Bull riders are not required to spur their animals, but if they can, they earn extra points.

BRONC — Or bronco. Refers to an untrained horse or one that habitually bucks.

BUFFORD — An animal that is easy to ride, rope or throw down.

CHASING THE CANS — The rodeo nickname for barrel racing.

DINK — An animal that bucks very little or just runs around the arena.

HEADHUNTER — A bull that is constantly looking for a two-legged target to hit.

HIGH ROLLER — The term used to describe a horse that leaps high into the air when bucking.

HONDA — The eye in the end of a rope that allows the other end of the rope to pass through, forming a loop.

HOOKY — A bull that is really handy with its horns.

LEGAL CATCH — In team roping, the header must catch the steer around the horns, head or neck. This is also called a fair catch.

OFFSIDE — The right side of a horse.

SET YOU UP — A horse or bull that drops a shoulder like they are going to turn or spin in one direction, and then immediately does the exact opposite.

SNORTY — A bull that blows air at a clown or downed cowboy.

TERMINOLOGY SOURCE: www.friendsofrodeo.com.

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