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Blazin Saddles 4-H Club find success at regional level

This past week the Blazin Saddles 4-H Club sent a number of athletes to participate in the regional competition in Perry, Georgia.

The athletes competed in a plethora of events including pole bending, the stake race, barrel racing, cattle boxing, breakaway roping and ranch roping. Participants who qualified for the competition were of varying age groups, but still worked as a team while competing in these events.

The members who made it to regionals were Toree Loper, Brayden Kirkland, Chase Cooper, Faith Tetreu, Ava Dickerson, Lizzy Buras and Sarah Adams.

Club Advisor Brandi Kirkland worked with the athletes for months to perfect their techniques and work on their events.

Being able to compete in the regionals and perform well was the culmination of all those hours she and the athletes put in.

“It’s really good, it’s a great feeling to see them succeed because we’ve worked really hard to get to go and they did really well out there,” Kirkland said.

Not only did the club members perform well, but Kirkland can now use those performances as a springboard to drum up interest in the club.

“We’ll have more people join and get on board to try to go to Georgia,” Kirkland said. “It’s a lot of fun and they offer a lot for the kids.”

Kirkland said the athletes’ positive experiences at regionals could serve as inspiration for younger club members. Now those boys and girls have aspirations of making it to regionals just like the more senior members of the club.

“They’re wanting to work really hard to get to qualify,” Kirkland said. “The little girls always look up to the older ones and are asking for help and want to be where they were.”

It also makes Kirkland’s and the other advisor’s jobs easier because the younger athletes hang onto every piece of advice, seeing how it paid off for the older athletes.

However, the experience is more important than actually winning at regionals for Kirkland.

She said it’s crucial the members have these opportunities, and that they learn a lot from these events.

“Everybody gets over there and they learn about different counties and areas,” Kirkland said.

“Overall, it’s just a great learning experience where they can meet friends and enjoy new experiences.”

The road to get to regionals is long since athletes have to compete at a district show and perform well enough to qualify for state.

They then travel to Jackson, Miss., where the state competition takes place in order to qualify for the regionals, which are held the following week in Perry.

The grind on the athletes, and stress of knowing they have to perform well, is offset by Kirkland’s rodeo experience and calming presence.

“I keep them calm, I put them in the gate, and get them out of the gate,” Kirkland said.

“I’m right there talking to them and have their mind on the fact that all they have to do is have fun and be safe.”

Kirkland shares her lifelong rodeo knowledge with her team to soothe the nerves of its members before each performance.

“I’ve been there and done that, I’ve felt the way they feel,” Kirkland said.

“I can relate and smooth everything over for them, and I just tell them to give it their best.”