By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN In 10.87 seconds, you could take a few deep breaths, or maybe tie your shoe.
But, if you were 12-year-old Kaylee Scheevel, you’d probably rather ride a horse to the end of a rodeo arena, dismount while it’s sliding to a stop, race to a staked-out goat, and tie three of its legs together with a rope.
“I like goats,” Kaylee said. “It’s a really fast event.”
Kaylee, a sixth-grader at Lester Prairie School District, participates in the junior high division of the Minnesota High School Rodeo Association.
She’s had five rodeos so far, and is one of the top performers for goat tying and breakaway.
“The top four of each event get to go to nationals,” said Kaylee’s mother, Janelle. “She has a good shot, but there are still a lot of points left.”
Kaylee’s next rodeo is May 14 and 15 in Pine River. She has a total of four competitions before nationals, which are in Gallup, NM at the end of June.
Kaylee and her brothers, Tyler (a fourth-grader) and Tanner (a kindergartner), love riding the family’s three quarter horses Eddy, Dunny, and Bailey whenever they can.
“All three of the kids have been riding since they were little,” Janelle said. Tyler and Tanner are too young to compete in the junior high rodeo (which is for grades 6-8), but they are already practicing for when their time comes.
A rodeo family
Janelle and her husband, Ross, are also expert rodeo riders.
“That’s how my husband and I met,” Janelle said, explaining that she and Ross were high school students who both competed in rodeos throughout the state.
Ross grew up in Preston (south of Rochester), and Janelle is originally from the western Minnesota town of Milan.
The couple worked in the Twin Cities and lived in an apartment in Chaska for a while, but they longed for a country lifestyle.
Eventually, they decided to purchase land outside of Lester Prairie. Janelle is now employed at Worldwide Dispensers in Lester Prairie, and Ross does farrier work.
Both Janelle and Ross did some rodeo competitions in college, and Ross still enjoys roping. Janelle said that lately she’s been more focused on helping her children, but someday she plans to get back into it, as well.
Kaylee’s roping practice started from the ground, roping a hay bale.
“Two years ago, I first tried it on a horse,” she said. “It’s different being on a horse. You have to control the reins and everything, but you get used to it after a while. My dad always helped me.”
According to Janelle, rodeo competitions provide valuable learning experiences.
“The effort you put in really pays off,” she said. “You learn to set goals, practice, and work at something.”
For the Scheevels, it’s also an opportunity to be with friends and family.
Most of the rodeos last an entire weekend, and the family stays in a living quarters trailer near the horses.
Kaylee and her cousin participate in ribbon roping together. She is the “roper” and he is the “runner.”
For this event, a calf is roped, and the roper gets off to help the runner get the ribbon that’s tied to the calf’s tail. The runner then takes the ribbon and runs across the finish line.
“I also do roping, barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, and breakaway,” Kaylee said.
For pole bending, Kaylee and her horse weave around six poles arranged in a line. The goal is to get around the poles as quickly as possible, without knocking them over.
Kaylee doesn’t really get nervous for her events, but some rodeos go more smoothly than others.
“I’ve had bad days,” she admits, but added that she doesn’t get discouraged easily.
“Mom tells me to keep trying,” she said.
Two of Kaylee’s cousins are involved in rodeo at Missouri Valley College, and Kaylee plans to participate in rodeo competitions as long as she can, as well.
Kaylee also hopes to make animals part of her future career, and would like to become a veterinarian someday.
To learn more about the Minnesota High School Rodeo Association, click here.