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Rodeo cowgirl follows in her father's footsteps

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
July 9, 2011 at 2:09 a.m.

Zane Starns, 4, is lead into the ring by his sister Katie Boyd, 15 during the Jackson County Youth Rodeo Association program Saturday morning.

EDNA - Laney Curlee enjoys being with her friends during the summer.

But on Saturday, instead of playing hopscotch with them, she competed against them in the youth rode sponsored by the Jackson County Youth Rodeo Association.

"I like riding and spending time with my friends," she said.

Eight-year-old Laney has spent about a year with her horse, Spitfire. This quarter horse has spent years competing, but the biggest competition was fighting cancer.

The 19-year-old horse lost an eye in the process, but he can keep up with the best of them.

"He hasn't missed a step," said Laney's father, Brandon Curlee.

Before the competition, Laney gently petted his nose and put on his splint boots for added support.

Her father said taking care of Spitfire has taught her responsibility.

Close to 100 young cowgirls, like Laney, and cowboys came to the Brackenridge Event Center to show off their skills to family and friends. Participants had a chance to compete in tiedown, breakaway, ribbons, clover leaf, figure 8 and goat slapping games.

"The kids are happy to win, but when their friends win they are happy for them too," said Casey Muegge, association president.

The rodeos have taken place since the 1970s, but ended for a period of time. Contests started back again within the last decade. Many youth rodeo board members like Curlee, competed as children and wanted the same opportunity for the next generation.

"It's up to us to step up and take over," he said.

Children in the competition are between 2 to 18 years old. Some of the toddlers participate in the lead line competition had proud parents right by their side. Once they are old enough, they can compete unassisted in the Peewee League.

This competition series began in March. Saturday's competition was the fifth of the sixth-round series. The last one will be in August. Scores are tallied after each round. And the overall winners will be awarded prizes at a banquet. To be eligible, the contestants need to participate in five of the series.

Laney may be in the Peewee League, but she has a big competitive heart. Her father said he's delighted his oldest daughter is following in his footsteps.

"It makes me proud to see her progress each time," said 34-year-old Curlee.

Laney's favorite competition is the poles. If she wins the competition, she said she's going to put her cash prize in the bank. Regardless of the outcome, she said, she will be happy.

"Either way it will be a good day," she said.

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